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Inexorable Pressure to Appear Young and Beautiful: A Social Malady!
Dr. Pragya Khanna4/19/2019 9:09:44 PM
Considering we live in a society which has become too much obsessed with beauty and outwardly appearance, looking good starts early.
The ugly duckling phase is completely vanished. We live in an age of hyper aesthetic tautness where the entire society is anxious to look good. From the cradle to crèche and from playschool to workplace, beauty and looks matter. Today, we find young parents are very conscious of their external appearance & looks and this impacts kids far more than any form of media. Though, media, too, has a role to play in making kids aware of their appearance. Kids and youngsters are getting swayed by the airbrushed beauties and false hairdos in fashion magazines. It seems very challenging to convince the young minds that though it is nice to look presentable, it is actually your personality and not makeup that makes you endearing.
Unfortunately, fashion, plethora of chemical based beauty products, new styles and trends are being followed blindly. Your popularity, nowadays, is gauged by the number of likes your profile picture elicits. An attractive face and a slim body are said to determine your fame in the society and obsessed people seem to leave no stone unturned to achieve these false standards even if it means starving yourself up to look gaunt enough or using various apps that offer to transform your picture to look like that of a celebrity. Furthermore, with the advent of social networking websites, we are prompted to post pictures frequently to project a sense of well-being.
Women all over the world have this constant urge to look pretty, thin, glowing, healthy but more than anything, what makes them happy is when somebody tells them that they don't look their age. So, why is it that women covet looking younger more than looking thinner or prettier? And why is there so much ruckus around this whole looking younger idea? Where does it take us?
The extent and influence of the anti-aging research-industry is massive. It extends to concerns with immortality and an end to aging altogether. Promises range from "turn back the clock," "look up to 10 years younger" to "youthful skin in 5 minutes" or "30 seconds" even. Websites that explain their technology accompanied by "it changed my life" testimonials are now on the rise. We are bombarded with products to use from our teen years itself and the side-effects debate seems to have been overpowered.
We live in a society where women are compared to each other based on their looks and youthfulness, be it in the family, workplace or in the friends circle (for e.g. sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law, colleagues…..) and so each one wants to look better and younger than others.
The marriage market is yet another place where the significance of women's beauty is vital. To look dark or old is the worst sin here! Your 'value' is determined by your external charm. As a wife or daughter-in-law if you are not attractive, you would have to "overdo" things to make the "deal" worthwhile, so the lack of beauty is "forgiven". Additionally, career-oriented women today are marrying late, thereby, increasing the pressure to look young all the more.
Although, it is true that celebrating one's self is not bad but the definition of 'self' matters a great deal. External beauty does help in giving a feel of goodness about life but is far from being the summum bonum of one's life purpose. Confidence can be developed only through the meaningful work that a woman engages in and in exploring her self-worth.
As women we like to make sure our hair, our make-up, our clothes are perfect during every virtual and physical social appearance. This pressure is doing more harm to our self-esteem, than good. We are a generation of eternally unhappy and dissatisfied people, when it comes to aesthetics. We want a zero body fat figure, a perfect chin and nose, along with flawless hair and impeccable clothes. Yes! Photoshop apps are making us virtually perfect. Thus, we are unhappy with our looks in reality.
This dissatisfaction seems misplaced because the comparison is with photoshopped images. Earlier it was restricted to film stars and models on magazine covers. Now it has entered our lives via photoshop apps. We can remove dark spots, wrinkles and crow lines. We can become two shades fairer, and can also trim our figure, enhance our eyes, make them look brighter. We can achieve perfection with not a single strand of hair out of its place. No bulging tummies or flabby arms and thighs, so on and so forth… No wonder, many of us dread to make public appearances these days. The world will see our failed attempts to hide our body fat. It will see how despite spending thousands of rupees on body massages and clean up, our face still isn't perfect.
This obsession with plasticity makes us resent our natural looks. We look into the mirror and we can always find something which can be improved. Which is where the industry of aesthetics comes in. There is a solution for our every grievance, both non-invasive and invasive. We spend a fortune on creams, salons and beauty products. The aesthetic industry plays on our insecurities in matters like dark skin and ageing and we play into its hands like puppies.
All this really takes ugly turns several times. You must have heard the News of a young girl who committed suicide over Facebook comments, which has raked up the issue of how social networking is the new peer pressure.
Pressure to project a 'perfect' life online is the current trend being followed by the young and old everywhere. This is affecting the wellbeing of many youngsters. One in three young women feel under pressure to present themselves as having a "perfect" life on social media, a survey has found. Among the 650 individuals of 18 to 25 years who took part in the survey:
l 36% said they were made to feel the most important thing about them was their looks
l 38% felt they were not pretty enough
l 35% agreed women were judged more on their appearance than their abilities
l 23% felt they needed to be perfect
As uncomfortable as it may be, we are under the microscope every day. Our employees, our colleagues, and our patrons judge us by how we look, how we dress, our table manners, our grooming, and sometimes even how we do our job.
All this is taking the society in an altogether different direction than it should be heading into with so much of talent, skill and enterprise around. As much importance as they give to the external beauty, we need to make our youngsters realise that the inner beauty has more attributes attached to it. The world moves on the shoulders of those powerful people, who take decisions, make inventions and discoveries, are efficient leaders; physical features are less essential than such traits as charisma, intelligence, confidence and sense of purpose, which are elements of inner beauty.
Internal human beauty is presented naturally and is unpretentious. Imagine it coming from a person when he/she smiles, from the manner of speech and the way he/she treats others with kindness, compassion and tenderness, you understand how much beautiful this person is, and definitely you will prefer inner beauty to external. A person with beautiful soul shines brighter than one with beautiful face with emptiness inside. In such a way, inner beauty of a person is much more important than superficial external beauty, and also we can keep it for the whole life.
Instead of giving preference only to how we look with our skin colour, shape of our eyebrows, eyes, nose or lips, we should also focus our attention to improving our personality in terms of inner beauty - which is the real beauty - beauty of the heart that shines within us. It provides us perceptual experience and pleasure and satisfaction inspiring us to perform good deeds and actions.
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."
—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
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