Here's What 25 Young Women Think Of Modern Beauty Standards

Sunday, 1 September 2019


Plenty of things might come to mind when the word 'beauty' is mentioned. You might think of that golden glow of the sun as it sets in the evening, (apparently the perfect time to take selfies for Instagram) or the bright blue colour of the sea, (make sure to Snapchat a picture though.) You might think of Kylie Jenner or maybe your Mum, brother, pet goldfish or best friend. Whatever you think of this word, it is part of our daily vocabulary and is splattered across bus-stop adverts and throughout our Instagram feeds whether we know it or not. But what does it mean? What makes something beautiful, and seemingly in the modern world - what makes a person beautiful and why have our standards of what is beautiful changed so drastically? I asked twenty-five young women to try and find the answer.

Image is something that has always been, and still is, incredibly important to many people. With a constant feed of information and images rammed down our throats more than ever, there are more pressures to look groomed and 'perfect' all the time. Not only must we look young, motherly and sexy - we must also look effortless. Some may say these pressures and expectations have always been around, and yes, I agree. But in a world of plastic surgeons, tanning booths and 'I woke up like this' selfies, these expectations are certainly heightened. We are told we shouldn't like how we look and so, we should invest our money into changing it. Beauty is no longer love, beauty is no longer intelligence and beauty is no longer kind.
So like I said, instead of ranting about this by myself, I decided to ask twenty-five young women (as the group most targeted for these kind of attitudes and the group most talked about when discussing this culture,) what was really going on, the pressures they've faced and what they believe beauty to mean. In the words of Sarah, one of the amazing people featured,: 'Modern beauty standards are a mess!'

I also completely understand people of all genders are affected by modern beauty standards and issues parallel to this, and this will be reflected in future articles. If you would like to be part of posts like this in the future and have your say, DM me on Instagram or drop me an email:


Hannah: 'Small waist, thigh gap, no cellulite, no stretch marks, clear skin, bigger boobs. This is what I want. This is what I see on magazines and on Instagram feeds. Is this realistic? Probably not.'

Jodie: 'I feel like we are constantly seeing skinny girls - like overly skinny - in the media constantly, and because of this girls at our age [young adults] and since we were little, are copying and trying to criticise or tease others for not having those beauty standards and then it just create a cycle of people copying this because this is what we are told - extremes. Either really overweight or really underweight - I feel like there is little in between where most of us lie. It's not the media solely to blame, it's other people believing the s**t.'

Thea: 'Everyone knows models are an inaccurate description of women's bodies, so why is a plus size model STILL a size 12 when a size 14 is the average size?'

Phoebe: 'I struggle with modern beauty standards. It confuses me why I have to feel bad about having small boobs when actually they mean I can run, wear cute bralettes or if I want not even bother with one. Who should decide how I feel about my body that I own?'

Lisa: 'What makes someone beautiful to the media is being stick thin but having a big butt and big boobs - which aren't realistic at all without plastic surgery. If you're 'too skinny', you're labelled as 'anorexic' and if you have a bit of fat on your thighs you're labelled as 'overweight.''

Laura: 'I still want what I can't have - a smaller waist, less cellulite, cleaner skin, washboard abs. But I am slowly learning to love me for my imperfections as well as my perfections.'

Olivia: 'Girls look at photo-shopped images leading them to believe that their waists should be tiny and they need a big bum or big boobs when realistically that's all just fake.'

Hannah: 'I'm obsessed with how my body looks and how much cellulite I have on my legs. I find it hard to complain to others about what I see as they don't 'see it' but just see that I am slim or tones. For me, I see cellulite, excess fat and thighs that are too big to fit into my old jeans.'

Sarah: 'Historically, [modern beauty standards] have always been linked to what the richest lifestyle is and I think that is still true - impossible bodies that require personal training and specialist expensive diets are completely unattainable for the majority of people! But they're what society rewards most. The money side of beauty standards is so much more important than most people see it to be.'

Phoebe: 'Everyone has different body types because we are all created for different things, yet we all seem to be forced to look the same.'

May: 'Growing up, I thought beauty meant having a flat stomach, clear skin and perfect makeup.'

Melissa: 'When a boy (or whatever gender is your sexual orientation), calls you fat you're heartbroken, not because what he has said is so horrific, but because you believe him to be the voice for all men, and now you know he will never love you, want to date you, see you like he sees other girls. You believe you are unlovable.'

Hannah: 'For impressionable people seeing a model in a bikini with perfect perky breasts and bum, but with a thigh gap and smooth legs it's going to make the viewer feel like sh*t!'

Amber: 'There's a pressure to look some sort of way such as skinny with curves.'


Nibiya: 'The standard of beauty is just anything but who you are.'

Lisa: 'People are shamed for being themselves.'

Hannah: 'I'd like to think I'm confident in my body and embrace my flaws but I don't. I constantly compare myself to others.'

Alice: 'It's sad that people can be so shallow and can judge a beautiful person purely on the way they look. People think being beautiful is about looking how people want you to look and looking the same as everyone else, but I think it's far more attractive to be yourself and be unique.'

May: 'It wasn't until about six months ago that I finally started accepting who I am, I'm still nowhere near ready to call myself beautiful and there are days where I look in the mirror and hate what I see and think I'm back to square one. But there are always days where I feel confident.'

Thea: 'This kind of thing is what damages people's mental health and their confidence and it just seems to be getting worse.'

Gemma: 'Everyone feels they need to look certain ways and act certain ways to fit in, like when people feel like they have to wear makeup and dress certain ways to feel beautiful when really they should just be themselves. Everyone gets judges for looking or dressing certain ways and it's especially when it's to impress guys. It's so hard to fit in and feel happy and confident in ourselves now a days when the standards are set so high.'

Ellie: ''Beauty standards' are just someone people have created about the certain 'standards' on how they should look, the clothes they should wear, the way that they act and the 'standards' in which they personally believe they will be accepted. No girl should believe that they don't fit into a category that society expects them to fit into.'

Lisa: 'It all made me so self conscious growing up to the point when I didn't want to leave the house because I felt so out of place. I'm still suffering from low self esteem from four years ago because of all the beauty standards pushed on to me at the time.'

May: 'Growing up with modern beauty standards has definitely had a big impact on my self confidence and not for the better.'

Ellie: 'Girls should be free to wear what they want and look how they want without being judged on and criticised by others. They should be able to be happy and confident in themselves and feel that they don't have to wear makeup just because everyone else does because they believe it is expected of them.'

Hannah: 'At 16 I shouldn't restrict what I eat or put so much pressure on how I look each day but I do and it must be due to the high expectations we face. Girls can never be happy. Well, that's what we think if we insist on hiding flaws and using face tuning apps and photo-shop.'


Tilly, Heather & Amy: 'The media focuses too heavily on being skinny, flawless and perfect when in reality this is so far from how everyone looks and puts people down if they don't look exactly how they think 'beautiful people' should look.'

Thea: 'These days people are so keen to make their voices heard and make their points about how messed up society's ideas of beauty can get. So many people are eager to speak about it, but there's only a few people that are willing to do something. Talking about it is obviously an amazing step but that isn't enough anymore.'

Phoebe: 'I look at Instagram, bus stops, magazines, TV, YouTube and all I see are women with the same body type and so yes, it makes me look at mine and want different. It bugs me the pressure that men and women face now. We need to embrace body diversity and that means in the media as well.'

Sarah: 'Beauty standards for women are arguably much harsher than they are for men, this might be due to history, or due to the many movements like 'I Weigh' which seem to primarily talk about women (I do love that campaign though - I just think it could be a bit more balanced between genders).'

Olivia: 'I know for a fact girls spend hours each day looking at social media where all sorts of celebrities post unrealistic photos to paint the perfect, idyllic life and it makes other girls pressured about their own lives not being like that.'

Flora: 'Social media is seen as 'getting rich quick', and is for many a career path that they enjoy and thrive within. However it is almost like a reward scheme for veneers, gym selfies and hair extensions - the more you show these things the more money you can earn. It's a reward scheme for being fake.

Evie: 'Social media is very hard when it comes to the pressure it brings to look a certain way and follow specific trends. But also how it puts pressure on you to make yourself look 'perfect' all the time for other people instead of doing these beauty things to make yourself feel good. Instead it feels like a necessity so others can judge you based on how you present yourself and it takes the fun out of it.'

May: 'The media needs to take responsibility for the impact they have on people growing up, as everyone is affected in one way or another, and I don't want the next generations growing up in such a toxic environment where self hate is encouraged.'

Molly: 'I've realised how damaging and unrealistic modern beauty standards are because of social media. We all want to look like the girls on Instagram when in reality they're all edited.'

Liv: 'Social media is a bundle of confusion for young people. Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook twist definitions of beauty and makes beauty something that is unreachable. Being beautiful is being edited. Who can get the whitest teeth? Whose eyes are the brightest? Are your eyebrows 'on fleek'? In an age where social media is the pinnacle of modernity being yourself could not be further away from girls' Instagram pages. Imitation becomes the new normal.'

Nibiya: 'Beauty standards keep on becoming more prominent in people's daily live and on social media. It can influence the younger generation in a bad way, coming to a point where 'being unique' and 'being yourself' is no more.'

Thea: 'It's definitely time more people tried to actively do something rather than just write something on Instagram and hope that it helps somehow.'


Willow: 'It's not just the looks, the smile or the eyes as most people would say. It's much more than that. It's the confidence, self love and determination we have. The capability of tackling all obstacles thrown at us with a smile on our face while being able to help others. Beauty is more than just looks and personality, it's what a woman is and it's not noticed enough.'

May: 'What makes someone beautiful is their smile, how their face lights up when they're laughing with their friends, or talking about something their passionate about. It's when someone looks confident in their own skin and is willing to take risks and go on adventures.'

Laura: 'Beauty to me is forever changing. When I was younger, beauty was Mum - how she was full with so much love and kindness. Beauty was my football team all running together with the brightest smiles you had ever seen when we scored. As I grew up, society crushed that innocence until beauty was having the smallest frame possible, bright eyes, a smile to die for. Society continued to rip away what I though was beautiful until I was left with an 'ideal', and I struggled to build back up what beauty was. But I did.'

Tilly, Heather & Amy: 'We think beauty looks like someone who is comfortable in their own skin and confident in themselves, also not necessarily their physical beauty but the beauty of their personality.'

Hannah: 'Beauty isn't how perfect someone's figure is, but how they're able to connect with others and support and treat people well without holding grudges or causing unnecessary problems. Beauty is being kind without thinking and being a true friend to anyone who needs you in that particular moment. Beauty is about embracing yourself and living life to the full and being happy that you are you and that person is beautiful.'

Jodie: 'Their personality and how they click with you.'

Phoebe: 'Their heart. Everything comes from there. They way they treat someone, they way they act, the things they say. The more you seek good qualities in someone, for me, I grow to find them beautiful.'

Nibiya: 'Solely someone's personality and how willing they are to make other people feel happy about themselves. How they help others that need something more than they do. That's literally what makes someone beautiful, not appearances.'

Thea: 'Beauty literally has nothing to do with physical looks. It's so much more to do with how you are as a person and a human being and how you make other people feel about themselves. Beauty comes from compassion and kindness and having the ability to affect someone's life in a positive way and I believe being able to put a smile on someone's face is much more beautiful than what might be considered conventionally 'pretty.''

Olivia: 'Qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness, kindness and the ability to listen to others are important to make someone beautiful.'

Gemma: 'Someone being confident in themselves makes them beautiful.'

Alice: 'The thing that makes a person the most beautiful is their kindness, positiveity and attitude towards others and would do anything for anyone. The best thing to wear is always a smile because people can tell so much about a person by how smiley and positive they are.'

Phoebe: 'When someone helps you feel good about yourself and for me, the more you get to know someone the more beautiful they become.'

Molly: 'People's beauty comes from inside, like if you're a nice person and treat people well and with respect - that makes you beautiful.'

Ellie: 'Everyone is beautiful no matter what they look like and that everyone should have the right to be happy and not be judged for it.'

Amber: 'I think confidence makes someone beautiful, if they're confident with who they are and what they look like, they're beautiful. I also believe that people don't see themselves as beautiful yet other people do.'

Olivia: 'Someone's personality makes them beautiful. It's not about looks and appearance, it's what is inside that matters. People are brought up in the view especially in your teenage years sometimes, that those thoughts can become less important and girls specifically worry and fret about looking good for other people. I think people's qualities show their real beauty.'

Nina: 'Happiness and personality makes someone beautiful.'

Sarah: 'Beauty is a very abstract concept - to me it's a mix of both physical and emotional. People are most 'beautiful' when they're happy in themselves. But it's also so subjective. Everyone finds something different beautiful you know? Maybe everyone finds the things that they want to see in themselves the most beautiful when they see them in others?'

Laura: 'Beauty to me now is laughing until you can't breathe, or the expressions on someone's face when they're completely consumed by a book or movie. Beauty is the stories we carry on our shoulders and our individuality. Beauty is what makes us, us.'

If you would like to change this kind of culture, please: unfollow those who bring down your confidence; don't read the tabloids promoting this culture; do not like the posts, pictures and hateful comments that are emphasising this toxic environment; do not buy products from shops who hire models that are not inclusive of every ethnicity, background, weight and gender; start petitions against unhealthily thin mannequins in shops. Give your time, views and money to people and causes that are breaking these barriers. Simply by liking an Instagram post, reading a tabloid story on Snapchat, or talking in an unnecessarily disrespectful way to another person you are encouraging this culture.
You can complain about society all you like and raise awareness of these issues, but at the end of the day you are part of society and what you do matters.

From the bottom of my heart thank you so much to every single person who contributed to this article, you are all kind, intelligent and truly beautiful people. Thank you x

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I think you are bloody beautiful. And not just because you're reading my blog. But that helps haha. (Now go leave a comment and share with your bezzie mates).
Lots of love,


  1. These "standards" are so bad and they make me sad. Every woman is beautiful on their own way - despite all these silly standards.
    Many thanks for your kind comment on my blog. Do you want to follow each other?
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Hun, I completely agree! x

  2. Stunning post Grace and a very important message x
    I'm very glad to have been a part of it xxxx

  3. I hate these topis about women, we all are beautiful in other way, nothing else matters ❣

    1. I completely agree Hun, thank you so much for stopping by! x

  4. Well done for this post you’ve smashed it xx

  5. This was so beautifully presented, and the things that these young women have said are so important and eloquently written. I'm glad that even though there is so much pressure on girls my age, there are people who know that its wrong and are fighting societies pressures.

    Women living and supporting other women is beautiful xxxx

    1. Thank you so so much for such a gorgeous comment!! x

  6. Yes it seems for all the progress we have made in some ways we have taken a step back. The image of a fairly thin woman with a big butt and boobs is for men...

    Allie of

  7. Unfortunately this is the world we live in now. Such a shame! Each lady spoke nothing, but the truth.

  8. I’m so so proud of you, you’ve showed the message in such a beautiful way and it clearly outlines the issues in today’s society. Well done gorgeous xxxx

  9. It's amazing how much we still judge ourselves instead of celebrating our unique features. I fall in this trap quite often myself. Even though I know I am often measuring myself up to Photoshop

    1. Thank you so much for such a lovely comment Hun x

  10. Such a great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Carina |

  11. Thank you so so much for this so important and inspiring post, it definitely made me think about this theme. Have a wonderful new week dear, love x S.Mirli!

  12. What a beautifully put-together and inspiring post and I love your call-to-action towards the end of the post. We need to break this vicious cycle and realize that we are all beautiful and perfect in our own unique way.

  13. What an incredible post! Being aware of how society has skewed our perspectives is so important. Thank you for sharing all these voices.

    1. Thank you so much for such a lovely comment :)

  14. Such a great post!
    xx- Nina

  15. It was interesting to read their perspective. It is good that these young women are able to see that the society's norm of beautiful doesn't have to put their own, that they can make their own rules and definitions...but it seems that many women still fall victim to this social ideal of perfection, even if they know it is not a good thing.

    1. Thank you so much for such a gorgeous comment Hun! x

  16. Some very interesting takes! Thanks for sharing!

  17. This was so interesting to read. Thanks fro sharing. xx

  18. This is wonderful to read. Especially that we DO have a part in it and can affect others.

  19. We all are varied with so many physical and mental characteristics and I think that this variety is wonderful. World would be boring if all people looked the same - according to one scheme.


    1. I completely agree Hun, thank you for commenting x

  20. Beautiful post dear!!

  21. Thank you for bringing awareness to this incredibly important issue. It is important to love yourself and appreciate your body without anyone else’s approval.


  22. It's a very important message.

  23. The last message just makes me feel sad. I'm lucky I haven't felt it ever since but there are really people who doesn't want to interact because they're afraid that they're out of place. This is a good read! Thanks for sharing!


  24. This is such an important message. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Great post. Thank you for sharing! :)
    New post -

  26. This is such an interesting post and it's sad to see people feeling so underrepresented in things - we definitely have a long way to go to share more types of beauty in the media - as there is no standard - it's different in different walks of life and culture and countries..everyone is beautiful in their own way!

    I'm so glad that I didn't have the pressures of social media growing up and my worth was never defined by a beauty standard. I've noticed some really odd talk coming from some family members on hubby's side so I'm really careful with what I say to the boys and how we address and label things - I want them to have the same upbringing I had where no-one talks negatively about their bodies!

    Hope that your week is off to a good start :)

    Away From Blue

    1. I completely agree with you Hun, everyone is so beautiful and social media seriously contributes to the kind of culture I mentioned in the post. Thank you so much for such a lovely comment Hun, you're so kind! x

  27. This is such an inspiring and eye-opening read. Thanks for sharing dear!

    Jessica |

  28. This is such an interesting and important post. It's really reassuring (although upsetting) to know that so many of us feel the same about unattainable beauty standards.
    Soph - x

    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment and I completely agree! x

  29. Thanks for sharing this, really love this post.

    The Style Fanatic

  30. Thank you for posting this! It is such a painful thing to read, how we get to hate our looks because of unrealistic standards promoted by people we will never even know. The girl who didn't want to leave her house, I totally get her. I've been there, sometimes because I look bloated, sometimes due to acne. These are very painful experiences.
    I agree with the one saying that we are all beautiful, we are. I've never met an ugly woman. Honestly, the only ugliness I've ever seen comes from the brain: mean criticism, unhappiness, negativity, rudeness, jealousy. No face is ever ugly. No body is ever ugly.


    1. Thank you so so so much for such a wonderful comment Hun. I wanted to write something that not only highlighted what was actually going on, but make sure people didn't feel alone - we are all experiencing this and we all have the power to change it x

  31. Oh wow, this was such an interesting - and insightful! - post to read through. It seems as though most of the thoughts shared reflect the same kind of views on beauty standards; and I'm sure we can all in some way to relate to these thoughts! x

  32. What a wonderful post! I love all the different opinions you shared. It was so interesting to read them. We do have rather unhealthy standards for beauty as a society...

    Kathrin | Polar Bear Style

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my lovely :)

  33. Totally agree with your article Grace! We receive "perfect pictures" all the time... and forget what's important: to be a good human being, help others, love yourself, be happy and make others happy.
    I love social media, and I always try to show the best part of my life, but being realistic and natural!
    Thanks for your article, trully.



    1. Thank you so much for such an amazing comment my lovely ! X

  34. What an inspiring post! I totally agree with these opinions. I believe everyone is unique and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    xo, Joling

  35. Absolutely amazing post. I did such a great job with interview these girls. I need to say that I'm sad after reading about how they feel about beauty standards today and I can understand that is very hard growing up looking at perfect photos and body of models or influencers. I trying through section Inner Beauty on my blog write more about what is important and what is true beauty. Perfect body without cellulite, flawless make up and fillers aren't that.

    New Post -

    1. Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment Hun, you're so kind to open up!! xx

  36. Loving the format of this post and such an imprtant topic! I think if I grew up in todays environmentm, it would be even harder and today even young girls get a totally wrong picture of beauty and their own body.
    So good that you picked up on this ♥


  37. I reallly appreciate this post. It is really hard growing up in this world of social media and age of comparison. I really think beauty shines from the inside out <3

  38. It's so sad that so many women old and young think that in order to be seen and heard they must look a certain way. Beauty means so many thingst and I agree with comments above, icomes from within, but if we don't even accept ourselves how can we ask anyone else to? Great post.

    1. I completely agree Hun, thank you so much for such a lovely comment! x

  39. This is a very interesting and complex topic...

  40. Such a great post<3 Thanks for sharing! Regards:**

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