Funhouse Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Distorted Perceptions of Perfection Influenced by Society


Where we have grown up, who we spend our time with, and what we see in the media all affects how we perceive ourselves and others around us. One big social influence is on our body image and self-esteem. How many times have you found yourself comparing how you look to a celebrity or a friend or some stranger walking by? "How come I do not look like him?" "Man, I'd kill to have those cheekbones." "Her butt is perfect. Mine sucks... I suck. No one will want me." You get the idea.

Funhouse Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Distorted Perceptions of Perfection Influenced by Society

Overall, we think of those with gorgeous bodies to be perfect, to be successful, to have everything going right for them. If we have any flaws, whether they are actually there or not based on our perceptions, we deem ourselves to be unworthy in some way or another. We internalize these ideas from external sources. Now... just where do these ideas come from? How do they affect us? Let's check 'em out.


Your parents, grandparents, older siblings, and the like are the first influences you have in your lives. This is the "nurture" part of your environment. You learn manners from your parents. You learn how to dress properly. You learn what is right and what is wrong.

You also might hear someone in your family react negatively to body image concerns. A young girl might see her mom fuss over her hair on a daily basis and incessantly try to cover up her face with a layer of products, making the girl assume that is what she needs to do to look good. A teenage boy might hear his father discussing with his friends the idea that jocks and the like get all the women, that skinny dudes are not wanted. He may end up feeling ugly for not having enough muscles. You might have been compared with your sister for years, some calling her the "pretty one."

These situations and people can leave lasting impressions on you as you get older. Anyone who has children or is thinking about having them in the future should remember to watch what is said around them. As the saying goes, "A child's mind is like a sponge." It will retain things that seem unimportant to you and internalize them in ways you did not think possible.

Funhouse Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Distorted Perceptions of Perfection Influenced by Society

Friends and Peers:

We all know that friends' opinions become more valuable as we get older. The comments from your family members might and probably do become less important. Once puberty hits, we start to want that attention from whichever gender we are attracted to. We want to look good for that special guy or gal... or a whole bunch of 'em, whatever floats your boat. Teenage girls comparing each themselves to one another starts to become a huge thing as well. "Oh, my goodness. You look so good! I loooove your hair! Your eyebrows are on fleek! I look so disgusting." It is so commonplace that you may not even think of how that truly is affecting your views on your body or how it affects someone else's.

This clip from "Inside Amy Schumer" sums things up well enough. *Disclaimer: Do not watch this is you are easily offended and/or dislike foul language.*

The Media:

You knew this one was going to be on the list. The media - whether it'd be television, social media, movies, even Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe action figures, etc... - plays a huge role in our lives. The media plants unrealistic expectations in our minds all the time. You see more actors and actresses with slim, muscled physiques and flawless skin than you do with ones that have a slight belly and stretch marks or acne scars. Any time those gossip columns and magazines get a hold of a famous person looking slightly less than "perfect," they run with it. "Oh, look at her with her cellulite and pudgy stomach!" "What so-and-so REALLY looks like!" As such, when we see those things in print or film, we assume and start to believe that we should look like them and must be hideous just because our bodies have a little bit extra fat or we do not have every strand of hair in place.

Funhouse Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Distorted Perceptions of Perfection Influenced by Society

The thing is - and more and more people are recognizing this - that many of the images we are presented are not true reality. That model on the magazine cover has been Photoshopped. That celebrity walking the red carpet has a bunch of make-up on her face to cover up that zit (though she probably still looks beautiful without all the foundation and concealer). That actor works out for hours a day and has a super restricted diet to help him obtain those chiseled abs. With that in mind, many of us do not have the time in our days to work out for hours. We do not have make-up artists at our beck and call. We do not have Photoshop that can alter how we look daily.

What does all of that tell us, ladies and gents? That zit, a scar, a little chub, a little less hair on the top of your head than you would like... they are not as bad as the media makes it out to be. You can still look handsome or pretty with a few "flaws," which many probably see as a non-issue anyway. Work towards obtaining realistic goals for yourself if you think you need some work... and know that someone out there thinks you look damn good. ;)


Funhouse Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Distorted Perceptions of Perfection Influenced by Society
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Most Helpful Guy

  • Dipsy
    Why do people always say that 'the media', 'society', 'the people' show what you have to be like? I mean, people have brains and can think for them selves aswell... right?

    I mean when you see a (photoshopped) model, people don't think? "Damn, I should look like that aswell, or else I'm ugly."
    I think such people really need to think for themselves. I mean, when you don't look like the perfect model, that doesn't mean that your plain ugly and you'll die alone because everyone thinks you look like a hideous troll, right?
    I think these media things have too much influence on some people
    Is this still revelant?
    • I definitely agree. I think more people are realizing exactly what you shares, though, thankfully.

Most Helpful Girl

  • asheslee
    Thank you so much for sharing this! One of the things that my husband has constantly reinforced is that we are all perfectly imperfect. I am grateful for him because he helped me to understand that my flaws are just as beautiful as the rest of me. They are, after all, a part of me. How boring would the world be if we were all pop culture's definition of perfection? The truth is that most of us like different things, and I believe we all have a purpose that we are perfect to fulfill. This is a great take with lots of excellent points.
    Is this still revelant?
    • You're welcome, and thanks for reading! I'm glad you found that it rings true to your beliefs. :) I'm trying to remind myself of what I wrote as well. We all get a little too critical of ourselves at times, and it's important to remember that none of us are perfect. We all have "flaws," even if they're not a big deal.

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • CHARismatic110
    Flaws make you who you are. We often forget that and it's hard to think of it when you're looking in the mirror and your chubby belly, but it's important to remember. Great Take, love.
    • Thank you for sharing that. It's very true, and I forget that statement myself.

      Thanks for checking it out. ❤

    • No problem. You're a natural.

    • Ohhhhh, you. Now THAT'S compliment coming from you.

    • Show All
  • RJGraveyTrain
    This was another awesome read, I'm lucky to have such good writers representing #TeamRJ
  • redeyemindtricks
    Comparing to others can be a vicious cycle, yeah. Fo sho.

    But... It can also go the other way.

    Case in point:
    A big part of my POSITIVE self-image CAME FROM comparing myself to others.


    Specifically, I'd look at other women I thought were goddesses, and find the SAME "flaws" I found in myself!

    When I was a teenager, I was OBSESSED with the asymmetry in my face. My eyes don't have exactly the same shape, and my jaw isn't exactly as round on the left side of my face as on the right side.
    Like any other teenage girl, I was hyper-self-critical about these things... until I looked VERY closely at pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Crawford, two of the "goddess-on-earth" women I idolized.

    Sure enough...
    Cindy's left eye is slightly higher and larger than her right, and her jaw is more square on her left.
    Marilyn's left eye is lower than her right, and the left side of her face is actually a little wider than the right.

    When I saw THOSE things -- and realized I could "compare myself to" THEM -- that did WONDERS for my self-image. I mean, *I* was actually on the level of freakin' Cindy and Marilyn, ffs!
    You get me.

    Even though constant comparisons to others CAN be pernicious, I don't think it's realistic -- or healthy even -- to try to tell anyone to STOP making such comparisons.
    After all, it's just human nature -- we're competitive with our perceived competition... as well as anyone who's just in our general "league" even if no competition is perceived.
    I mean... Unless someone is gna go off and do some Into the Wild type of thing -- where they literally don't see other people at all, for months or years -- that just isn't a reasonable prescription. Instead, we have to realize that people ARE GOING to make comparisons -- and we need to try to foster a healthy self-image WITHIN those parameters.
    In other words... Keep comparing yourself to others -- but in a way that makes YOU look just as good as, or even better than, them!

    As a bonus --
    When you start thinking this way... You'll be surprised how many people will agree with you.
    • That's very true. It can be a positive influence. However, unfortunately, many people don't see it the way you do... or until it's a lot later and then it ticks you off. :P

  • YourFutureEx
    I will always regret that I'm not 6'0" and taller than my dad all my life. And I compare myself to videogame characters. They look utterly cool. It'll take a lot of hardwork to look like one but still, I'm short :/

    I don't compare myself to other guys tho (except my dad as I said). Too mature for that shit 😏
  • RainbowFanGirl
    Good take. Yeah. I think I'm ugly as fuck.
    I used to be obese throughout my middle school years. People would tease me and say I was a fat fuck, they would call me a Gorrilla and all this bullshit. I literally wanted to kill myself and die, but I didn't give up and eventually lost all of this weight.

    Now they think I'm bad and wanna get with me. So yeah, people should watch what they say and what they say about people. It can be harmful and can negatively effect that person.
    • For what it's worth kids can be mean. I went through something similar in grade school through middle school. Everyone in my family would tell me I was handsome, but all the kids called me ugly a loser, etc. Unfortunately I believed them. Don't believe your bullies, you are quite good looking :)

    • Very well said. I'm proud of you for never giving up. I, too, know how you felt and feel. You're beautiful, and fuck anyone who thinks otherwise.

    • I went through the same situation, except that I am very skinny and people used to call me so many names that I lost count.

    • Show All
  • bloodmountain1990
    Great take.

    Though I think it'd be best if people quit comparing themselves to other people.

    If you want to fix your appearance whether it's losing weight or anything that's fine, but do it because you want to, not to impress others or because it's expected of you.
    • Unfortunately, it's human nature to compare each other. It's good if it motivates you to do better or realize you're not alone. It's bad if you get a defeatist attitude.

    • True, it's also bad if the person you're looking up to is cocky about it.

    • Humbleness is a good trait to have.

    • Show All
  • YourName123
    a woman's problem created by women, for women. driven by women

    Speaking for most men, while we do prefer thinner women, 99% of us could totally care less about hairstyles, make up, pants, jewelry, etc.

    Even small boobs are perfectly fine with us if they attached to a trim athletic body.

    In other words, we are not very picky but don't expect me to be celebrating your obesity, that is BS. Fat people are less healthy and less attractive, and yes, men too.
  • JSmuve
    I know I look pretty with all my flaws! Fuckin fab-u-lous. Pubes on fleek.

    Nice take! Shouda used my title though.
  • HulkkSmash
    Imperfections is what makes you unique and beautiful.
    • Excellent statement!

    • HulkkSmash

      I just really love all women. As long as theyre not fat. Stoner chicks/sluts are really unattractive too.

    • Haha, so you don't like all women. ;P That's fine, though. Everyone has preferences.

  • SuitAndTie
    Another great take. You're getting pretty good at this eh?
  • ThisDudeHere
    Good thing this doesn't affect me... much...
  • Anonymous
    What is your stance on fake nice people?
    • How does that relate to the Take? ;P Uhhh, they happen?

    • Anonymous

      It suits with the theme of your take. Distorted mirror of perfection in reference to personality.

    • They can be just as society's standards of beauty... or you can take them and turn the negative into a positive as well. You learn how to stay away from those types of people.

  • Anonymous
    Sounds like you have poor me syndrome and indulge in the im a victim culture sweeping western society.
    • I never said this was about me. 😜 It can be seen as someone playing the victim card, but others truly end up with a negative idea of themselves because of situations like I listed above.

    • Anonymous

      see that is what called playing the victin in your own life

    • How is that playing the victim, though? If they're running to everyone and going "Woe is me" and doing nothing about it, then I can see how they're trying to play the victim. They want all the attention and support, fishing for compliments. However, if they just quietly note their flaws, I'm not seeing the victim card coming into play. That's also not to say that they're not doing anything to fix their perceived flaws either.

  • Anonymous
    I am not offended by Amy Shcumer's foul language. Just her stupidity compounded by the fact that people throw money at her for said stupidity. That is what I find offensive. Anyway, women should stop obsessing so much over models. Yes they may look more attractive, but that doesn't automatically mean you aren't attractive. Not to mention guys want women not images!