Challenge the standards of what women and men should look like

There is a lot of emphasis on the need to look perfect and young at all times. Media plays a huge part in how we view what is considered attractive in women and men. The standards don’t always mesh with what’s considered beautiful in different cultures or parts of the world, which can lead to complexities for some people. No matter what generation or what part of the world we’re from, there are standards of what’s considered attractive.

Challenge standards

While looks have always been prominent, I’m finding that the focus on looks these days seems more important than what’s on the inside. Scanning Instagram is just one indicator. I’m almost ready to quit Instagram personally. I got too sucked into the game of only posting my best pictures, and it’s time to step out of it.

It happens with the blog too. Sometimes, it takes me as long to pick pictures to go with a post as it does to write it; especially the main one. I always wonder if the photo is polished enough to draw people in to read the post. And I have to say that I do spend a good deal of time writing a post, so the extra time hunting for pictures isn’t time I necessarily have with a full-time job too. I always hope that content will be enough, but I recognize that most of us are visual as well.

Increased pressure

Humber Bay

The need to look perfect has made plastic surgery so popular. The rise in the “plastic surgery norm” has made it difficult for some people who can’t afford it, or don’t want to do it, feel like they’re attractive enough. People get bullied for not looking as good as celebrities or models. Celebrities aren’t even immune to it, so how can the rest of us not feel the pressure?

Personally, I don’t know one person who is 100% happy with the way they look, myself included. Many of us are guilty of being hyper-critical of ourselves and there is always something we can pick apart. For me, my calves drive me nuts. I can’t seem to get them any bigger, no matter how hard I try (without getting implants!). When I was in high school, people picked on me about how skinny I was.

Fake it ‘til you make it approach today

If you can’t afford plastic surgery, you can contour things to make you look different. Don’t have a six-pack but also don’t feel like putting in a lot of effort into working out and changing your eating habits? No problem, you can use makeup to contour to make it look like you have abs. Some also use heavy contouring to alter the appearance of features on their face.

Photoshop, filters, and apps can also help you change your looks. But what does this achieve? You look like a different person in pictures than you do in person. The result of all of this is that it has led to bullying where people are starting to call out other people online for looking so different than expected. It’s a no-win situation for some. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t do it.

So what should someone do with all the pressure to look perfect?

_Love Locks_11
Love yourself as you are

Here are some natural ways I used to learn to embrace the things I wish I could change

I grew up in an area where I stood out as very different looking. I would never be able to look like my friends, so I chose to let it go before it ruined my confidence.

Don’t hold yourself to unattainable standards. Stop living up to unachievable ideals; yours or anyone else’s including family, friends or the media. You don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful. Also, what’s considered attractive on people changes all the time. If it helps, stay off of social media for awhile.

Play up your assets. Like your eyes, smile or arms? Highlight those features. If you’re having trouble nailing down your qualities, ask a friend to help you. It also works to help you focus more on the positive things rather than dwelling on negative ones.

Washington Square Park, NYC
Smile more! Aldo playing guitar

Learn to accept your quirks. Everyone has quirks. Embrace them! What’s original about the way you look is what makes you remarkable and separates you from everyone else. Accentuate it, don’t hide it. For example, if you have a lopsided smile, keep smiling, don’t cover your mouth while you do it. If you highlight what’s unique about you, you may learn to appreciate it more.

Flattery works, so give yourself compliments. Do you even listen to what your inner voice says, or how you talk about yourself to others? Instead of making negative comments, try to say more positive or at least neutral things. It can help remind you that while you may not look the way you want, you have features that you like.

Workout. Even if your body isn’t one of the things you’re concerned about, research shows that when you shift from a focus on looks to function, you feel more positive about yourself overall. If your body is one of the things you are unhappy about, it will help you. Aim for realistic goals. Even though I will never get my calves exactly where I want them based on genetics, I can get them strong. I figure that even if it takes me until I’m 80-years-old, I will confidently rock a mini skirt!

Bicep curls

Treat yourself well. 

  • Eat healthily; it shows on your skin. Poor eating habits can make you look tired, can make your skin look sallow and also lead to other skin conditions.
  • Sleep and drink enough water, for the same reasons as eating well.
  • Don’t forget to pamper yourself! Give yourself an at-home spa treatment once in a while.
  • When you’re feeling less than stellar, throw an outfit on that makes you feel your best, no matter where you’re going.

Reduce the time you spend with people that put you down. I sound like a broken record here but you can’t accept yourself if negativity surrounds you. Moderate the amount of time you spend with them. When you do have to see them, concentrate on the positive things other people say about you and ignore the criticisms. Focus on the positive people in your life.

Sam Tim and Vin
I have a very supportive brother and sister!

Look confident. Stand up straight, hold your head up high and walk like you’re confident, even if you don’t feel it. Acting like you’re a confident person may help you start feeling confident as well. See my point in tip #5, I will eventually confidently rock a mini, but right now I will wear them, but not as confidently as I want!

I hope some of these tips work for you too. Let me know some of yours.



  1. Well done Sam! This is very important. Things do seem worse than even a couple of years ago. The amount of ads for different filter programs that can change your eye, hair and skin color is disturbing. Your tips are great.

  2. This was a really well done post. Thanks for sharing some of your struggles too. I think it’s gotten too far out of control. I shut down my IG account a while ago, and I rarely go on FB any more

  3. This is great Samantha! I agree. I think people try so hard to live up to ideals that aren’t realistic or attainable for most of us. I couldn’t afford half of the surgery needed even if I wanted to do it!

  4. Great tips Sam! I agree that people need to take care of themselves first and be happy with their inner self. We live in a celebrity obsessed culture and some people live vicariously through other people’s lives.

    1. Thanks so much Marko! It is so important. I wonder when (or if) celebrities will stop being such a dominating force in how people perceive what’s normal. It’s such a different life than regular people experience! Thanks so much for your comment. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  5. You posted some very valid points. I am seeing some more posts lately that show the before and after, but there is still a lot of filtering and unreality presented. I keep seeing ads for apps that can make you look different in your photos

  6. Great post. I find from my younger cousins that they feel the need to keep up with what they see on Instagram in particular. They don’t have a healthy view of it for sure, but the people they follow are the ones that perpetuate it

  7. Great post. A lot of the fitness photos on IG are heavily filtered or the models know how to pose to make their bodies look much better. It can have a damaging effect on people that don’t know and think that everyone looks the way they portray. I like that some are now showing the difference proper lighting, posing and filters make.

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