Ayn Rand and the Fight Against Beauty Ideals

Stop blaming society and the media for your low self-esteem dammit.

I love Ayn Rand because she speaks at length about self-esteem. The characters in her books are under constant assault; having their choices second guessed and being belittled because of their differences. Any other person may have crumbled under the scrutiny that Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart faced, but Rand’s characters have something that few people in real life do: a self sufficient ego.

Her characters are self-assuared in their decisions, and how they go through life. In The Fountainhead, many of the female characters didn’t find Howard attractive. Something about his overall demeanor repulsed women. Yet he doesn’t cry himself to sleep over it. In fact, he seems to pay very little attention to other’s opinions about him.

This is the approach I take in regards to women, media and self-esteem.

Who is to blame for your low self-esteem and self-hating beliefs?


By resting all of the blame on an abstract entity like “society”, you become prey to the Victim archetype. It’s societiy’s fault that I am miserable and society will pay for this infraction! 

But -that’s a half truth. The full truth is that you allow these messages into your subconscious. You accept these illusions and fantasies as reality, instead of acknowledging them for what they are. Falsehoods.

But instead of re-directing the attention inward, and re-shifting the focus, the obsession is directed even more powerfully to destroying the illusion. The things we see daily are merely projections- our own thoughts, feelings and ideas for others to consume. The magazines and billboard ads are projections of the world their creators live in.

We live in a world where oppression, violence and privilege run rampant. Many of the individuals who enforce these illusions are products of this: white males who hold sexist ideas. Women who buy into patriarchy while becoming female chauvinist pigs.

Magazine covers, billboard ads, commercials – all of these are a reflection of deeply held beliefs in our culture. By attempting to destroy these images, you’re attempting to force these illusions to change their opinions about you instead of simply re-adjusting your opinion about the illusion.

For example: whenever I see a magazine cover I dislike, I simply ignore it. I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about it, or buy it to show to my friends so we can complain about it together. When conversations come up about body bashing, I don’t participate or give in to their self-destruction. I keep a reminder that the people in TV aren’t reflections of who I am or what I believe. And that I will only support media that aligns to my own personal belief system about myself and the world.


So instead of trying to fight an enemy that has no name, why not take it upon yourself to be more like Randian characters; self-sufficient ego bearers. Rejecting fantasies – not through dismantlement, but by shifting our own individual relationship to ourselves. For as long as women, men and children continue to have low self-esteem (an ideology that is passed down from generation to generation), nothing will abate the insatiable thirst for self-hatred.

You must take your battle within, first by looking in the mirror. And so the image in the mirror will change.

The battle for self-esteem can only be won within, not outside of ourselves.

It starts here – with you. 


What about you? What personal opinions and ideas would you need to change to make yourself less susceptible to external pressure to look a specific way?

7 thoughts on “Ayn Rand and the Fight Against Beauty Ideals

  1. I feel I could have written this! I like your mind.
    I find it sad when women, especially black women, take it to heart when the media or some other external entity does their usual bashing. The black women cry, “When will we get respect? I just want to be seen as human!” to that, my stance is- do you really have to give them the power over your emotions? If you know YOU’RE wonderful, outside distractions serve as a joke because your self-worth comes from WITHIN, not society. The USA can never really be 100% home and welcoming to blacks, so who cares what some ignorant other thinks?

    • Oh thanks! I’m glad you stopped by! :]

      *nods* Definitely. I was walking through the mall today and I was looking at the pictures of the Victoria Secret models. I don’t look like them. According to popular thought, even THEY don’t look like them. But I didn’t make it personal. It’s an adverting gimmick; it’s easy to feel sucked in but those models are a total fantasy. They’re not real. Or rather, I shouldn’t give them so much power over me. A big part of the problem is that people want mainstream society to reflect them, to accept them – that’s not really going to happen. There will always be people who dislike you, or won’t think you’re good/pretty enough for whatever reason. But honestly, you can’t really pay those people any mind when it comes to self-esteem. You have to be in charge of your own thoughts about yourself; not let someone else do it for you.

      Thanks for your comment! :3

  2. It is more than a good thought – it’s an excellent piece. I have too listened to the bellyaching about how fat-ist (for example) magazines are and how they give women feelings of negativity towards their bodies and yet the same women go out week after week and buy those magazines.

    It does require mindfulness, intelligence, self reliance and quiet time however to suss these quite basic notions out and that is something many folks don’t always go for these days.

    • Oh thank you!

      Yes – it’s a tendency I don’t really understand. If something (like a magazine) makes you uncomfortable, why continue to buy it? I remember seeing a youtube video of this guy and his female friend carrying around a women’s magazine and asking people if this is what a real woman looked like, or something along those lines. Talk about picking at a scab. The images on/in magazines exist because people purchase them. I’m a strong supporter of boycotting and reusing your money for other things that cater to what you believe in instead of trying to force these giant industries to start changing their policies over night. This is also part of the reason why I loathe modeling so much. I feel as if modeling places a premium on physical beauty and it’s part of the larger culture that insists that physical beauty is more important than anything else.

  3. Pingback: Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Kinda. « parisianfeline

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