Beauty and fashion “rules”: More hurtful than helpful?

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What happens when we apply a rule to one’s personal appearance?

Since the start of the beauty and fashion industry, there have always been several “rules” put into fruition. Such rules tell consumers what lipstick shades they shouldn’t wear due to their skin tone, what eyeshadow looks best with their given eye color, and even the idea that certain dress colors don’t match their skin tone best.

With this concept often being driven into many individual’s minds on a daily basis, the effect on one’s body image could be very possible.

Annie Giupponi, a self-esteem and eating disorder therapist at Rooted Counseling in East Lansing, Michigan, said that there is potential for shame any time an individual feels that they must do one thing or another.

“When we don’t look or dress or act how we’re told we should, we can begin to feel less than or not enough,” said Giupponi. “Not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, sexy enough – the list could go on forever.”

Giupponi said many individuals begin to look into all the ways in which they don’t fit the industry’s standard rather than appreciating their own uniqueness and what they contribute by just being themselves.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with paying attention to fashion or beauty or appearance, but we need to keep them in perspective as only part of who we are, and certainly not the most important part,” said Giupponi.

Giupponi said it is important to keep in mind that advertisements are created to sell you, the consumer, a product of some sort.

“Ads are designed specifically to play on your insecurities; otherwise they wouldn’t sell a single thing,” said Giupponi.

Giupponi said to help combat this idea in one’s mind, a good exercise is to write a letter of gratitude to yourself.

“Instead of focusing on all the things your body isn’t, write a letter thanking your body,” said Giupponi. “Especially those parts you’ve been especially critical of, for all the amazing things it helps you do.”

Sarah Leffler, a junior physics major at Michigan State University, said these “beauty rules” can be negative towards one’s body image because the rules insinuate that only certain things work with an individual’s skin tone and looks good on them.

“It puts something in your head that makes you think you don’t meet certain societal standards,” said Leffler. “Not tan enough, not tall enough, or not skinny enough.”

Leffler said she has personally experienced this before when dress shopping in high school.

“The lady at the salon told me I couldn’t get a black dress because “black doesn’t look good with brown eyes,” said Leffler. “The smallest detail, that I don’t agree with at all, destroyed me as a 17-year-old.”

Mattie Milne, a sophomore journalism major at MSU, said when beauty rules are presented to an individual it can be hurtful to their body image due to the fact that they are often unattainable goals.

“For one thing, I feel like advertisements are super photoshopped,” said Milne. “The girl who’s on the commercial doesn’t even look like the girl on the commercial.”

Milne said these rules that companies make tend to get in one’s head and in turn cause individuals to overthink.

“Subconsciously girls then make beauty rules for themselves,” said Milne.  “It’s super messed up but it happens with the way the world is now.”

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