Beauty culture may seem harmless, but it is more than just skin deep. How we approach our aesthetics is part of our psychology, and it has a heavy impact on how we view ourselves and construct our identities. The value that we place on beauty as a society has an affect on the individuals within it. Obviously, some individuals are going to have more beauty than others, and a society that overly values beauty is sending a message to its less beautiful members that they are not as valuable. This is a tragedy as beauty should be seen as inconsequential.
The first part of the message that beauty culture sends people is that there are beauty standards. Merely the implication that these standards exist is already setting an unrealistic precedent. Who could possibly have the authority to set beauty standards? No two people look alike. We have incredible diversity in our appearances. This is the first problem of beauty culture: that its entire foundation is based on a fallacy.
The second part of the message that beauty culture sends people is that beauty standards are ever increasing. This is a stressful notion considering that a person can only change their appearance so much. But alas, one can examine changing beauty standards over time and realize that they are ever becoming more and more strict, reaffirming the notion that one can never feel satisfied and confident with their appearance.
And lastly, the third part of the message that beauty culture sends people is that ever increasing beauty standards must be met. The implication is that those who do not meet the culture’s standards of beauty will be left behind and devalued. This is such a harmful message to send people, especially to the more vulnerable members of society. Implying that someone is not worth while and has nothing to contribute to society because of the way they look is extremely detrimental to their sense of worth and self esteem.
Beauty culture is highly prevalent in modern times. We see its influences every day of our lives. We value beauty higher than we value health. The advantages that physical beauty will get us in life are impressed upon us from the time that we are small children. We are lead to understand that beautiful people are admired, rewarded and superior, while unattractive people are offensive, unappreciated and useless. We give our children role models of petite, angelic female figures and muscular, strong male figures and influence them to aspire to these ideals. This obsessive value we place on beauty is damaging to our psyches and deteriorating to our morality.
The reasons that people get carried away with plastic surgery are complex in nature, but one cannot discuss plastic surgery obsession and not make mention of the vanity that is so common to our culture. This is not to say that anyone who has taken plastic surgery and cosmetic alterations too far is vain. There are a number of reasons people use these procedures in excess, many of which are tied to legitimate mental health problems. However, our societal trends of obsessive beauty culture and focus on self image that informs our vanity is certainly contributing to the problem.
When it comes to cosmetic procedures like plastic surgery, beauty culture informs us that we would be better off if our noses were just that much smaller or lips that much fuller. It influences us to believe that plastic surgery can help us attain the level of perfection that we are seeking in our appearances. This prompts people to do things like spend their children’s college funds on plastic surgery for themselves, receive so many cosmetic alterations that their faces look more like masks than actual faces and spend their entire existences pursuing a level of physical perfection that does not exist. This side of beauty culture is toxic and harmful to people of all ages and should be eradicated.