Perspectives

Society’s Unhealthy Obsession with Beauty

Beauty

What is Beauty?

“Beauty is not about having a pretty face. It is about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart, and the most importantly a beautiful soul”- Dr. Kesiraju Ram Prasad

It is true. Unfortunately, we lived in a highly influential world. We are barraged with constant media streaming that influences our lifestyle. Our fascination by models, movies, film stars and their glamorous life never ceases. We grow up with a belief that outer beauty and physical appearance are the most important factors  in live.

Today’s Women

Nowadays, people of all ages are swept by the desire to look perfect. This is especially true for women. A woman aspires to be a  perfect beauty with clear skin, ideal figure, and nice hair to feel confident in the modern society.

We are in pursuit of perfection. Of course, there is nothing wrong with grooming and taking pleasure in our appearance and presentation. But when this “addiction to perfection” affects our society, the results are definitely not welcoming.

Some True Stories

Here are some examples from our so-called “modern society”,

Sonya, aged 28 years, is suffering from the obesity. She tried various diet-exercise (mostly short term) programs for weight loss and has taken many supplements to help her lose weight. Sonya wants to be slim and trim at any cost.But nothing has worked permanently.

The main reasons for her obsession are “she cannot wear her western dresses”, “most of her friends have a perfect figure” and “she does not like to hear nasty comments because the way she looks”. She is aware that as an obese person she is at high risk for developing various metabolic and cardiovascular disorders. She also knows that her crash dieting and supplements may result in side-effects. But in spite of all that she does not like to talk about any health-related issues. She just wants a perfect figure at any cost

Rema has pimples and scars on her face. And she is extremely anxious about the marks. She takes all sorts of anti-acne treatment (antibiotics, retinoids, laser surfacing and microdermabrasion) religiously. She wants a clear and flawless complexion immediately. These procedures are quite expensive and may cause adverse effects too. She knows it but does not care about it. Her dream is to have perfect complexion.

Pooja suffers from low self esteem. This is because of her short stature. She is ready to do anything to look taller. From wearing high heels (that are clearly uncomfortable) to taking height-increasing supplements.Anything that can make her tall, fascinates her.

It is clear from above examples that for most women (including you and me) cosmetic appearance is of great importance in our everyday life.  This behaviour is not only related to our looks but it also has a connection with our mental and psychological wellbeing too.

Woman with good looks and perfect figure have higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem, while a “girl or woman to next door “often suffers from a low self-confidence and depression.  This mental status often leads to destructive behaviour, psychological and personality disorders, even suicidal thoughts.

The consequences of “addiction to perfection”

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

A mental condition that is associated with an obsession to cosmetic tweaking. Sufferers tend to obsess on a perceived physical flaw that does not exist.

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and other eating disorders

Disorders are characterised by irregular eating habits and severe distress about body weight or shape. It is responsible for the highest fatality rate of any mental illness.

Depression, anxiety and other psychological disorder

The most disturbing consequence of this pattern is that unconsciously we put beauty above our health. Good physical appearance is often interlinked with a good health, but most of the time we forget that connection and concentrate only on the outer beauty. We tend to adopt short-term (some are even harmful) measures to seek perfection.

Who is responsible?

Our society places a great emphasis on ideals of cosmetic and physical appearance. Our customs and culture also place a lot of weight on the perfect outer appearance rather than an inner beauty and personality. And for women, this social pressure increases many times. Marriage, social respect, post-baby and jobs require a women to look perfect.

This results in women feeling stigmatised and humiliated by the society. Just because the way they look. And under the influence of this social insecurity, they take some risky and harmful decisions.

Being a physician and mom of two lovely daughters, I am not against grooming. I will also not deny the fact that physical and cosmetic appearance occupies a valuable space in our lives today. But I have a few questions?

Why are we so obsessed with “being beautiful” and why do we forget it is OK to be OK looking?

Why do we not understand the thin line between wanting to look good and being obsessed with the perfection? And why cannot we believe that inner beauty is much more important than just cosmetic one?

Practically, I know that we cannot change the perception and mentality of our society overnight. But I would like to share some of the suggestions to change this custom.

Suggestions to bring in Change

 First Health then Beauty

I believe that every woman should have a basic mantra in life. Every woman should give first importance to her health and before focussing on our physical and outer beauty.  The greatest advantage of this mentality is that our efforts for getting a solution for any cosmetic problems would be more realistic and we would seek a long-lasting and harmless solution.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes,

  • Eat healthy
  • Regular exercise
  • Drink enough water
  • Early to bed and early to rise
  • Spend some quality time alone
  • Give enough attention on mental and spiritual state of mind
  • Avoid unnecessary worries
  • Regular health check-ups

These are some essential lifestyle choices that will give not only make you healthy, but will also solve many cosmetic problems like weight gain, skin imperfection etc.. It is an optimistic and positive approach to solving many health and cosmetic problems.

Believe in the You – A Creation of God

It may sound a little philosophical, but we all should try to admire and love life. We should believe that we are all creations of God. Some people are tall, some have dark skin tone  and others have blue eyes. Instead of placing a great emphasis on physical appearance, we should try to focus on our duties and responsibilities.

It is all about the Attitude

Trying to focus on your overall personality development is the best way to combat depression and inferiority complex. It’s all about positive attitude. A smart make-up, appropriate clothing,  well-organised appearance and a beautiful smile – is it enough to boost your self-esteem? Also by doing that, we would be able to get social respect and recognition in a most positive and appreciating way.

Avoid Short-cuts and Short-term Treatment Options

“Lose 5 kgs in just one week” or “Clear your pimples within 5 days”. These marketing strategies may sound appealing, but actually these statements are marketing and publicity stunts only. There are millions of beauty and fitness products in the market today. Do proper research and product evaluation before investing in a product/treatment. This will save you from getting trapped in marketing stunts.

Medical Consultation before Starting any Fitness and Beauty Regimen

Each individual is different and unique and so is their body. A beauty product or fitness regimen that benefitted your neighbour or friend, may not be equally effective for you. It may cause an allergic reaction or severe side effects. So, it is always advisable to take a medical advice before starting any new fitness and beauty regimen.

Be a “Role model”

I am sure that we all have noticed that our children imitate what we do more than they follow our words. We often set a wrong example by giving supreme importance to our looks. Children will also inevitably repeat the same. This would become a never-ending trend in our society. So, try to be a role model. Demonstrate confident behaviour and do not afraid to be unique. Have humility and willingness to change this social evil from our society.

Of course, we need to believe that beauty is the opposite of perfection. It is about confidence, charisma and character. It is all about being comfortable in your skin. Because, beauty does not last forever but a beautiful personality does.

Along with this, there is a strong need in our society to develop emotional intelligence and psychological maturity. Have you experienced this? What else can we do to change our society? What are your thoughts? Please share!

Featured Image Source: Flickr

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