Media vs. Dysmorphia: The Battle Left to Win

May 1, 2022

Graphic by Tien Dinh

We’ve all had times where we feel great one day and wake up the next barely able to look at ourselves in the mirror. Or maybe felt confident in that new outfit but watched our  self-esteem plummet when we saw a post of someone wearing it “better.” Our ideas of beauty have become completely based on comparing ourselves to others instead of improving for our own personal mental and physical benefits.

Body dysmorphia is defined as a mental health disorder in which a person obsessively focuses on one or more of their perceived flaws or defects. Medical websites state that treatment may help, but generally this condition is incurable. What are we supposed to do if this disorder is becoming something newer generations are practically born with? The media landscape, which has become a sort of children’s playground in 2020, is also a space that kills self confidence. What a sad reality it is that the main source of our expression and exploration is also the thing that makes us feel the smallest.

Instead of nourishing a relationship with ourselves to grow as happy individuals, we allow our demons to pick at us until they’ve swallowed us whole. I hate to break this to those of us that struggle with this need to measure self-worth based on physical features and social presence: those likes, those oftentimes ingenuine comments on your posts and pictures — they don’t define you. As much as we try to make it seem this way, those accounts are not who we actually are.

Graphic by Tien Dinh

So, the real question is, where does this eternal insecurity and need for reassurance stem from? Our generation has created almost unattainable goals when it comes to physical features, and moreover what failure to achieve said goals means for our self-worth. If we were all able to obtain that (more likely uncommon) picturesque hourglass figure, we might view ourselves as more. We’ve glorified these picture-perfect features, and instead of this motivating us to work on ourselves for ourselves, we’re destroying our mental health through comparisons. While most people don’t share the same figure as Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid, we shouldn’t lower our own worth because of it. Yes, they’re undeniably beautiful. However, it’s their job to look perfect almost 24/7, and it still doesn’t automatically lessen our individual importance to the world. Although this sounds obvious, it’s a statement we really need to start telling ourselves. Building ourselves up should not involve us tearing down those around us in our minds.

Self-freaking-love, people! The journey to find what makes us happy as independent people has become completely blind-sided by obstacles that essentially mean nothing. These obstacles cause us to see a distorted version of ourselves, a version we see as undeserving based on media’s perception. We put our youngest and most powerful generation at risk of being choked by a metaphorical measuring tape.

So how do we fix this issue? Maybe some of us believe social media is to blame. While this might be the truth, it’s only in our individual hands to overcome it. Instead of succumbing to the pressure of conformity and allowing our weakest points to overcome us, we must fight the fight, not necessarily with society, but with ourselves. Our first instinct is to find the nearest bystander to blame, but what we really need to do is find what it is that we are so unsure about in ourselves and why. Is it something physical? Mental? Metaphysical? We must pinpoint these devil-ish thoughts in order to attack them head-on.

The human race seems to me to be evolving into a world of anger and insecurity fueled by social competition, but we can’t let our minds break down and give in. We must be good and do good until we see good. It’s not something that will come to any of us overnight, but it’s something that each small step will push us towards slowly. Next time you see that overly confident Instagram post on your feed, don’t automatically diss yourself because you don’t find that you add up to enough in comparison. Accept that the only part of us that we can really change is how we see our own beauty. Don’t choose to fight this struggle with more anger or comparison. It’s not a competition with the world, it’s a competition with ourselves. How will you fight? ■

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