What The Hell Is A 'Body Goal?' | Emily Bashforth

What The Hell Is A 'Body Goal?'


"OMG YOU'RE SO BODY GOALS!!!" is a phrase I see splashed across every social media comments section constantly and I've had enough of it. Everywhere I look, I see people referring to other people's bodies as "goals." People comment it on Instagram, YouTube, they Tweet it, Facebook it and it has reached the point where we now verbally use the term in real life and, in all honesty, it makes me feel a little bit ill.
The phrase "body goals" is used in a complimentary manner when someone admires the appearance of someone else. For example, Kendall Jenner may post a picture wearing a swimsuit on Instagram and teenage girls may leave a comment telling her she is "body goals" because they aspire to have a figure like hers. Likewise, she may post a snap of herself wearing skinny jeans and a sweater and fans will still tell her that her body is "goals." Basically, it's become a new way of flattering someone and making them feel good about their appearance because, if you tell someone you wish you looked like them, chances are, they're going to appreciate it.

People can use whatever slang they want online, (or in real life) and I would never be the one to tell people what they can and cannot say, especially if they're praising someone and making them feel better about themselves. However, I can't help but think that the term "body goals" has become so damaging.
Firstly, are people not more than their bodies? I hate to go all Grandma on you but if the first thing we instinctively think when we see a photo of someone is to compliment their body, are we not just objectifying them and implying that their appearance is the only thing we are drawn to? I understand that, in a photo of someone wearing a bikini, it is hard to notice anything other than their physique but would "you look beautiful" or "gorgeous photo" not be enough? Why must we go as far as to select individual body parts, for example "OMG LEG GOALS!!" because is a person not more than what they look like? There's a real person behind every picture and I know I'd rather have a personality compliment than a physical appearance one, but that's just me. Of course, being nice to people is brilliant and we should all aim to throw compliments around every opportunity we get but I believe there is a way to compliment someone and by, effectively, saying "your body is my goal" isn't one of them.

Furthermore, by telling people they are our 'body icons,' are we not placing a ton of unnecessary pressure upon them? If we put people on a pedestal like that, does that not cause them to become obsessed with their appearance and what other people think of them? I don't know how Instagram famous models do it. If  I had 100,000 people commenting that they wanted to look like me, I'd feel an extraordinary amount of pressure to always look exactly the same as I did in my photos. I'd be pulling myself apart as I stared in the mirror, be extremely conscious of gaining weight or letting myself go. I'd become fixated with the idea of constantly looking my best because, if other people want to look like me, I have a reputation to maintain. I mustn't let my guard slip because what would they think of me? Personally, I see labelling somebody as "body goals" can have just as much of a negative impact as it can a positive one, on the recipient. By telling them that they are your 'goal,' in life, you're placing them at the top of the hierarchy, allowing them to believe they are the definition of perfection and a higher form of beauty does not exist, therefore, the only way for them to go would be down. You're telling them they are the peak of society and, if we don't look like them, there's no hope for us. But nobody is perfect and we shouldn't be placing so much pressure on people to be perfect, especially in a society which is already so critical and judgemental.

Just in the way that "body goals" can be damaging to the person who possesses said body goals, the term can be damaging to everyone else, people just like me and you. Personally, if I see a thin girl referred to as "body goals" online, my self esteem suffers because I don't look like her and the chances of me ever looking like her are slim but my mind automatically wants me to do whatever it takes to look like her. People, youngsters especially, are already under a lot of pressure. Boys and girls both feel the need to look a certain way in order to be accepted so, by placing certain people at the top, we're only creating more unrealistic ideals for them to aspire to. Not every girl is going to have a thigh gap and a teeny waist and not every boy is going to have toned arms and a six pack, that's just how the world works, but if we're indirectly stating online that the only way to be seen as attractive is to occupy certain physical attributes, we are doing so much harm, don't you think? People are working themselves to the bone in order to attempt to maintain an unrealistic body image because oh if an A List celebrity has that body, it must be the one we all have to have, and that isn't right. We should be promoting self love and confidence and encouraging people to accept their body for what it is, not subtly encouraging them to look like everyone else for the sake of a compliment or two.  Seeing other people's appearance praised so much on social media has done a lot of damage to my own mindset and I know it has to a lot of other peoples so why don't we just nip it in the bud now and say, enough is enough. There's no such a thing as the 'ultimate body goal' and we can all just look however the hell we want.

The whole concept of body goals is so painfully vague, too. Emily Ratajkowski is labelled as "body goals" but so is Kim Kardashian. Curvy women are labelled as body goals, as are slim women. Boys with gym honed frames are body goals but so are the thinner ones. People with surgically enhanced assets are referred to as body goals but so are those who are 'au naturale.' So what actually IS body goals? What is the one body we should all be aspiring to? Because I have no idea. As a young girl, I am already perplexed enough when it comes to figuring out what society wants me to be. Every day, I wonder whether or not I'm saying, doing or thinking the right things in order to fit in so I don't need people online and in the media telling me I must look a certain way on top of that. Young people are impressionable, in particular, so by one minute saying someone is"body goals" then by saying the next that someone who looks totally different from them is also "body goals," are you not adding to the confusion that we already face? People just haven't got a clue what they're supposed to look because, no matter what their appearance is, its scrutinised. Why cant people just look like themselves rather than the girls and guys they see on billboards? Why does there always have to be something to aspire to? Can we all just not appreciate each others beauty without it having an impact on our own? I don't know about you, but I am tired of social media having such a detrimental impact on the way I live my life. I'm tired of strangers I'll never meet deciding whether or not I each that extra cookie. I'm tired of Twitter and Instagram comments determining how I feel about the way I look. By referring to so many different body types as "body goals" we're only perpetuating the idea that, no matter what you look like, there will always be someone who looks better than you. We're distorting people's perceptions of themselves and inflicting mental and emotional suffering upon them. Really, there is no such thing as a body goal, not in my eyes.
Also, we're feeding advertisers and companies. We're playing into the palm of their hands by saying that only people who look a certain way are worthy of being deemed as "body goals." We all complain  that there's a lack of diversity in magazines and advertisements but we are giving the creators of said adverts what they want. They see people admiring thin girls on social media so they use thin girls in their campaigns. We must put our foot down and tell them we don't all aspire to look like these people and we are all worthy of adoration for our appearance.

Finally, allow me to end this by saying that I really DO NOT CARE about who other people think are "body goals" or not and it drains me a little. Like, yeah, so what, you think Zac Efron or Selena Gomez is body goals, big deal? Part of me just wants to tell people to get on with their own lives and quit focusing so heavily on what other people look like but, of course, I would never do that.

As previously mentioned, its great to flatter people. Telling people they look good is sure to do that but I hate how, as a society, we seemed to have reach a point where compliments about our physical appearance are regarded so highly. I hate how we appreciate compliments about our figure more than our heart or our personality because, at the end of the day, people see your body before they know anything else about you. We have become so conscious of how we look, generally, and I would put that, partly, down to social media and the fact that certain people are put on a pedestal and referred to as "the ultimate goal." Then, if a person with less followers than someone as well-known as Gigi Hadid posts a snap and doesn't get any "body goals" compliments, they're likely to look down on themselves and compare their appearance to that of others'. Whether I'm making much sense, I have no idea, all I do know is that I'm sick of people using "body goals" as if its the best compliment in the world and I've had enough of young people hating how they look, just because they don't look like someone else. I'm also tired of the pressure we are all under, to look perfect 24/7 and to maintain a perfect body. We are all human beings who have so much more to offer than what we look like. I don't want to live in a world where people are ashamed of what they look like just because they don't conform to stereotypes or fit in the cookie cutter social media has created for them. Honestly, just do you. Look however the heck you want to look and never allow anyone to make you feel subservient or even the tiniest bit ugly. You look great and I don't need to see you to know that for a fact. It is so easy to get caught up in the idea of being slim or tall or having perfect curves or perfect abs...but don't let it consume you. "Body goals" just isn't a thing, not really. We are all body goals in our own way and we should all aim to be our own body goals. We all deserve to look in the mirror and think, 'yeah, I'm goals.' The whole "body goals" thing is so frustrating to me because, honestly, I don't want to look like anyone else! I WANT TO LOOK LIKE ME! And I want to feel okay with the fact that I look like me..but I don't and I know you may not do either, which makes me so sad. But you don't need to look like someone else in order to be loved, accepted and to succeed in life because a body is just a shell for the person you are inside, which matters so much more. I've used the term "body goals" myself when I was younger and before I really realised how much of an impact it was having on me but I vow to never use it again in a bid to preserve my own sanity and that of the people I'm saying it to.

Tell people they look good and boost their confidence. Praise the way they've styled their outfit or how hard they've been working at the gym or tell them that their legs look great in those shorts but don't put them on a pedestal, please. I don't want future generations growing up in a world where the only thing they're concerned with is their appearance and I don't want my children suffering in order to maintain a body image which just isn't realistic because everyone is built differently and everyone is beautiful because of it.

Let me know your opinions on "body goals." <3

Love, Emily :) xx

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