Many answers are explored in the rest of the article: The all-encompassing image-consciousness of current society; the media's increasingly unrealistic representation of the, particularly female, human body; the exploitation of our deepest insecurities by advertising powers; and modern culture's glorification of unhealthy eating habits.
All of these answers are valid. But there is a simple way to put it. We hate the way we look because we aspire to perfection, while perfection is, and always will be, an impossibility.
The tricky thing about it, is that we know perfection does not exist—Photoshop and plastic surgery exist. "Nobody's perfect," as the old chestnut goes, and yet we still try to attain the unattainable, even people who examine this damaging brand of behaviour on a frequent basis—people like myself.
One frosty Friday morning eight years ago, I decided that I wouldn't eat until the following Monday. When I felt hungry, I would drink water, or maybe juice. But no morsel of food would pass my lips, no matter how hungry I got.
I was 16, and I considered this a trial run. "This will determine if I can become a full-blown anorexic," I told my sister, sipping my first glass of juice of the weekend. "Whether or not I can handle starving myself."
I wanted to starve myself because, at the time, I wanted to lose weight, and since my appetite was already quite measly, I thought the only way to really eat less was to quit eating full-stop.
I succeeded in avoiding food for three days. However, I decided that I could not "handle" self-starvation. Over that weekend, I felt increasingly irritable, dizzy, distracted and depressed. I got used to the growling of my stomach, but the taste of hunger, like a bitter ointment thickly coating the back of my throat, was harder to ignore. By Sunday night, I felt as weak and cold as a corpse, and I tossed and turned for hours in layers of blankets before managing to nod off.
Monday morning, I thanked my lucky stars that I possessed the privelege of food, and I took advantage of it again at once.
But, it never really ends, for any of us. I continue to do painful things in an effort to "fix" aspects of my appearance that I believe are too imperfect, despite knowing that my beliefs about myself are dictated by forces outside myself.
I get bikini waxes. I've had allergic reactions to makeup, and yet I refuse to wear any less. I've considered having dental surgery to remove my second molars (a purported practise of models looking to further sink in their cheeks). I wear shoes that leave my feet blistered and bleeding. As a child, I would pinch a clothespin onto my nose in an attempt to narrow its shape.
Millions of other women do the same, or similar, because we can never be satisfied.
"Nobody's perfect," sure. But these idioms exist as well: "Beauty is pain," and, "Beauty is hard work."
The women who are considered the most beautiful are also often the most fake. It is an unshifting paradigm. Many of this year's Miss Universe Canada contestants look to have had almost as much plastic surgery as the equally gorgeous transsexual participant Jenna Talackova.
Such pageants send the message that a beautiful woman is not born, but created. And this is true. Beauty standards are not natural and innate, but managed and communicated by the superstructures of society, and too often, they are harmful.
As cited in Wiseman's article, 90 per cent of British women feel body-image anxiety. I imagine it's much the same for Canadians. Until we start actually believing that it's okay to have flaws—that because we have the ability to "improve" doesn't necessarily mean that we should try—the number of women hating their bodies will only inflate.