We’re living in a world where celebrities become famous by being physically beautiful and popular print and digital media outlets tell us exactly what haircuts to get and makeup to wear to resemble your beauty idols. As a child, one almost always comes to a time when you look around at your surroundings and contemplate where you measure up. There seems to be a correlation between popularity and good looks most of the time, as much as we want to deny it. This tells our children that in order to be liked, accepted and even envied by your peers you need to possess great physical beauty.
We’re taught early on that physical appearance is very important and that as long as we’re physically attractive, we’ll always have options in life. Intelligence is often treated as a bonus add-on to being beautiful… as if being good looking is enough, but having intelligence is a bonus.
I’ll give a prime example of this that doesn’t show me in the most favourable light: I have a prepared compliment that I give out to girls/women when they cry. I know, that’s quite insincere of me, but the success rate is extremely high. I look the girl in the face and I tell her she’s too pretty to cry. Typically, after the recipient hears this, her tears subside. and her eyes widen slightly as she looks back at me. The ending to this is typically a swipe of her finger to cast the tears aside and almost 98 percent of the time, she will look at me and say “Really? You think so?”
I give this example because it’s how we’re raised. When you’re growing up and in school with your peers, you’re told that beauty is the best quality you could ever possibly possess. We place beauty above all else and we have to realize that this not only corrupts our thinking and leads to an ill-perceived view of the world around us… it also prohibits us from concentrating and fully utilizing our other qualities and talents.
The influence of beauty is nothing new. Many readers of this article can agree that they had mothers who were brought up to put their best face forward and of course taught them to do the same. There are common expressions even today that reference getting over something by putting on your lipstick and high heels. I’m not sure this pressure is exactly the same when it comes to men as they’re not taught to throw on their best bow tie and blazer to walk down the street after a harsh breakup or disheartening event. Men are chastised in their own ways—probably to make a high income and attract their future mate with their wealth and assets. It doesn’t mean that this is easier for men, because it certainly is not. It’s just another set of pressures to try to overcome.
I want to believe that the world is changing its view of what it means to be beautiful and that this generation is raising their children to be confident and to think of their physical looks as merely one part of what they love about themselves instead of being the greater chunk. I think we should be able to look back at the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century and laugh over how women were made to feel because of beauty pressures. We should be told that conquering the world isn’t usually going to happen by buying that $40 tube of lipstick or adding a few coloured streaks in our hair. Losing 20 pounds probably won’t help us pass our LSATs or get voted valedictorian. Sure, these things can help our inner confidence and deceive us into thinking that the world around us is going to change, but unless we actually go ahead and put the physical work towards our goals and using our minds for achieving what we want out of life, our blemish-free face probably isn’t going to get out there and get it for us.
Read more on this topic in SELF LOVE: Understanding true beauty>>
image: David Niblack