Pressure to meet social norms shouldn't be as prominent as they are.
October 29, 2021
Fashion, looks, body image, all of these and more have societal standards and norms. People set standards like there is only one “correct way” to look at these things. But why? Why is this the case that we must look a certain way? Why do we have to act a certain way? Why do social norms impact us so much, and why should they?
Societal standards have been around forever. An example would be in the early 1800’s when men all wore top hats, or more drastic examples such as how women should be “submissive to men” and men should always be “strong and manly.” If the men or women did not meet such standards, they were judged for it, or back in old times even less than one generation, punished. “Wanna wear nail polish?” nope! That’s too girly for you! “Wanna cut your hair short?” Nope! That’ll make you look like a guy! “Wanna play with the boys?” Nope! You’re a girl, you don’t want to get rough like them! “Can I put on makeup” No! You’re a guy, guys don’t do that! I have experienced some of these in my life and I’m sure many people you know have too, no matter how afraid they are to say it.
Social standards and norms were, and are, still used to silence people’s free thought and expression. This narrative is enforced through social media, religion, and more. Social norms are also terrible for the mental health of, especially, the youth believing that they must look a certain way to be pretty, or meet a certain standard to be considered acceptable. One notable example of this is churches in the 16th century and 17th century (before the “Great Awakening” in the 1720’s through the 1740’s) who used scare tactics and physical force to push their narrative onto others.
Social standards effect everyone’s life, whether they know it or not. I have asked three members in our school who chose to stay anonymous what they think about the issue of society’s standards. One student said, “Social standards are a big problem in our society because they shouldn’t tell us what to do, and traditional isn’t always good.” Another student mentioned, “Social standards are restricting and reduce our sense of independence” and the final student agreed and added, “Social norms are dumb, just because it’s what was ‘Natural’ 100 years ago, it doesn’t mean they have to be in effect now”. With these interviews we can see into the life of how social norms effect all of us on a daily basis, and it is just another reason they shouldn’t pressure others into falling into line.
Overall, social standards and norms are bad for the mental and physical health of many, and shouldn’t be a way we judge our actions. Every human is beautiful, no matter their identity or look. Social norms are shattering every day, and with your help, everyone can feel comfortable again.