In every aspect of society, humans are encouraged to be conscious of their appearance. It is not just in the western culture where great value is placed on beauty but in every culture; Asia, Europe and Africa all have their standards of beauty. Moreover, this is not a modern trend but has existed throughout history. However, what’s slowly changing with the rise of social media and the Internet is the intense pressure to conform to certain standards of beauty perpetuated in the media. In other words, with access to the media, we are more and more encouraged to aspire to look a certain way. The days of variety in beauty are slowly disappearing and more people are associating beauty with certain features. As a result, many men and women chase this ‘beauty’ at the cost of their health, wealth, dignity and self-esteem.
Last week we talked about perfection and how there is really no such thing as being ‘perfect.’ The conclusion of last week’s Journey to Perfection article was that although there is nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful, there is a price to be paid when you get too obsessed.
As a multi-billion dollar industry, the cosmetic business is quickly growing. There is nothing you can’t find in beauty stores, from teeth whiteners, skin bleachers to mud masks for rejuvenation. In fact some desperate people are even willing to adopt unorthodox methods of keeping themselves or render themselves perfect. Thus, industries such as cosmetics and luxury fashion continue to profit because they promise buyers perfection, something that is unattainable yet undeniably desired. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful, there is nothing wrong with using cosmetics and there is nothing wrong with cosmetic surgery if it is necessary; they are people who honestly and medically need cosmetic surgery. The problem starts when the attainment of perfection takes precedence over everything else in your life. It has been preached before and we will preach it again, beauty isn’t everything. Although the world seems to be infatuated with it, when it comes down to it, life is more than perfect breasts or awesome abs.
There is a reason that after years of saying the same thing, there are still hundreds of articles that talk about acceptance. It is so easy to fall into the trap of unworthiness as a male or female, everyone at some point has looked at a celebrity or a model and thought, “I wish I was as beautiful/handsome as him/her.” Moreover, these experiences are neither limited to a younger generation nor is it gender specific. We are have created a world of insecurities and unrealistic expectations and no one is immune to it.
As shocking as it may sound, South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita in the world and not the USA as some might like to believe. South Korea is a country where between one-fifth and one-third of women in Seoul have gone under the knife. At 50 percent, this figure increases for women above 20 years old. Greece ranks second and women there are obsessed with breast augmentations. Other countries with high cosmetic surgery rates are, Italy, USA, Brazil and Mexico among others. A considerable amount of thought and self-reflection should take place before you make that leap of cosmetic surgery. For example, ask yourself, “why am I doing this?…who I am doing it for?” Although countries in Africa are not as exposed to cosmetic surgery, with trends such as skin bleaching and tummy tucks, we too are vulnerable to beauty expectations.
The November #MakeUpArtist series had focused mostly on beauty and make-up artists. But what we are trying to remind people is that beauty is inborn, there is beauty in diversity. Make-up is a tool for transformation but it is not what defines a beautiful face or body. Although it is hard not to be influenced by what you constantly see in the media, try everyday to appreciate who you are and how you look. There is astounding beauty in imperfection.
This year has been a good year of reflection, inspirations and learning. Our last series for this year (2015) Holiday Fashion Watch Series will look at different things including African designers we believe should be in your radar. Enjoy!
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