You can’t win society’s game


I don’t have to know your name, your age, your gender, your ethnicity or your background to know you’ve had damaging thoughts that question your worth.

At some point in your life, you’ve probably felt inadequate. I hate to say it, but we’ve all looked at ourselves and wished something was different just so we could fit society’s standards.

That “something” can resemble a physical attribute and/or mental attribute. And unfortunately, the want to fit in can lead us to harm ourselves far more than we ever expected. 

I feel as though most of today’s youth, both women and men, are pressured to be physically “perfect.” And who are we pressured by? The advertising industry.

We are surrounded by pictures of incredibly thin or lean models and then we are told to be like them. We need to eat this brand of cereal, drink this supplement or buy a certain exercise DVD. 

Let’s say a person is teasing a cat with a flashlight. The cat is you. The person holding the flashlight is the marketing industry and the culture of today. The beam of light that you are trying to catch represents the ideals of today’s society. 

It’s literally a game — a game you aren’t meant to win. 

The person shines the flashlight on a wall and you stare intently at the circle on the wall. You begin to jump, trying to catch the flashlight’s beam while the person keeps moving it higher and higher, just out of your reach.

You are never able to reach perfection because the ideals are always just out of reach.

Think about it. If everyone was perfectly happy with their bodies, would there be any health-related products being sold? No. That’s why you are made to feel as though you aren’t perfect. You are led to believe you aren’t perfect so you become a consumer.

This belief can lead to mental illnesses and can cause you to harm yourself. It causes you to buy diet pills or shakes and starve yourself. It causes you to eat an unhealthy amount of supplements. It causes you to slowly kill yourself.  

There is no such thing as perfection. It’s an imaginary ideal. And guess what? The ideal will continue changing so that you can never reach it. You aren’t meant to win this game.

I know that it takes a lot of healing and work to overcome feelings of inadequacy, but realizing that today’s society and the marketing industry is playing a game with you is an important step. In order to get closer to accepting yourself, you must first realize that you will never be perfect in the eye of today’s culture.

To the marketing industry, you are simply a number. You are a demographic. To your friends and family, you are beloved. And although you may not be “perfect,” you are more than a helpless cat chasing a beam of light. 

You are more than society makes you believe you are. You are more than “perfect.”

Rachel Astleford is a nutrition & dietetics major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].