Beauty Redefined

February 10, 2010
By Catherine Dinh BRONZE, Newark, California
Catherine Dinh BRONZE, Newark, California
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

People condemn plastic surgery for the same reason they condemn steroids – it is unnatural. But where do we draw the line of our disapproval of unnatural beauty? Make-up, conditioner, shaving cream, expensive clothing and even lotion are all mild forms of cosmetic enhancement. We idealize the most natural beauty possible, encouraging people of all sizes, features, and ethnicities to be content with who they are. But as long as we continue to let outer appearances influence our judgment of people, we cannot really condemn cosmetic surgery. What we need to do is get rid of the perks of being pretty. That is, change the definition of beauty.
How can we go about changing the definition of beauty from small waist, big boobs, long legs, smooth skin, straight nose, and flat stomach to confidence, kindness, generosity, intelligence, humility, strength, and open-mindedness?
Beauty is analogous to stereotypes: it has biological roots but heavily depends on societal perception and thus can be changed.
In Psychology, we learned that stereotyping is a helpful biological adaptation when applied to objects – understanding the properties of one chair and applying it to all objects that look the same in order to identify them as chairs – that becomes harmful when applied to humans – meeting one Chinese student who is good at math and assuming all Chinese students are good at math.
In the same way, being attracted to a physically fit person and preferring them over an overweight person may be a biological adaptation to find the best person to mate and reproduce with. But this rather base interest sometimes conflict with our other needs – to find a partner that we can trust and who can contribute to our emotional growth.
I am sure all of us have met someone who we were not initially attracted to, but upon seeing him/her help someone across the street (kindness) or figure out a complex math problem (intelligence) or deliver a kick-ass speech (confidence) we suddenly become romantically interested.
So we must train ourselves to judge the book only after reading it, to try to see valuable qualities in a person’s behavior rather than appearance. Only by getting rid of the incentive to enhance outer appearances dramatically can we justifiably condemn cosmetic surgery.

The author's comments:
I watched a Korean film called 200 Pounds Beauty about an overweight girl who undergoes cosmetic surgery to win the man of her dreams and become a singer. It made me think how useless it is to condemn people's desire to enhance outer beauty when we as a society value it so highly. So I wrote my piece about how we need to change perceptions of beauty to decrease the drastic and dangerous measures people take to fit society's ideal of beauty.

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