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Paul’s Extra Point: Body positivity in the Instagram Age

Studies have shown reading fashion magazines can be bad for your health. But what about the countless pictures of models and celebrities clogging your social media feeds?

Aphrodite was the personification of beauty in ancient Greece. 

Looking at her now, I must admit the goddess, while quite striking, looks a whole lot more like a real woman than her modern competition. 

I guess the hand of a sculptor isn’t as forgiving as an Instagram filter.

Yet Aphrodite’s good looks (and flirtatious nature) helped spark the Trojan War! 

Human history is pockmarked with examples of vanity leading to ruin, yet like moths to a flame, we just can’t help but pursue an unattainable standard of beauty. 

You don’t have to look far to find examples of what we’re supposed to look like.

You used to see beauty magazines everywhere you went. 

Some still adorn the checkout aisles of your grocery store, but in the internet age, they don’t have the reach they used to. 

Turns out, reading fashion magazines like these is bad for your health. Countless studies have confirmed as much. According to one in the Journal of Consumer Research, just looking at an object intended to enhance beauty makes women feel worse about themselves.

Well ladies, how does this make you feel? 

Jennifer Lopez posted a bikini-clad picture to her Instagram account earlier in the week. 

Millions of people have seen it, and I’d bet most didn’t take the time to think about what it takes to look like this. It’s not just good lighting, hydration, and the occasional trip to Orange Theory.

The 49-year-old Lopez has two personal trainers and nutritionists (plural) handling her meals. 

She consumes no caffeine or alcohol, she has time for meditation every day and a family dinner every night. That’s followed by an 8:30 bedtime for the kids, so mom can get a minimum of eight, often times 10, hours of sleep.

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Does that sound like an achievable lifestyle for any of you? 

Of course not. So stop comparing your body to hers! 

She literally gets paid to look like that. If her worth wasn’t reliant upon her beauty, she wouldn’t be paying a staff to keep her in tip-top shape.

And this unattainable standard isn’t an exclusively female problem. 

Comedian Rob McElhenney purposely gained weight then shed the extra pounds for a storyline in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 

He posted this caption to a picture of his transformation:

Look, it’s not that hard. All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don’t eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact don’t eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span. I don’t know why everyone’s not doing this. It’s a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to.

Social media, and Instagram specifically, has become the new beauty magazine. Every day our feeds are full of ideals that at best, we’re subconsciously comparing ourselves to and at worst, are corrupting kids who aren’t worldly enough to understand that real people don’t- and mostly can’t- look and live like that. Follow your favorite celebrities, like their pics, but keep in mind… There’s nothing wrong with having a body like Aphrodite.