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Rules Of Beauty And Self-Worth!

I want to talk about the fashion industry and its impact on our health. Yes. You read right.

As many of you know, the fashion industry influences us on both a conscious and subconscious level. Through advertising their version of what constitutes beauty/attractiveness and surrounding us with it, we start to internalize it. Mostly, the ideas they have of what beauty is are as follows: skinny (female), muscled (male), Caucasian (but not too white!…just the right tan color), tall, with a focus on Euro-centric beauty (blue/green eyes, “European” noses vs. African noses, etc.)

This creates a problem. Though hard to admit, we aren’t passive creatures… when we’re bombarded with this image of beauty on TV, in movies, in magazines, in advertisements on the road – and when this image of beauty is also associated with wealth, success, happiness and purity, it becomes ingrained into our psyche.

There are examples of people who don’t fit the conventional idea of beauty on TV and as models, but here’s the problem: Focusing on the racial discrimination for a moment, even when you see successful African-American models like Tyra Banks or Iman – they have Caucasian-like features (Tyra has green eyes, and both Tyra Banks and Iman have thinner noses). Of course there are some exceptions of African-American models who have more typical African-American features, but they are a rarity.

So what does this have to do with health?  Aside from the obvious negative effects it has on our self-image and mood (for those of us who don’t “fit” the stereotype of beauty the fashion industry has created), it can lead to depression and anxiety which in turn can lead to heart problems, high cortisol (stress hormones), unregulated blood sugar, and more.

While none of us (including myself) can honestly say we don’t, at least to some degree, internalize these ideas of beauty, we can be more aware of it. And not only be aware of it – we can question it when it appears into our own negative self-talk. We’ve all told ourselves “I wish I wasn’t/didn’t have ______”. (Fill in blank with “fat”, “so dark”, “so white”, “such a big nose”, “have nice straight hair”, etc.) What exactly would you want to look like? Is what you want to look like a whole different person, or just a better looking you? Why is your “big” nose a problem? Why do you wish you were that golden-tanned skin tone?

Another important aspect is opening your mind to other ideas of beauty. The next time you’re people-watching (I know we all do this! =p), take a second glance at someone who didn’t fit your idea of attractiveness (maybe this person is a bit curvier, or has curly hair, or as I’ve heard some people say…maybe this person is of a race that you just don’t find attractive. I find this hard to understand, but I digress.) You may find an exception to the rule. And that exception will start to re-define your rules of beauty. This will not only open your mind to different types of beauty, but lead you to better accept your own flaws, and ultimately, lead you to better health.

What are your thoughts on “beauty” presented to us in our everyday lives? I’d love to discuss with you in the comments below!

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Dr. Rahim Kanji is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Canada. He has a passion for evidence-based natural medicine, specifically empowering his patients to make nutritional changes which create dramatic impacts to their health. For more information, visit his website at www.rahimkanjind.com.

  • ad

    Beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder. I do not find skinny, dull & what ever the fashion industry pushes to be beautiful. Beauty is a character….it creeps up on you & is more than a visual. Flaws are sexy. A raw person is hot, not a cookie cutter mold. Meet that person in the flesh, without all the advertising bllshht, and see what is really going on there. Exploitation and a willingness to sell your soul. Nothing beautiful in that. There is beauty in every race, & in reality it is never the lies we are fed. Beauty comes from your heart, it comes from your soul & is nothing that can be cultivated from primarily an exterior view. This is where the insecurity is bred, & where the sales drive & product push originates from.

  • guest

    Thank you!  This is a very important message and has shaped our society in so much negativity.  I especially can’t stand the network early morning ‘news’ shows.  And now, according to a deodorant, ‘stress sweat’ smells worse than ‘regular’ sweat!  What next?  Hang on to your sense of humor!

  • <3

    Personally, I like “different shapes, different swaggers.” I don’t care what color, race anyone is, beauty is beauty. Beauty is how someone walks through the world and how they hold their body. I like talking to people who aren’t concerned with being clever but are real. Someone once said that the self is personal. I don’t subscribe to this notion. All we have on this earth is our “self.” That should be shared with the world. And when someone falls in love with you, it’s the real you not some contrived personality trying to be attractive. I know I’m sliding a little off topic but I’m just so tired of the pretentiousness and us vs. them attitude. Be vulnerable for that is where true courage, strength and love resides. Be confident and stand strong . When you believe you are beautiful so will everyone else. If they don’t its because they don’t recognize their own beauty. *stepping off soap box* LOL!

  • Ukgm007

    I find your article very interesting. I am off an age where I find myself becoming conventionally un-attractive (turning 50). Wrinkles appear, skin is starting to sag a bit etc, however, I feel beautiful inside my skin, it’s only the constant bombardment of artificially altered faces and bodies in the media that can lead me too feelings of ‘less than’. I find very few people genuinely un-attractive human beings and it’s almost always because of some negative aspect of demeanor or action or attitude. The less I pay attention to print ads, film,TV etc., the better I feel. Nothing can beat a heart full of love, a kindness of spirit, a smile or a wonderful sense of humor.

  • simplelady61

    I wish you could get this message to every teenage girl that harms herself because she doesn’t think she is beautiful.  We are all beautiful in our own unique way! 

  • http://twitter.com/SupermodelYOU Sarah DeAnna

    Dr. Rahim Kanji, as a working model who fits the stereotypes you outlined above… I’ll have you know that even we are not unaffected by the idea of perfectionism and beauty. Models, like every other human, have flaws and pick themselves apart over wanting more this or less that or different this or different that. It’s not so much a problem of society or something to blame on the fashion industry as it is a problem of humanity. We as human beings seek and appreciate natural beauty in all it’s various forms: beautiful sunsets, waterfalls, butterflies, flowers, and so on. It’s in our realizing that we are a part of all that is BEAUTIFUL and all that is, that we can free ourselves from comparison and appreciated the beauty and uniqueness that we ALL possess. 

  • 402

    Please take much more than just a moment to talk about the racial discrimination in the fashion industry and general social atmosphere! Discussing it is the best way to eradicate it! Thank you for this!

  • thelindseyoneill.com

    I completely agree that beauty comes from within and is how one carries oneself in the world. It is the intimate “one-ness” and connection with oneself that is beautiful in a man or a woman, and the world notices this. Letting that authentic light shine through for the world to see without being afraid of people seeing both our perfections, and our imperfections, is truly beautiful. Raw and real is where true beauty lies.

  • Marlene

    I think beauty is so hard to define and pigeon-hole. How society decided what was beautiful and what was not is beyond me. Some people are conventionally gorgeous but the most attractive people have quirks, flaws, weird laughs and beautiful souls. The media is quite corrupted and it’s up to us as individuals to define beauty not through one’s exterior but through the depths and infinities of someone’s interior. 

  • Guest

    Great idea to take a second look at a person that normally we probably wouldn’t. I work in the women’s fashion industry and am continually hearing women say that they are so fat, have ugly arms or are so negative about other parts of their bodies. I say to them, “TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND NOW THINK ABOUT ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PARTS IN AND OUTSIDE OF YOU.” I MAY EVEN ADD THAT I JUST LOVE THEIR HIGHLIGHTS OR HOW ABOUT WE FOCUS ON YOUR WAIST IN THIS OUTFIT. I always loved the shows here and in the UK where they took larger women, or in some cases women who were not a larger size but felt so poorly about themselves. Usually they didn’t know how to do their hair or makeup or they may have just given up on looking and feeling beautiful. I REALLY BELIEVE WE ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO LOOK AND FEEL BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT. BEAUTY TO ME ALWAYS STARTS WITHIN. IF WE TRULY LOVE AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT OURSELVES, WE TREAT OURSELVES AND OTHERS BETTER! KINDNESS MATTERS, PASS IT ON! HUGS!!

  • Pasonh

    That is essential and key topic, in fact i am agree totally to break this stereotype of beauty which has been created by some of those who has a different look and strange definition of beauty. i guess beauty and being attractive physically should be a choice for each how they define beauty but not at all to create a stereotype of it . Of course it has a big impact now a days on health and Psyche of us and i have the experience with me and with people now i live with ! Thx for focusing and writing about this important topic!