Health and Beauty – But at What Cost?

By: Hillary Schulman

Healthy. This word means so many things to so many people. What is being healthy? How can you or I make sure that we are leading a healthy lifestyle? In today’s world, there’s a culture of “go big or go home” or “YOLO” (which makes me cringe). We see the blogs and articles posted about how kale and avocados can change your life and how you too can “blast that belly fat in 2 weeks!” by following a particular regimen or doing a certain exercise. But where is the line that separates healthy and unattainably unnatural? Does being healthy mean looking thinner, or does it mean that your insides aren’t at risk?

For me, being healthy means the latter. True, I should drop a few pounds to ensure my insides aren’t at risk, but that’s me. If I had the stereotypically “perfect” body type, I would be underweight and unhappy. I recently read an article about a girl who overdosed on diet pills, which metabolized in her body too quickly, thereby overheating her body from the inside out and killing her before doctors could do anything. What are we doing to ourselves? Better yet – what is society doing to us? Even more – why are we allowing society to do this to us?

We – even as mere mortals – have the capacity to give in to peer pressure, so much so that we are challenged to redefine our standards of beauty to suit societal standards, media standards. Take Cassey Ho, a social media guru who has helped people become healthy by posting videos of workout boot camp classes and Pilates lessons, called blogilates. People look up to her as a role model. She is sending a positive message, unlike so many other social media gurus, yet she receives comments demeaning her body and telling her she’s fat. Besides the fact that she isn’t – why does it matter? Why should anyone’s view of or comments about Cassey’s body truly affect her? Because she’s human, these comments do affect her. How can they not? Cassey recently posted a few photoshopped selfies on her Instagram showing her with the “perfect” body type. The result: she still got comments about how fat she appeared. Still, other women commented on how Cassey’s reimagined body became ultimately their goal body. Being that skinny, attaining someone else’s idea of perfect, was someone’s body goal. What is happening in the world? Where have we gone wrong?

Celebrities also feed our need for the perfect body. In fact, celebrities make our views of these things even worse. You may or may not have heard of the latest trend: the Kylie Jenner Challenge. First of all, why the Kardashians and Jenners are famous is beyond my comprehension so why people look up to them is a mystery all unto itself. But I digress. Kylie Jenner has recently taken to social media to reveal her new set of lips – enlarged, engorged, ridiculously caricatured lips – lips that teenagers, male and female, are also trying to have. Regardless of how she’s attained these lips, her fans are following suit by suctioning their lips to the rim of a shot glass and inhaling, thus breaking blood vessels, enlarging both top and bottom lips, and perhaps doing some major long-term damage (to both lips and brain). Teens across the country are opting to hurt themselves for these lips. What are we allowing our future generation to get sucked into (pardon the pun, I couldn’t help myself)?

I’ve struggled with my body image all my life. I’m sure so many of us have. It’s been a personal battle of mine, but I have finally found a balance between my personality, my physical being, and the healthy lifestyle I’ve chosen. And now that I’ve started living healthier, I find myself gaining more confidence and having more energy than ever before.

I’m still not a size 2. I don’t think I ever will be, but that’s okay with me. All that truly matters is that one’s insides are healthy. Healthy insides make for truly beautiful outsides, chock full of all the amazing things we are capable of accomplishing – and that’s what makes each of us beautiful. Healthy is the new beautiful. Take that, social media.

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