Just the other day, some family members came over for a small reunion. My little six-year-old cousin was getting bored so I took her to my room to look for something to play with. Blowing away the thick layer of dust on a cardboard box, I discovered some long forgotten toys I used to love. Amongst them was my all-time favorite Barbie doll. My cousin took one look at the plastic ‘perfect human’ and immediately fell in love with her. Cradling Barbie, she muttered, “Would I ever be as pretty as her?” Unintentionally, the images of the younger me playing with Barbie came into my mind. Once upon a time, I too worshipped this fake plastic human and longed so much to be just like her. It wasn’t until I grew too old for toys did I realize that it was such a childish dream. Did looks even matter if you had real beauty within?
We live in a world where nobody is perfect. And yet, we are constantly judged by our appearances. As most would agree, it is deemed wrong to spit at a poor beggar just because his clothes are torn and his face isn’t washed, because, perhaps behind that disheveled appearance bears a heart of gold and the resilience to live no matter how tough life gets. Instead, we go all gooey-eyed when we see a glamorous model or a macho body-builder walk by, when, maybe underneath that layer of skin-deep beauty is but a heart made of stone. It just never seems fair, does it?
Look at Barbie. She is beautiful with make-up and puffy dresses but inside all of these cover-ups, she is but a plastic doll. Because of Barbie, many young girls grew up, hoping against hope that they would be just as gorgeous as her someday. And to make their dreams come true, some even go to the extreme of having plastic surgeries to enhance their appearances. However, not all of these surgeries were successful. The unfortunate ones had to bear the ugly consequences of trading their natural beauty for the refinement that backfired. In truth, we are like a paper lantern, no matter how intricate the design, it serves no purpose if the light inside is extinguished. However, even if a lantern is plain and simple, the light and warmth it radiates from within is a beacon in the darkness.
Often, we see models in magazines and on the television and cannot help ourselves from feeling more than a little self-conscious. We see their ‘perfect’ body shape and sharp features and instantly criticize our own hair, clothes, and body. Running to the gym every day, we hope to achieve good body shapes just like the models we have seen. We go on diets and exert ourselves too much until our bodies are overly strained, and still, we push ourselves in hopes to reach our target of looking perfect. We go through all this, forgetting that no one, nobody is perfect. Yes, in the end, we may get the results we hoped for, but what about after that? Are we going to starve ourselves just to maintain an appealing body shape for the rest of our lives? We go too far to achieve what we think is essential to look stunning, but we might still end up at square one despite having once reached our goal.
Besides, beauty can weigh down teenagers because of the extra pressure put on them, especially those in middle and high schools. Studies have shown that more than 40% of boys spend their free time exercising to increase bicep mass and 90% of girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance and only 2% think they are beautiful. Generally, girls in school who are less pretty tend to be jealous of those who are a little more charming. Those who are envious might even verbally and physically abuse others or retreat to sulk in a corner by themselves. Both responses bring only negative effects to the students and are key factors in causing them to lose confidence and self-esteem. In an effort to cope with the fashion trend, students also tend to spend an unnecessary amount of money on the most trendy outfits, sometimes even resorting to stealing from their parents to satisfy their own selfish needs. This no doubt leads to misunderstandings and may cause students involved to fall even deeper into despair.
On the other hand, some may argue that a good first impression is important, especially when attending an interview. They say this makes the interviewer more interested in talking and would most probably make the interview easier. My say is that, as long as you have self-confidence and a unique personality, beauty on the outside is nothing compared to that. When you go for an interview, you are selling yourself, your personality, not your appearance or looks. Perhaps the only benefit of putting so much importance on physical beauty is that it can help us lead a healthier lifestyle and therefore gain more confidence. When we work out, we are actually keeping our body fit and healthy. Remember, though, it lasts only if we continue this routine till the end.
All things considered, we should not put such a heavy emphasis on outer beauty. If everyone were to shed our skin, beauty on the outside would not be worth even a single coin. We should learn to love ourselves the way we are, original with no artifacts. Instead of risking our lives and sacrificing money just to change our physical appearance, why not try for a moment to think that we are beautiful in our own special way. With that in mind, we will grow to be the unique us, beauty blooming from within our souls, and we will grow to realize that personality is so much more important than physical allure.
After all, beauty is but skin deep.
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