Many people say that beauty is about biology. Thick luscious hair, bright eyes, clear skin, good teeth and symmetrical features have always represented good health and vitality. This in turn suggests good genetics which makes a more person desirable. It’s all about choosing a mate to get jiggy jiggy with and to share your genes with. But there’s no denying that beauty ideals also vary across cultures and evolve with time. Thanks to social media, we are exposed to more diverse images of beauty, which is obviously a good thing. But it’s also presenting an illusion of perfection and some pretty unrealistic images of beauty. I call it the ‘TOWIE’ effect (taken from the reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex – TOWIE) where everything is bigger and more exaggerated. Alternatively you could call it ‘Kardashian’ culture. The lips, lashes and lenses are taking over our beauty landscape.
How many makeup videos have you seen on YouTube or Instagram where, in the course of the tutorial, the person has become totally unrecognisable? There’s contouring, sculpting, highlighting and who knows what else, leading to a complete transformation. And then there are the aesthetic adverts for Botox and fillers. Whilst I’m all for feeling and looking good, I’m beginning to think the doll like lashes, coloured contact lenses, pouty lips and contoured faces are a conspiracy against women, propagated by our very own kind! They are promoting these fabricated and exaggerated standards of beauty that simply aren’t real, and are only reachable if you spend a lot of time and money.
i see it all around me, not just on social media. There is a definite shift towards women pursuing these high maintenance beauty ideals in their everyday lives. And sadly, a lot of the time, it’s very young women or girls who feel most compelled to follow these standards. It’s sad because the pressure to conform is immense amongst generation Z and millennials, and is fuelling an obsession with body image. Research from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found the number of women aged between 19-34 having Botox and fillers has risen by 41% since 2011. Why does your average nineteen year old feel the need to have Botox? I get it for older women, who many want to iron out a few wrinkles here and there (never say never, I say), but why should a teenager feel it’s necessary in order to look good? Why are we promoting this manufactured Barbie look which in turn promotes an over reliance on products and procedures? How can this be good for a young person’s self-esteem and self-worth?
Wanting to look beautiful is nothing new or unnatural, and we are all perfectly entitled to make ourselves look attractive. But we are currently in the throes of a body image obsession that focuses on creating a doll-like perfection. I hope this current trend for lips, lashes and lenses fizzles out soon so that young women can stop trying to “fix” themselves and embrace the notion that our imperfections are beautiful too.