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Dismantling the Beauty Standards You Hold Yourself To

body standards


It all started with the Venus of Willendorf. Yep, beauty standards began during the Paleolithic Era, the later half of the Stone Age. Thanks, early Hominins! And those beauty standards haven’t let up since. 

Magazines featuring stick-thin supermodels in the ’90s and blockbusters featuring glamazon movie starlets ushered our beauty neuroses into the forefront of our minds through the early 2000s. Then the tech and social media boom of the last decade has thrown trends – beauty, body, and more – at our blue-light-strained eyes faster than we can scroll. 

You are not born into body and beauty shame.  You learn it. 

It’s learned through media, and even from those who love us, who pass down their insecurities and “preferences” to us both explicitly and subconsciously.

Unless you’ve grown up completely isolated from the outside world, or a mirror, chances are you’ve compared yourself to a beauty standard once or twice (or 10 million times). 

Beauty standards are one of the most mentally (and physically) harmful stories humans have made up and spread. 

A story is anything that isn’t a fact, and the idea there is a certain “better” way to look certainly isn’t a fact. 

These lies break you down from the inside out. 

How can you stop the cycle when beauty standards and trends are all around you, holding up a big shiny mirror inviting you to question yourself? 

You only have power when you try to control what you can control and stop wasting your energy on trying to control the things you can’t.

You can’t control the stories floating around you. 

So what can you control? 

Your choices. 

You are allowed to make choices about the types of thoughts you want to encourage in yourself and what you expose yourself to. 

You can choose to question your thoughts and not spread them.  

You didn’t create these expectations. You were taught these stories about beauty and aging. They have been reinforced all around you, for a long time. 

You didn’t write the stories. You learned them but you don’t have to carry them with you.

You gain power when you choose to stop telling them and stop allowing them to keep you small.

It’s time to ask yourself, “Who’s telling the stories now?” Is it you? Have you been perpetuating the pain? 

It’s your choice whether or not you buy into a story and take it as your own. 

“I feel really sure that I look fat”

“My wrinkles age me 50 years”… or whatever it is you are telling yourself. 

Those are just a couple of my things. There are a million different forms of this. You have your own unique set of stories keeping you small. 

Start by questioning your stories. Ask yourself, is it really true? Is it objectively, undoubtedly true? 

Spoiler: It’s not ‘true’. You and I both know it’s subjective. 

When you repeat shame-filled stories to yourself you’re encouraging them in yourself. Where you put your focus becomes your reality. Repeating them means you’re not questioning what is real and true. You’re not focused on facts. 

Nip this habit in the bud by asking yourself what is true. What is objectively true? Become a questioner of your thoughts. Ask yourself is the opposite of what I’m thinking equally true? 

What’s true is there’s a number on a scale. Is that a problem? No. Not necessarily. Any shame or guilt you attach to that number is a story. 

You don’t have to make it mean something about you. 

You decide how you want to deal with these stories and whether or not you perpetuate them in yourself or others. Do you want to keep telling stories that harm you to yourself again and again, or not?  

You have an incredible opportunity to help stop this cycle of creating drama.

When you begin to recognize the oppressor is the story you create, you start taking responsibility for your part empowering yourself to move out of drama.

Rejecting stories doesn’t happen overnight, just like internalizing them didn’t happen overnight. Becoming conscious and moving towards empowerment happens one choice at a time. The choice to believe the stories or not. 

You can’t control the conversation around you but you can control whether or not you participate. 

Ultimately, like everything else in life, the choice is yours. 

As a conscious leader, it’s your responsibility to challenge your stories. And WOW, there are a lot surrounding both beauty and aging. It’s an uphill battle, for sure

You’re not alone. We’re all impacted by the society around us. Everyone experiences stories about appearance. These presumptions and judgments affect every single person, regardless of gender identity, and can impact self-esteem, confidence, and more.

When you recognize how you’re contributing to keeping yourself small, you can use your self-awareness to regain the power you have been giving away and losing. 

Each realization you have about how you’re judging yourself is an opportunity to break free from those limiting mindsets and stories. 

Photography by Kelley Raye //

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a CEO Coach and social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

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