Vicious thoughts- Psychology behind women feeling beautiful with cosmetics and surgeries…or not.
Cosmetics and beauty treatments play a vital role in letting you achieve the perfect look that you are going to feel satisfied with or do they…? Take it from the cosmetic companies that sell you the products and coax you into taking cosmetic implants. They tell you what this ‘perfect’ look entails too. Long hair that tumbles lusciously down your back, milky white- golden sun-kissed skin, silky and smooth. Your thin waisted hourglass figure, enticing. Lips red and buttery. Full eyebrows and gentle some color eyes, wide and round with longer eyelashes that grace your high cheekbones.
At this, your mind starts working. You grow up watching these ads with starry eyes. You read a romantic book and it’s right there staring at you. It’s telling you if you want your prince charming or a dark knight you must possess those beautiful features or you’re doomed to remain single for life. But there’s more to it, you jump out of your teenage years comparing yourself to these ‘ideal’ women that tell you these remedies and what not. You try them and then you see no change until you get the knowledge that there is a different path you need to take to possess those goddess-like features. You know they are extreme ones at that and then you have a decision to make…just make-up? Maybe even Botox and a nose job or something more…but the question is, do you know when to stop?
Beauty has always existed as an important factor in the world. From waging wars for the beautiful maiden to a queen avenging her kingdom with her beauty, it has always been alive. It is defined differently at different times. But with so many revolutions, historical events and the love for more, the concept has now given rise to a multibillion-dollar industry that fulfills women’s need to look beautiful or so it seems. The cosmetic industry is flourishing so well that it was worth $93.5 billion in 2019 which is a total of $74.7billion profit from the year before. It is expected to garner 429.8 billion dollars during the forecast period of 2016-22. With the number of participants in the mission, it doesn’t seem like a far cry.
Women use cosmetics for a sole reason, to look beautiful and attractive. Any other opinion one may have is only a byproduct. Cosmetics like make-up are used usually by a large group of women to temporarily achieve the look they desire which in turn makes them seem attractive. Not only does it give them the confidence they need in presenting themselves, but it also helps them in many areas of life, such as giving a first best impression at interview to winning a date or just because they wanna post a picture on their Facebook or Instagram profile. It is a legitimate fact.
Studies have shown that women that indulge in cosmetics and pour effort in seeming attractive are assumed to be more competent, authoritative and successful. Halo effect, a psychological experiment conducted in 1972 by Karen Dion, Ellen Berscheid and Elaine Walster is based on the same findings. A group of men was produced with photographs of stranger men with looks ranging from average to outstanding. Having nothing else to decide with, they rated the success of the strangers based on the level of handsomeness and thought that the men with outstanding looks were more successful in life. Also, Catherine A. Sanderson in her book, Social Psychology talks about how attractiveness can affect a person’s social life as people are more prone to indulge in conversation with an attractive person. They are assumed to be the best in several expeditions. It is no doubt that the one deemed more attractive than the others are more likely to be treated special which in turn enhances their performance.
While being beautiful and fit is good enough, the obsession with physical appearance can make the women take a dangerous road and never feel satisfied with it. One may start losing things when they try to gain beauty with obsessive reasons and it’s not just money. Women all around the world are taking extreme measures to achieve that perfect look. Glutathione intravenous intake for white skin, surgeries to get that perfect hourglass figure, cutting down the part of their faces to get high cheekbones, and using chemicals to reduce the signs of aging are only a few of them. And it is not limited to models and celebrities either. But even with such treatments and effort, satisfaction is rarely achieved which in turn costs them the loss of time, money, sanity (body dysmorphic disorder- A mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance.) and overall fear of seeming uglier. Not only do women feel worthless without the layers of makeup on them, in cases of extremism, also let others judge them on the very basis.
Psychology lays down the factors that in combination with each other lead women to explore the world of cosmetics in a rather predicament manner.
· Childhood, Adolescence, and Parenting- Parents are the first step in teaching the children the value of…well, everything. So, it is obvious that children learn to love themselves from their parents. A girl that grows up to be more appreciative of her looks is usually because her parents are confident of their looks and treat her with love and appreciation. But if a mother is critical of her child possessing her father’s unruly hair or vice versa, she is more likely to grow hating it and herself for it. So, as an adult, she will probably try and change the ugly part of her with the thousands of expensive and painful procedures available.
‘Bring Out The Best In Your Child And Yourself’, is a book written by Ilene Val-Essen, Ph.D. It talks about how parents can bring out the best in their children as they transition from being a child to a teenager. It advises on how to help them to survive through the difficulties, and come out stronger that are confident in themselves.
· Cultural influences and Region- Beauty was perceived differently in different regions of the world, at least it was until social revolutions took place and now it is either changed or mingled. For example, India followed the caste system, heavily before the British revolution. The higher caste called Brahmins were considered holy with their white skin while those baked in the sun in the farms and all tanned were well, ugly and dirty. And now although the discrimination of caste is no longer legal, the white-skinned toned people are still regarded with eyes of admiration, especially women. However, most, if not all of the Asian countries are dependent on this type of play, religiously, especially in countries like South Korea, China, Bangkok, and Japan. In these Asian countries, slim women with fairest of skin color are considered beautiful. So, women with tanned skin meet dermatologists and undergo cosmetic surgeries to achieve the standard beauty and never feel satisfied with the outcome.
· Social media and Aging- With the ever-changing trends and tactics to be famous on social media, women obsessed with beauty stalk celebrities over their phones for several hours together.
For instance, your favorite celebrity has got a new nose job and is now the center of attention from the media. While your nose is good and well, your admiration for the celebrity instigates you to get yours done for the sole reason to make it look like hers. But it is nowhere near hers and you’ve spent thousands of dollars. You don’t care, you need it to be done, so you spend again. You read online that people find symmetrical faces attractive, you reduce the size of your jawline on one side. And when you find wrinkles on your face, you’re losing your mind and you spend all the hoarded money to try the new procedure done by a lady on Instagram…the vicious cycle continues.
In the book, Face It: What Women Really Feel When Their Looks Change by Vivian Diller, Ph.D., talks about the inner dilemma women go through concerning their looks with increasing age. And as old age starts to catch up what measures the women can take to relieve themselves of their gripping fear. Women, however, desperate and with excess obsession and fear of their changing looks resort to procedures that will provide them with instant results and prevent aging. They tend to lose control over their life when the procedures show little effect and thereby let it intervene with their sense of sanity.
· Society and criticism- Let’s face it, the world can be a cruel place to live if you’re weak. But even the strongest of women have faced criticism on their looks and felt self-doubt. The truth is we are all in one way or another following the whims of society. Surely, women had gone forward in academics, business, and political careers but even now, women are made to feel lesser. Women are still told that love is all they’re capable of, by fulfilling the role of a mother, wife, and a good daughter. They’re told that appearances matter the most if they want to get married to a successful man.
The notion has very well settled in the minds of the women, that they haven’t fulfilled their role as a woman if they are incapable of marrying. And if they’re not good enough to fit in the superficial standards, they are just that…incapable. So, women knowingly and unknowingly try and fit in the paradigm of looking perfect. They starve themselves, use heavier make up—feel worthless without it. Worse, they determine their self-worth on the number of suitors trying to woo them into the realm of bliss. The not so surprising part of it is that men are discreet of their opinion while women are loud, telling each other that if they were to be hogging food all the time, no one’s going to marry them.
Women tell other women, your boyfriend is too handsome for you, you’re too fat to be trying for modeling. As a result, doubt and deprivation cloud your mind and you feel undeserving of things because you don’t have enough looks for it. Oh, but you’re determined to prove them wrong but not by constructing your mind for self-love. You use the alternate way to make others love you, thickening your too thin lips, reducing your waist size, tanning your ghostly white skin. You change yourself and you don’t stop to ask yourself this. Is this change for the better or worse?
· Insecurity- Marisa Peer, a famous therapist has spent more than 25 years working with celebrities such as Hollywood actors, athletes, businessmen, and businesswomen, etc. They talk to her about their fear of letting themselves down and how they’re not enough. They fear their talents are not enough, their achievements may be lacking a thing or two. Their compassion level is low and how their changing looks may hold them back or how they’re not beautiful enough. So, one can only imagine the rate of phobia on looks is spread not only in the lives of celebrities but everybody. Women, however, fear it in every waking moment that someone smarter than them, someone more impressive than them are going to steal their spot. Weirdly enough, women and men often believe the reason someone else took a spot over them was because of only their looks while their own talents are wasted. Then…
You get jealous and you compare your looks with every other woman, either in admiration or jealousy. Your obsession does not end only to yourself but creeps its way into other women. It leads to hatred to self and another until your mind is filled with all sorts of thoughts and you’re uncomfortable in your skin. You are never happy with yourself because you’re so lost in your obsession with looks, anything else doesn’t matter.
Heeding to the warning through the tell-tale signs is the first thing one needs to do to stop themselves from taking a precarious path. The fiercer the obsession with looks is the more incapable one is going to feel. But women are not the only gender feeling the pressure which leads them to self- destruction in the name of choice. Men too are expected to cross a certain threshold to feel capable of success, marriage, and responsibilities. The best advice would be to learn to back off and understand that there is no good criticism when it comes to physical appearance. That alone will solve most of the problems.
Ask yourself as a woman why you’re going through with this obsession. Do not tell yourself you’re putting yourself under the needle because it’s your choice, ask yourself why it is your choice. Ask yourself how you can expect someone else to accept you as a strong, independent, and beautiful woman when you cannot accept yourselves.
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