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Our Obsession

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Have you ever looked in the mirror and wanted to change how you look? Many people have. The reason for this is because of our society’s obsession with physical appearance.
This obsession has been in humankind from the earliest beginnings of civilization. This fact has been forced more towards women, but men are also targeted for this. During our history, we have changed the concept of beauty and done ridiculous things in history to achieve that goal. Some examples of this are corsets in the 15th century, to today’s plastic surgery.
People first started to change their image in ancient times. They would use concoctions of dangerous chemicals to pale their skin to achieve the treasured porcelain skin. Women of this time craved paleness because it showed that you didn’t have to work in the sun. Later in history, women were painting their faces to cover their flaws and shaving their arms and legs and even their heads to achieve their picture of beauty.
All throughout history, we have hopped from one side of the spectrum to another in terms of beauty. In ancient Egypt; Cleopatra was considered an amazingly beautiful queen, but with today’s standards she would be known as an unattractive woman for her large nose. Another example of this is with the flappers of the 1920s who considered small breasts ideal, while women of today are going out of their way to spend nearly 1.1 billion dollars on breast implants.
Furthermore, women have always been more pressured towards being “beautiful.” Most of these ideals have come from what women feel men find most attractive. This meant to most women that they needed to be perfect, even if they could never reach it. The standards of these traits have changed through history, according to what was in trend with that time. Often, harmful things were used to help women acquire what they thought was the “perfect” body image. Some methods women used were mercury, corsets, foot binding, footwear, and plastic surgery.
Men also feel the pressure of beauty. In today’s society, men are constantly being bombarded with their appearance. This has caused men to be more prone to eating disorders, and in today’s world, men are starting to account for 10% of all eating disorder cases. The pressure on men has also caused an increase in the popularity of cosmetic surgery for men. These changes have been stoked by the media’s numerous images of skinny, muscular men.
As you can see, both men and women feel the pressure of visual beauty. So this brings me back to my first point. Why do we change ourselves to create what we think is beautiful? The answer to that partially is that human beings crave the average, and the more average you are, the more beautiful you are considered. This is supported by the fact that evolution has honed us to look for those who appear more average, and anything that’s different to our perception of average is strange. Beauty is also warped by the media, who promote eating disorders with emaciated actresses. The media continually changes society’s view on beauty by complimenting those who have what they consider is beautiful and shunning those who don’t fit the bill.
Because of the media, many young people are being pushed to believe that they are ugly because they don’t match the people on the screen. A big part of the picture with today’s beauty is with waist size and body fat. In many western societies, having excess body fat is frowned upon and is considered unattractive. This fad has been encouraged by the media. They have shown that in order to be desired by anyone, you have to squeeze into size 0 jeans, and that is considered impossible by most people. This has caused many young girls to be more insecure about their bodies, to be more prone to eating disorders, and also to be pressured more towards doing things they will regret such as drugs or alcohol.
As you can see, what we consider beauty is actually a sad, warped vision of the real thing. I believe that we should try to promote that we are all different and that we shouldn’t try to change what is already beautiful. The beauty created by society throughout time has been a constantly moving target, and why should we plague ourselves with a goal we’ll never reach? I believe that in this modern world, that we will be able to in the near future to accept everyone and banish the savage world of visual beauty.





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