We are all a little more obsessed with our appearance than we would maybe like to admit but this isn’t down to pure vanity. Vanity is about narcissism, conceitedness and excessive pride in one’s appearance.
Being concerned and slightly obsessed with how we look certainly has its advantages. In fact, studies have shown that attractive people have distinct advantages in our society. Some research has shown that attractive children are more popular, both with their classmates and their teachers, while other projects reported that good-looking applicants stood a better chance of getting a job. The ‘bias on beauty’ seems to occur in almost all social situations, with many experiments showing that we react more favourably ourselves to physically attractive people. With that in mind it’s no wonder that we want to join the attractive elite.
So many people are quick to blame the media for these unrealistic expectations that we set ourselves and while I don’t believe they are innocent, I do wonder if some of it is down to our deep-rooted idea that ‘beautiful is good’; an irrational stereotype which may stem from old fairytales and the like where the good fairy or princess is always beautiful, while the wicked witch is usually ugly.
Don’t get me wrong, the media could do more. Seeing billboards, TV programmes and magazines portraying super thin, unobtainable beautiful women constantly is bound to make some of us more obsessive than others. A UK study found the current media ideal of thinness for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population. 5% – wow! Does that mean that the other 95% are depressed that they can’t achieve this? How sad that so many of us are so worried about our appearance.
Don’t be a hater though. Don’t hate those more attractive than you as they don’t have it easy either. Many attractive people are under a lot of pressure to maintain their appearance. If they go out looking less than fabulous, people will pick up on it and ask them what’s wrong? Also, studies show that attractive people often have very low self esteem and don’t trust the praise of their work or talents, believing instead that any positive evaluations must have be influenced by their appearance alone.
It can be a lonely world regardless of whether you deem yourself as ‘beautiful’ or not. We are all beautiful; we all have something that someone else would prefer, hair, eyes, lips even hips. We all crave each other’s best bits; it’s the way we are programmed. It’s human nature.
Back in 1917, the physically perfect woman in society was about 5ft 4in tall and weighed nearly 10 stone. Just 25 years ago, top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman, but now these symbols weigh 23% less.
In our own bathrooms I think it’s okay to wish our eyebrows were better shaped, that our noses were smaller and that our legs were nicely tanned but I feel that the more depressing problem in society at the moment is that women feel the need to put each other down. It happens so much, especially online where women are feeling the need to rip shreds off of each other because of how they look. I saw something this week about a lady who was 18st and had been running in the park to try and lose weight and she received abuse from other women in the park calling her ‘fat’.
Why can’t we celebrate our individuality and stop putting each other down. If someone wants to lose weight – good on them for getting out and doing it. If someone doesn’t – that’s ok too, if they are happy why does it matter what anyone else thinks?
I challenge you to look in the mirror today and really LOOK… look at your assets and your good points first… ignore the bad. If we all just accentuated our good bits, knowing that others would crave those bits of us, just as we would parts of them… well, wouldn’t we all be a little happier.