In our modern day and age of Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms that promote social media presence, beauty holds power. Perfection is the goal for each selfie, each Instagram feed – with beauty enhancing filters and ‘aesthetic’ expectations. Beauty builds one’s public image that can even be profitable with thousands of followers gushing over high cheekbones, fair skin, pearl white teeth, and slim figure. Although this generates income, money isn’t the capital that measures true value.
The desire for beauty is a thing of the past that remains as a timeless stain on our society today.
Back in the 17th and 18th century, pale white skin was a trend in Europe which people admired as a mark of wealth and idleness, in contrary to sunburnt skin from hard labour in the fields. The desperation for this ideal mark of beauty was shown in how women would even paint their face white with lead paint, even at the risk of skin corrosion and death from lead poisoning.
Even some famous icons of beauty promote the toxicity of beauty standards, in which, could literally pose as harmful to bodies.
Marilyn Monroe, a woman who reigns in praise for her ‘natural’ beauty by many until this day, was not as natural as people perceive or want to believe. She drastically modified her features with a nose job, hairline electrolysis to shape her face, cartilage implant in her chin, breast implants, with even false teeth. The extent women go through just to achieve beauty standards for the sake of vanity goes as far as modifying their own natural features.
It’s no different from our modern day society – in fact, it has probably gotten even worse. Social media has proven its benefits throughout the era of connecting the world beyond boundaries of land and sea, but this also extends its danger to us all.
Social media has created beauty as a source of power
Some might not realize how the obsession for beauty is more toxic than how it was in the past. Social media celebrates this obsession and urges people to constantly feed their followers with their vanity so much that it might come off as worship. The idolization of beautiful people creates a superficial idea of perfection which people constantly chase; through cosmetic surgery, or even adapting to luxury lifestyles to appear likeable to the public.
Instafamous beauty encourages a judgmental society
As beauty attracts attention, people become more familiar with the beauty standards and many people chase after it, splurging over their own vanity. This culture of obsessing over beauty has made society belittle those who are deemed ugly for not meeting with beauty standards.
Beauty is the new currency
People who appear more beautiful garner more attention, this is why brands target Instagram famous people to promote their products. They believe that the people who love them for their beauty would eventually idolize them and want to become like them. The benchmark for success is now shifted to view online presence as the prime and leading standard of achievements – placing academic qualifications or humane attributes behind, or probably not even important.
Is there a cure for this disease?
Beauty is an obsession that has become a toxic to society. Although beauty helps with one’s self esteem, the obsession over it has potential to lower confidence as well. It’s a process of what people would cover it up as ‘self-love’ when in reality, it embraces the ugliness of society.
Perhaps the cure would be if we angle our definition of beauty elsewhere. We can be inspired by other things or people who express beauty through other platforms, such as in artistic mediums like music, literature or visual art. The superficial idea of beauty should be removed in order to embrace the true value of being human. Beauty is skin deep – you can find it on one’s appearance, but true beauty lies within.
- Neila Maryam Neil Bakry Marsoh adalah pelajar Fakulti Filem, Teater dan Animasi (FiTA) UiTM.
- Prof Madya Dr. Mohd Syuhaidi Abu Bakar adalah Pensyarah Kanan dan Timbalan Dekan Penyelidikan dan Jaringan Industri (FiTA) UiTM.