Beauty isn’t all that matters…it really isn’t.
Elle. Vogue. Harper’s Bazaar. What is it exactly that we see when we browse through the glossy pages of a new magazine? I’ll tell you what:
The illusion of perfection, and the fabulous lives of those taller, skinnier and prettier than you. And how seldom do we consciously consider that the teenage girl who advertises the newest fragrance for Michael Kors or Prada doesn’t necessarily look like that every day. She is in fact, in most cases, a genetically blessed 16-year-old who, for the two days prior to her photo shoot, starved herself on the “one orange a day and plenty of water” diet. Yes ladies, this is actually a “diet” in the modeling world.
Yet we as mere mortals somehow fail to acknowledge this insanity. Sure, we’re all biologically programmed to admire youth, health, and symmetry, yet we seem to be happy to turn a blind eye to the often insane methods and lengths that young women (and men) will go through to become beautiful. And more often than not we are successfully blinded by the message that these companies want us to believe:
“You may just be a ‘plain Jane’, but a pair of Louboutins from our Spring/Summer 2017 collection will make you climb your social ladder and make you stand out from the crowd, enabling you to achieve things you never imagined were possible before.”
But why stop there? Perhaps a dress from Valentino? And, of course, you will “need” a designer clutch to go with it. Oh, and that expensive necklace? You’ll “need” that, too. Don’t forget you’ll also “need” to get your makeup and hair done, and you “must” have those nail and eyelash extensions, too. Semi-permanent eyebrow tattoos are a “necessity” as well. Moving further through the proverbial beauty scale, your lips could definitely do with a bit of filler. And if you’re going to do that, you should seriously consider a bit of Botox to cover what you’re pretty sure are laugh lines on your forehead. Looking at your nose, it could definitely be a tad straighter and perhaps cheek implants would really shape your face perfectly. Seriously, how could you justify NOT doing this? You owe it to yourself.
As of today, the cosmetic surgery industry is worth just under $27 billion dollars annually, with predicted steady growth over the next decade with South Korea, Greece, and Italy boasting the highest number of procedures per capita. The most popular procedures are breast augmentation, liposuction, and rhinoplasty.
If that wasn’t startling enough, the fashion industry is valued at an astonishing $3 trillion dollars (no, that’s not a typo!), which accounts for 2% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
All in the name of beauty.
So where do we stop? And most importantly, why do we even get sucked into it in the first place? Is it the everlasting pursuit of happiness? Advertising agencies will have you believe that if you are beautiful, then you will be happy and successful. While the majority of those who undergo plastic surgery and buy expensive designer fashion and accessories claim that they are only doing it for themselves and nobody else. Sadly, I don’t think a $5,000 dollar designer handbag would be of any help if the owner found herself marooned on an uninhabited island…
In truth, though, it’s the power of media and some very, very clever advertising that essentially brainwashes us to believe that the more beautiful you might be, the easier your life will become. Oh, how wrong this message really is. And as I so boldly stated earlier, it is nothing but an illusion. So, while there are undeniable advantages of being exceptionally good looking, there are some startling downsides that no one really ever seems to talk about.
Fake friends, fake glory, and a fake love life. What did you expect? After all, a fake life would go well with your fake eyelashes and fake lips, right?
I’ll tell you something I was told by my utterly gorgeous, model-like friend: Probably the most bewildering aspect of being beautiful is loneliness. True loneliness. I tell you, I definitely did not see that coming. Yet while there is a certain halo effect that surrounds the rich, famous, and good looking, my friend explained to me that it is sometimes incredibly hard to determine whether the people around you—your friends, colleagues and especially lovers—actually have your best interests at heart. Or are they perhaps only a part of your life because of your beauty?
Making genuine friends can be a daunting task. Just think about it. Beautiful women are constantly the subject of jealousy from others. In reality, women generally tend to measure themselves against each others by their looks rather than their achievements or accomplishments. And this can be truly emotionally draining. This may explain why so many fashion models end up suffering from depression as well as having an inclination toward severe self-judgment, drug abuse, and self-harm. No one is perfect, yet when beauty becomes “want it all and be it all” even the tiniest blemish or a kilo gained can ruin your day and shake you to the core.
Let’s now consider that promotion you’ve been working towards for years shall we? Contrary to popular belief, a pretty face and model like features might in fact cause you to stumble and fall just shy of the “finish line.” Attractive women are often overlooked for senior positions simply because they are taken less seriously and are subjectively judged as shallow and not as powerful. What’s more, getting a job in the first place can be a herculean task. Let’s say, for example, the person interviewing you will find you more attractive than them—you might be rejected purely because of the implied threat you pose to the established group of potential future colleagues. No one wants a Barbie look-a-like to step in and mess up the current microclimate of office politics. Beauty is almost certainly intimidating in the workforce. I won’t even touch on the potential for unwanted advances from the opposite sex, whether they are above or below you on the corporate ladder.
Moving on to possibly the most overlooked and probably most annoying or frustrating aspect: your love life. Dating can be exhausting and unrewarding, as you are seen as a prize, something to be checked off some douche bag’s to-do list. Big bang, thanks for coming, next please! It isn’t all that glorious. In fact, numerous research studies have confirmed that being above average-looking makes you less successful in love. Just look at modern day celebrities, many of whom are very good looking, rich, and famous. How many successfully married Hollywood couples can you name? … I thought so.
And then consider this: almost every single picture you see online, on billboards, in magazines, and TV advertisements is edited beyond recognition. Skin blemishes are blurred and faded, waistlines are reduced, and hips are perfectly curved. You already knew this, though, didn’t you? I bet you also know that no one is entirely flawless and even if they were, it doesn’t just magically make their life a fun-filled and carefree carousel ride. It is more often than not quite the contrary. So just relax. No one’s got it all. It’s an illusion.
I’ll leave you with a quote. Although it’s a tad cheesy, it’s still so relevant:
“Beauty isn’t about having a pretty face. It’s about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart, and a pretty soul.”
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