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The High Cost of Beauty Standards on Self-Esteem

The Dove Self-Esteem Project has released a new short film titled "Cost of Beauty," which explores the high cost of beauty standards on self-esteem. The film showcases the impact of the unrealistic beauty standards set by the media, the beauty industry, and societal expectations.

The societal pressure to conform to beauty standards has long been a contributing factor to the development of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Research has shown that people with eating disorders often have a distorted perception of their body image and feel a constant need to control their weight and appearance. This need to conform to unrealistic beauty standards set by the media and the beauty industry can exacerbate these feelings, leading to a vicious cycle of negative self-talk, self-criticism, and disordered eating behaviors.

The film "Cost of Beauty" highlights the emotional and financial cost of trying to meet these unrealistic beauty standards. It depicts the toll it takes on individuals with eating disorders and their families, showing how it can lead to hospitalization, costly treatment, and long-term health consequences. In recent years, the pressure to conform to beauty standards and achieve the perfect body has intensified due to social media's dominant presence in our lives.

Statistics from the NEW 2023 Dove Self-Esteem Project Research for Kids Online Safety found:

  • 80% of young people believe that people their age are addicted to social media.

  • More than 50% of young people say social media makes them and their peers feel anxious.

  • 7 in 10 young people (ages 10-17) have been exposed to content encouraging weight loss/body transformation on social media.

  • 76% of young people in the U.S. say social media can make young people want to change their appearance.

  • 51% of young people (ages 14-17) have been exposed to content encouraging restricted eating or disordered eating behaviours.

  • Over half of youth mental health specialists say exposure to harmful beauty content on social media can lead to physical consequences like disordered eating or self-harm.

  • Over half (58%) of American parents believe the only way to get social media platforms to change is to implement legislation in the space.

It's essential to educate young people about the potential harm of social media and encourage them to use it responsibly. Parents can play a crucial role in this by monitoring their children's social media use, setting healthy boundaries, and encouraging positive body image messages.

Self-compassion and self-care are crucial in recovery from eating disorders. We can start by promoting diverse representations of beauty in media, advertising, and social media, as well as by celebrating bodies of all shapes, sizes, and skin tones. Another essential step is to focus on building a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and our bodies. This means learning to appreciate and care for our bodies, rather than viewing them as objects to be controlled or manipulated. It also involves learning to listen to our bodies' needs, rather than ignoring them or pushing them to their limits.

In conclusion, the "Cost of Beauty" film highlights the high cost of beauty standards on self-esteem, which is especially relevant in the context of eating disorders. It emphasizes the importance of redefining beauty, promoting diverse representations of beauty, and focusing on self-compassion and self-care in recovery. By doing so, we can break free from the harmful effects of beauty standards and cultivate a healthy, positive self-image.


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