The Pressures of Appearance

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There are pressures in daily life: the pressure to uphold responsibility, the pressure to do what we must. There is also the pressure of appearing in a way that society dictates we must: having the perfect hair, the perfect body, the perfect features.

That pressure can feel enveloping, even to celebrities. We have seen examples of this in numerous forms of media, most prevalently in music. The pressure of appearance is real and has its impacts in many aspects of life.

Selena Gomez: Perfect

One of the most famous songs that shows the vulnerability of those pressures is “Perfect” by Selena Gomez. The song talks about a relationship from her perspective, with her significant other “keeping company” that Selena is dubious about.

On the surface, it is about a relationship seemingly on the rocks. In the song, Selena feels that she is now the “side” woman, that he is physically present but absent emotionally. She is envious of how much he loves the other girl and can’t imagine how perfect she needs to be to have such an impact on him.

It is that last line that perhaps strikes deepest. To the public, Gomez is everything one could want to be: rich, famous, and beautiful. But if anything, it illustrates the pressure of appearance and how it can impact anyone at any time.

Though she has not openly talked about the impact that it had on her, Gomez illustrates that this failed relationship had an impact on her own self-perception. It makes things difficult in her relationship and her life.

The Impact of Media on Self-Appearance

The impacts of technology can be seen and felt in just about every aspect of life. While there are a lot of good things to come from this, there are a lot of bad as well. One of the biggest negative impacts has to do with how most people view their appearance and how they handle self-esteem.

In the media – social media, print, television, etc. – we are presented with what is perceived to be the ideal appearance. We see beautiful celebrities and are taught that this is what we should strive to achieve: that perfect body, the perfect hair, the perfect features, the rich and famous life.

In turn, these unsaid expectations have had a dramatic impact on the way that most of us perceive ourselves. We are presented with these unsaid expectations and naturally compare ourselves to what we see. Some are able to ignore these things, to focus on what we like about ourselves. Others, however, become obsessed with looking how we are taught to look.

The Pressures

Where does the pressure of appearance really come from? Sure, everything starts with those media avenues but they are from a distance. Where the pressures really come from are from peers, family, and social media.

There is an expectation that, if you don’t have nice things or don’t look a certain way, then you are not as good as those who adhere to those standards. The sad part is that this perception is everywhere. Collectively, our self-esteem is lower than ever before because we are inundated from every side with these false expectations.

The pressures can lead to pretty drastic, forced changes on our part. It can mean working out more often than normal. It can mean engaging in crash diets that seemingly result in weight loss but are really unhealthy in the long-term. It can mean buying clothes that we can’t afford or living a lifestyle that is not sustainable.

There are potential damages that are far-reaching when it comes to these pressures. It is part of the downside of being connected to everyone at all times.

How to Handle It

It can be incredibly difficult to handle these pressures. Some handle it better than others. Some feel the immense need to fulfill those expectations. The best that can be done is to limit exposure to things such as social media where the pressures are greatest.

The simple fact of the matter is that we all deal with self-esteem issues, be it publicly, privately, or both. Managing those expectations is easier said than done but it is important to make sure that we do the best to love ourselves.

Those expectations are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Being able to filter what we are told can be difficult, but it is the best path towards finding self-esteem and loving ourselves. That is the most important thing of all.


For both men and women, boys and girls, there are societal pressures that abound. One of those pressures is the way that we are meant to look. Certain aspects of media make us feel as though we have to be perfect: have the perfect body, the perfect hair, the perfect features.

If anything, the song from Selena Gomez also goes to show that there are pressures on those who are deemed to be “perfect” already. It shows that we are all inherently human, dealing with our own issues. The expectation of being “perfect” can be damaging and harmful even to those who seemingly “have it all.”


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