In one way or another, society has made us believe that we constantly need to better or change ourselves – we never seem to be happy as we are. How we view our physical appearance, and what we think of ourselves when we look in the mirror, has become an inescapable obsession that consumes us. Does how you look ever affect your mood? How much does your self-esteem depend on your physical appearance? Do you only feel good when you look good? Our own flesh seems to be betraying us.
We live in a world that highly values the importance of physical appearance. Movies, TV shows, billboards, magazines and social media all display pretty people. But what does it mean to be pretty, and where did the idea of pretty come from? Who gets to decide what’s pretty and what’s not? Our obsession with looks spans continents, cultures, communities, and centuries. Appearance is valued more today than character or personal achievements, which is a huge reason why people are largely unsatisfied with how they look instead trying to become what they see elsewhere. This infatuation with appearance is obsessive, inescapable, and makes it easy to lose control. Our emotional energy and self-worth becomes so deeply intertwined with what we see when we look in the mirror, it can exhaust us if we’re not careful.
Society places too much emphasis on what we look like, and doesn’t give enough credit to the other elements of our lives that make us who we are. Why aren’t we talking more about our health, our wellbeing, our education, our accolades, our achievements, our feelings? Our end goal shouldn’t only revolve around our personal image. We should be emphasising the value of our inner qualities and personality traits, not just our outer qualities. When you spend copious amounts of time fixating on your makeup, your hair, what outfit you’re wearing, you create flaws that don’t even exist. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for societal pressure and beauty ideals most of us would probably look completely different. Looking good on the outside isn’t the be all and end all, it’s not the only way to achieve happiness. There’s so much more to life than this endless struggle of obsessing over what we look like, there’s so much more to us than our physical appearances.
No one has ever left a lasting impression on me by having the perfect body, the perfect outfit, the perfect makeup and hairstyle, or anything along those lines. They’ve left an impact on me because of their kindness, their vulnerability, their patience. It’s safe to say there’s not anyone out there in the big wide world who doesn’t care about how they look to some degree, it’s human nature after all. We’re wired that way. But why do we think the only way to leave a lasting impact is by what we look like? We spend so much time worrying about the things in life that matter the least, and yes if you hadn’t figured it out already our inescapable obsession with our physical appearance is one of those things.
Written by J’Nae Phillips