The fashion industry has been a leading participant in showing us “the perfect“ body image, making us feel like what they portray is what we should strive for, just to feel beautiful in our own skin and to be accepted by those around us. So we decided to make a series where women share their stories and opinions on this topic.

I have been active on social media for a long time. It's easy to say that beauty standards do in fact influence people and it has influenced me in the past. People look up to celebrities and influencers, so the way they look and what they wear can make people feel like they should look the same, but changing our appearance, not because of ourselves, but because of someone else is just not right.

A few years ago I got a chance to see the modeling industry from a different perspective and it was disappointing. I loved being in front of the camera, I still do, because I felt happy and able to express myself. That`s why I decided to audition for a modeling agency. They took some photos of me, and then a conversation followed. I realized then and there that the only thing they saw in me were numbers, they told me I wasn't skinny enough, even though I considered myself underweight for my height. It made me feel kind of sad, but at the end of the day, this experience opened my eyes and I realized that it wasn't worth it because it could potentially result in health issues, both mentally and physically.

Social media is like a whole new world. It’s a place in which we tend to sink in so deep, that we don’t notice how unrealistic it is. That fake world is only one tap away – just open Instagram and voila – welcome to a different place, where everything and everyone is perfect - food, people, their relationships with each other, their houses, hobbies, etc.

About 5 years ago, I liked what I saw on social media, on television, and in magazines. I didn't like the way I looked so that was a rough period of my life. I constantly compared myself with those good looking models with perfect bodies, stylish clothes, and glowing faces. Then I looked at that person, who stood in front of the mirror – she had reddened, acne-covered face and no confidence. Luckily I found willpower in myself to stop comparing myself to those women who represent beauty which is not even real.

These days fake beauty standards are pretty strict. They mostly impress girls who are still on their way to becoming women. Just “turn on” your critical thinking and you will see things differently. As time goes by, you will start to realize: that the virtual world is not that perfect anymore.

I am glad that more and more people talk about topics regarding fake beauty and its impact on women. There are so many campaigns and other activities that encourage women all around the globe to be as they are – with acne, wrinkles, and curves. We don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Just put your phone away and live the moment as it is - without any filter and without any regrets. We are all unique and beautiful.

We would like to introduce you to these inspirational and wonderful women who agreed to share their stories and opinions on this topic.

I don't follow fashion much these days, but there was a time when I was quite obsessed with my appearance (and also quite unhappy!). It was about wanting to fit in and to belong, I suppose. I'd always felt like an outsider, and I thought that if I looked like everyone else I'd feel like I was "normal". I was also quite shy and afraid of being seen and judged. Finally when I started my business and realised I'd have to be more visible, I hired an image consultant and she helped me both understand what looked good on me, and helped me work through these issues around being seen and belonging. Now getting dressed is a fun way to express myself, but I don't obsess about it like I used to. This also cleared up energy for me to focus on other things in my life & business, so I'm really thankful that I was able to move past that stage!

What I'd tell my younger self is: all the time and energy you're spending on your appearance could be used to make the world a better place. You think people only like you for the way you look, but what they really care about is how you can help make their lives better. And you have so much to give. Learn to love yourself, forgive your past mistakes and hurts, and then focus on what you can contribute to the world. That is far more satisfying than wearing the perfect outfit and having no hair out of place.

It’s easy to learn to hate your body, when the only type of body you ever seen on TV, in magazines or on runways is a body type you’ll never be able to achieve. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to lose weight. I have wanted to be smaller, have more of an hourglass figure and thighs that don’t touch, because that is the type of body I’ve been conditioned to believe is the only acceptable one, the only beautiful one and the only one worth loving. It is not a stretch to say the fashion industry and it’s preference for super skinny women with curves in all the right places, has been the biggest driver of the self hate I felt for years and years of my life. Even “plus-sized” models have body types that I will likely never be able to achieve without the help of a plastic surgeon. And at times the weight of never being good enough because I don’t look like a model has been soul-crushing.

How are young girls supposed to learn how to have a healthy body image when they are constantly bombarded with images of tiny models with big perky breasts? How are they supposed to learn to love their bodies when a body type only a very small percentage of the population will ever achieve is touted as the norm? How are any of us supposed to be comfortable in our own skin, when our bodies look nothing like the ones selling us everything from clothing to cheeseburgers? The fashion industry and it’s ridiculous standards for beauty and body type have created and is continuing to create generation after generation of women who don’t know how to love themselves and embrace their unique beauty because they are being sold the lie that they will never be good enough unless they look like the models they see everywhere. Industries across the board from fashion to beauty to health and wellness have to stop perpetuating the lie that only one body type is acceptable and worthy of love, and we have to stop believing that lie. (Also check her website https://paigefieldsted.com/ for more inspirational and body positivity content)

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