The “Perfect Body” Debate is Pointless

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It is the nature of our society to strive for tangible evidence of achievement. Success in the classroom is measured by grades; athletic prowess is indicated by titles won or medals earned, and our material possessions are more often than not perceived as a reflection of financial wealth. It is no surprise that a society so full of judgment, albeit inadvertent or intended, looks to concretely define subjective parts of life, like beauty, and it needs to be put to rest.

It is a pointless, exhausting, and circuitous debate. Why? Because our culture is trying to answer an opinion based, open ended essay question with a “true or false” mindset. I am not anyone with significant influence or importance within my society, but I am a 21 year old young woman living in a culture where physical appearance is highly valued. I am not preaching an answer to this societal speed bump. Rather, I am expressing my opinion.

It is my opinion that a grade point average is not the sole indicator of one’s intelligence or intellectual capabilities. A Division I athlete is by no means automatically more athletic than a Division III athlete, nor do I think that a humble home or lack of material possessions reflect the quality of one’s work ethic or job. Along the same lines, it is my conviction that beauty is immeasurable solely by a particular body type. But it is also my understanding that not everyone follows the same pattern of thinking.

The great body debate is the most recent symptom of a much bigger illness: failure to see the grey area. If the world were black and white, couldn’t you argue that Steve Jobs was stupid, Oscar Pistorius lacks athleticism, and Joaquin Phoenix circa 2010 was unemployed and in financial distress? Sure, based on certain “societal values.” But, why, then, is Jobs considered a genius? How is Pistorius (despite recent circumstances which have no bearing here) a decorated Paralympic athlete? How is Phoenix a handsomely paid actor? Sure, these people are exceptions, but that only proves the fallibility of standards.

But my point is this: as a human being with free will, we have the capability to choose whether or not we buy into these criteria. Stop trying to convince others to agree with your standard of beauty or the perfect body.We generalize, we judge, we have opinions; it’s human nature. There will always be a variety of sentiments with some general consensus, but there will never be a unanimous verdict of defining beauty. I personally find that comforting.

7 Comments

  1. Zoey

    There’s nothing wrong in wanting to improve your fitness level and getting rid of that arm jiggle or the muffin top; when you decide to do it just because society dictates so or because you want to look like X, then things are quite wrong. There’s no such thing as a perfect body and every one of us aspires to something very different so I think there are better things we should focus on, instead of dreaming of the ideal body.

  2. Fit Florence

    I think there is nothing wrong in striving for perfection, but I think that comparing yourself to other people while doing so is wrong. Mainly because we all have different body types and bodily quirks. You may want to look like say, Vlada Roslaykova, but if you have wide hips and shoulders, you will never be able to have that whispy look, for example. Alternatively, if you want to look like Zuska Light but have different muscle patterns in growth and a different body type, you will look different.

    What I’m saying is, that if you want to strive for the perfect body, strive for one appropriate to your own bodily uniqueness. Don’t compare yourself to people with different body types, or you’ll end up miserable. You can trim down the fat, but you can’t rearrange bone.

  3. Ashley

    Bottom line: be who you want to be and don’t worry about what other people think. We can never make everyone happy. Live like that and you will be a lot more happy.

  4. Kyley

    I really enjoyed this open minded post. You made some very good points. I also find it exhausting when people debate this. Basing it just on men’s opinions, you will find men like all shapes and sizes. Some men love 300 pound women, others like 100 pound women, some even – dare I say – LOVE BOTH BIG AND SMALL! We can’t blame men, it is us women letting this happen. We need to end it for the sake of the little girls growing up in this sick world.

  5. Jenna

    I wish everyone can read this. Everyone needs to read this at least once.
    I tell this to my daughter all the time. “People are going to hate you regardless big or small, you can be the nicest person and people will still find a reason to dislike you. Whatever you do, do it for you, do it for your happiness and not for others. Or not because society has these harsh standards and perceived conceptions of beauty.”

    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you Olivia!

  6. Emily

    If I were you tell you my ideal weight loss goal – the body that I’d like to have – I think some people would say, “why?” It just goes to show you that what’s perfect to one person, what’s beautiful to one person, may not be to anyone else. And that’s great. I don’t understand why so much focus is put on fitting into a certain mold. It’s so much unnecessary pressure.

  7. Elouise

    Womens bodies have been sexualized in the media and this mentality is borne of that. Any woman who does not fit the aesthetic social norms is considered to be unattractive…unless she has charisma and confidence, which these days is considered to be unusual and worthy of attention. Beauty ideals change over the decades and one can only hope that the current misogynistic attitude to women passes so one day we can look back and see how repressed our culture really is.

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