Social media networks. Source: Christiaan Colen (via Flickr)
Social Policy

Overcoming the Myth of Perfectionism

Comparing ourselves to others is human nature according to social psychologists’ research. In daily life, we see people compare themselves to others who may have a better job, better family life or materialistic objects that they wish to possess. Notably, these comparisons can be useful in motivating yourself to strive towards your aspirations.

But what happens when you are striving to achieve the impossible, asks Emma Randles.

This is an issue that is evident in today’s society. With the growing use of social media, people of all ages are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards through advertisements. It is no secret that adverts make good use of what photoshop has to offer. With the click of a button, you can smooth skin imperfections, create a thinner waist or whiten your teeth. Comparing yourself to this digitally altered aesthetic ideal is unobtainable and may be detrimental to your mental health.

The Digitally Altered Body Images Bill 2019-2021 put forward by Dr Luke Evans MP aims to tackle this problem. The bill would require advertisements, broadcasters and publishers to display a logo where human body parts had been digitally altered in proportions. The bill was proposed on 15th September at the first reading in the House of Commons.

This bill means that it would be clear that the model in the advertisement had been edited, showing the general public that all is not what it seems.

It is no secret that social media has a huge influence on the lives of young people. Reports state that 87% of girls and 65% of boys frequently compare themselves to those that they see in the media. These comparisons may be contributing to various mental health issues such as bulimia and steroid abuse – where individuals may be engaging in unhealthy behaviour to achieve a body image that is deemed as ‘perfect’.

This bill would enable people to identify the unrealistic nature of the images shown in advertisements. This knowledge could be one of the first steps in alleviating the pressure to conform to impossible beauty standards.

Dr Luke Evans MP reported that this is not about removing filters, as seen on Instagram and Snapchat, this is about people having correct information being put in front of them. The bill would empower people through the knowledge that no matter what they may see in adverts, nobody is perfect.

The Girls Attitude Survey led by the Girlguides showed that 88% of girls aged 11-21 want images to be labelled if they have been edited. It is clear that action is needed to be taken. It remains hopeful that this bill may be able, in part, to combat this issue.

On Friday 5th February 2021 The Digitally Altered Body Images Bill 2019-2021 will be discussed at a second reading, where the overall principles of the bill will be considered.

Perhaps this bill will be a step forward in changing societal habits of conforming to beauty standards that are simply not possible.

Emma Randles is the Chairwoman of Clwyd South Young Conservative.

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