It becomes an all too familiar story when your sister, best friend, work colleague and brother’s new girlfriend uploads a beautiful photo sitting pool-side, relaxing with a colourful concoction in hand beneath the clear blue skies and 44 degree summer heat whilst you squeeze into a train carriage of sweaty strangers like a child’s squishy toy feeling an immeasurable cup of dissatisfaction and inadequacy.
As social media continues creeping into our systems like a frustrating summer flu refusing to flush out of our systems no matter the honey lemon ratio in our natural remedy teas, a new study has discovered the extent of the damages social media plays in setting the ideology and framework of perfection in women.
New studies carried out by Girlguiding suggests, out of 1000 girls and women surveyed, a third expressed how they felt affected by the epidemic addiction spending time browsing and generating a ‘perfect image of themselves’ to the online world as well as feeling their physical appearance not measuring to the standards of ‘perfect’ as defined online so much so it has begun taking a toll on their mental wellbeing. Understanding normalcy between a pinch of jealousy after learning a friend has vacated to an Elysian paradise South of France and a spiral of low self-esteem and feeling perpetually imperfect highlight as two separate items and if you are experiencing the latter, we have gathered a few suggestions proven to help you overcome the uneasiness of society’s definition of a perfect woman to prevent inherent damage to your overall wellbeing.
Stop the culture of comparing
In the rising digital age and vast technological advancements enabling instant insight into almost every single person’s world and lifestyle through their Instagram page, a cumulus of comparison amongst girls has naturally and inadvertently developed and seeped into their lives as they scroll past post after post as part of their daily agenda. This new culture does not only fray a competitive nerve amongst women to portray ‘the perfect façade’ of their lifestyle to the online world but trays a dish of pressure, stress and incompetency too.
The idea of ‘perfect’ fuels into these hostile feelings and emotions and is the enemy to personal wellbeing (source). Yes, your friend may have been able to buy the latest model of the new sports car or is currently on their nineteenth beachside holiday this year but you must remember, these are singular captured frames of their lives in the best light yet their lives go beyond the 10 x 10 aspect ratio square. These snapshots should not form the basis of comparison due to the unrealistic nature of the capture.
Humans have a natural tendency to compare and for some, it allows becomes a driving force to strive for better, however, the comparison should go beyond a picture frame so rather than sitting in bed feeling inadequate, go out, absorb and connect with different people from different backgrounds as these references are most real and authentic.
It becomes very easy to be stuck in our own ways, plagued with our own thoughts doubting personal success and happiness and one method to overcome our idea of ‘perfect’ inlaid by society and social media is shifting mindsets. As Dr Ilene Strauss Cohen from Barry University discusses, our perception of life is influenced by personal past experiences of what is expected which then becomes our reality, crumbling our wellbeing.
Opening up the mind to accept the idea you are enough, you are worthy and the experiences from the past do not and should not define or rule over the present day version of you will ultimately drive you towards freedom from the need to be perfect as well as guide you into reinvesting the energy for striving to be perfect into being the best possible version of you for you, the most effective antidote to a healthy personal welfare. Approval should not be sought through anyone else apart from yourself because you are the handler responsible for your personal happiness in all things.
In order to move forward, away from a patch of negativity is learning to let go of the negative thoughts, the original causative factor that had submerged us into the negative space. The thoughts of being incompetent, inadequate, and imperfect with individuals putting us on a meter rating us based on our mistakes anchor us, inhibiting personal progress. In order to move forward to follow the personal calling of happiness, achieving the dreams we want, we must learn to let go and by doing so, we build resilience against these negative forces as we remain solely focused and determined on the things we know provide fulfilment for us. Remember, happiness is subjective on a personal level so what person A deems fulfilling may be a nightmare for another. Always listen and follow what your heart tells you, as it knows you best, a beating drum in response.
The journey of life consists of roadblocks, speed bumps and traffic marshals and by understanding the purpose of these obstacles is inconsequential and impersonal but vital for the rewarding end-result is a positive upturn of thoughts that can help us overcome chasing the idea of being perfect and negative criticism.
Although it may be hard to acknowledge this concept when things continue falling through and you feel stuck in a pit of the quicksand of perpetual darkness, repeating positive statements of reinforcement has proven effective in overturning negative thoughts. Some common phrases to practice include: “nobody is perfect”, “everyone makes mistakes – we are all human” and “these imperfect features are what makes me unique.” Having acknowledged the concept of ‘perfect’ is mute, humming these phrases on repeat can gear us into being more realistic by breathing positivity, crowding out negative self-deprecation. Falling down does not mean failure but rather strengthens our resilience and fears against the concept of failure.