As someone who doesn’t really care about fashion or about wearing makeup every day (mainly because I’m lazy), but equally enjoys dressing up for a night out, I often wonder how much of how we look defines who we are. Girls everywhere are posting selfies, saying that if it makes them happy to be so concerned with their image, then what’s the harm? But truthfully these are often the women who are not happy with themselves at all. So when does this kind of vanity become insanity? Is our societies acceptance of things like selfies and botox having a detrimental effect on our children’s perception of what ‘normal’ women look like?
Women get judged on their appearance constantly, by both men and other women, be it in the work place or socially. In magazines all you see is celebrities being criticised on their weight, how old they look and what clothes they’re wearing. Our sense of self worth has become reliant on how attractive we are deemed by our peers and society. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how good a person you are. What appears to matter is how far can your looks get you in life, how much can you acquire for yourself by using your ‘goods’, or how quickly you can lose your baby weight.
This is something many people ignore. It’s good to take pride in your appearance isn’t it? It’s how the world works. Sex sells and all that. But it is not ok when vanity becomes more important than what should take precedence; looking good shouldn’t trump doing good.
When I was growing up, my idols were people of great talent. My peers wanted to become doctors, lawyers. Some wanted to become singers and actresses. It is increasingly being reported that young people, especially girls, just want to become ‘famous’. In extreme cases mothers are preparing their children for this. Not to become well known for a talent. Nope. Just fame. Be it a reality star, to marrying a footballer, the route in acquiring that ‘glamourous’ lifestyle is no longer a concern. Among the top 10 celebrities followed on Instagram are Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and Beyonce. One takes her clothes off at every given opportunity (and also apparently sings…who knew!), one has apparently become the most famous celebrity in the world without having any actual talent, and the other has become a super star by stripping on stage whilst miming to music she hasn’t written and posting self obsessed almost naked pictures of herself on social media sites.
But I don’t blame these people, I blame the ones buying into it. What kind of message do we send to our children and to ourselves by letting people like this become rich and famous?
You might say this is all harmless. Celebrity culture has always been a bit inane and shallow and doesn’t effect people in the real world right? But if this were true we wouldn’t be dealing with anorexic 6 years olds, be injecting ourselves with toxins to retain a youthful complexion and pumping fat from one part of our body to another. Am I the only one who thinks we’ve gone insane? That vanity has become out of control? That feminism was meant to empower women and yet here we are, being judged by nothing other than how many lines we have on our face. I feel we have never lived in a less empowering time. We should be championing wrinkles, these tell us how we’ve lived, give our faces character and become the lines of our adventures! We should be teaching our little girls that what is important is what is inside and teaching our boys that women are not objects to be used. It is hard to do this when all they see within our culture is the championing of the very opposite.
I can’t say I am immune to this. This very morning I have been looking into Botox. I have terrible lines on my forehead and yes, sometimes they get me down. But I bet none of you would have even noticed without me pointing them out! The more I read up on Botox the more I couldn’t understand it. It’s a toxin with horrible and sometimes permanent side effects. Plastic surgery, previously for those with afflictions and self obsessed celebs, has become the norm! I’m not talking about those very rare instances where procedures do truly help with self esteem, I mean those that mould us into one clone after another of what we are told is beautiful. Boobs and bums must be big, face must be wrinkle free, stomach must be flat and god forbid you’re over a size 12 or have cellulite! If you are truly unhappy with aspects of how you look, whatever happened to working hard at it instead of popping to a surgery like a routine doctor’s appointment? Doing some exercise, eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water. If you are still unhappy then you need to be looking inside at why you have such low self esteem, not out, because the problem isn’t how you look, it’s how you perceive yourself and how you think you should look.
I wonder sometimes whether people will look back at us in hundreds of years and laugh at our idiocy. Like we do now at doctors using leeches to cure ailments.
I can’t say these things don’t scare me. Having dealt with many demons of my own, often to do with my physical appearance, be it my cellulite or my lines, I am terrified of having children grow up in this sort of society. Yes, it is up to parents to teach their children what’s important. But is difficult to get away from it. Every time I get a handle on my self image, I open a magazine with perfect celeb’s bodies in, or an advert for the latest youth enhancer. It has become so normal to try to better ourselves outside, yet there’s very little on how to better ourselves inside, be less selfish and less vain.
But then I guess selflessness doesn’t make anyone any richer. How sad that we have not only bought into this self obsessed culture, we are actively making a contribution to the downfall of the empowerment of women, probably making some business men very rich in the process.
I know I’m not fat, I know I’m not hideous. I know that there are people with truly awful disfigurements in this world, people with disabilities and people who would give anything for only a few lines on their forehead. So let’s appreciate what we have and revel in our uniqueness. Let’s build each other up and count the things we love. Let’s work on being good people, not just attractive ones!