#Perspective: Our Body Insecurities and Mental Health

“The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart.” -Fernando Pessoa

By Janisha Patel
By Janisha Patel

We all know that first impression matters, that’s why we care so much about how we look in the eyes of others. For many centuries we have been experiencing huge pressure to look good, a duty to be beautiful, but with the introduction of the internet, digital photography and now selfies the pressure has grown tremendously. Every time we look in the mirror, we tend to pick something up that’s not quite right with us - in comparison with others! It becomes dangerous when the “examples” are even further manipulated to create a false impression of ”beauty”, and may lead to some serious consequences.

With the amount of appearance-focused media that we are exposed to we are constantly taking in messages about how we “should” look, and what appearance means.

This week we talked to Janisha Patel, a student at Kapiti College about her “Barbie” photographic series and her views on the issue of body insecurities and how that can damage our mental health.

Janisha, tell us about your project, where did the idea come from?

At the beginning of the year (2019) I was binge watching America's Top Model. After a few seasons, I started to realize a sort of pattern when it came to what was considered beautiful and what was not. Of course, it was the usual skinny, tall, 0 fat body type that the judges looked for. I thought about how this affected other young girls and if this standard was expected of them.

I was looking through Instagram one day and saw a post about a girl who felt so insecure about her appearance that she began to starve herself and undergo plastic surgery to be more ‘beautiful’. I remember reading, “If I was prettier and skinnier, people would like me without me trying to be someone else, like the other girls”. I kind of just scrolled past and thought to myself, “I know that people have insecurities, in fact, everyone does but I didn't know that girls would go as far as starving themselves in order to be prettier for others”. This was mostly where my motivation and inspiration to take these photos came from.

The Barbie doll has mostly represented the typical standard of beauty in this generation for younger females. This is important to me. Maybe not to everyone, but I find it unacceptable for young girls to feel like they need to care about how they look in order to get social acceptance or to simply be liked by society. To read the full interview, sign up for free here

Everyone wants to be liked and appreciated. Photography is a tool and when we see it has been used in the wrong way – for self-destruction, criticism, or in other negative aspects of life we, as photographers, can use our power to turn things around and show people how beautiful they really are.

Let’s share #photographyforgood and create a positive change. Take your first step by joining our community.

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