This post was written as part of Peeve Week 2: Stereotypes.
Quoting Wikipedia: “The physical attractiveness stereotype is a term that psychologists use to refer to the tendency to assume that people who are physically attractive also possess other socially desirable personality traits.”
Various studies have been conducted on this subject matter. Despite feeling jealous of others being more physically attractive, people tend to prefer to work with, be friends with, hang out with, and look at beautiful people. For one study they showed pictures of different kids to a group of children, ages 4 to 6. Each child from that group was asked to choose who they’d like to be friends with based on those photos. Surprisingly or not, everyone picked the good looking, slim kids opposite to chubby and/or not so handsome peers.
So how does it work, how do we become so prejudiced to the looks of people from such a young age? Why is it so common to think that more attractive people are more successful, happier, or self-confident? On the other hand, why do some perceive people with good looks to be less intelligent, more obnoxious, or less loyal?
Famous Russian author Dostoevsky once wrote in his novel “The Idiot” that “Beauty Will Save the World.” Unfortunately our society took that prophecy to its extreme. More people become unhappy with their looks than ever before. Both women and men go under the knife to enhance their physical attractiveness.
Of course, Hollywood, the fashion and music industry, television, and press add even more fuel to this fire of obsession with beauty. The newest tendency that is extremely scary is the fact that the distinct perception of beauty in different cultures is slowly but surely disappearing into thin air. An increasing number of Asian Americans are going for eyelid surgery. The corrective nose surgery and BOTOX treatments are becoming one of the most common and fastest growing types of plastic surgery for both genders.
While researching this topic for my peeve post, I was shocked to come across a flourishing online business founded in my own Vancouver, Canada. Justgotem.com is the only website that is successfully selling breast augmentation recovery gift boxes. For only $89.99, you will get “Pre and Post Surgery Checklists, Exclusive Recovery Halter – Pink or Baby Blue, A 12cm X 6cm sheet of Cica-Care Scar Reducer, 1 pack of ReadyBath Cleansing wipes, 1 Hot/Cold Gel Compress, 4 Nipple guards, A Hairband, A Justgotem.com Pen, A Justgotem.com Branded shirt”. The best part of this is the good feeling you’ll get knowing that “A portion of all sales are being donated to Breast Cancer Research.”
The tragic part is to see those people on TV, crying from joy that all those surgeries have boosted their self-confidence, that now they’re much happier. I only wonder how long that happy feeling lasts?
Only a quarter of century ago very few have heard of the term Anorexia Nervosa. The death of Karen Carpenter in 1983 brought the world’s attention to this life threatening disease. Sadly though it didn’t help to reduce our society’s obsession with the promotion of thinness as the “ideal female form.” So many teenage girls and women are being brainwashed that you have to be thin to be beautiful, or you look so beautiful now that you’re tens of pounds lighter than before.
And all of sudden nobody wants to age gracefully. Everyone is so preoccupied with looking younger, getting rid of wrinkles and gray hair. The cosmetic industry is blooming like never before. I guess we should all thank Cleopatra for taking those long milk&honey baths and staying so youthful until she died at the age of 39.
So will Beauty save the world? I truly hope so. There ought to be something that will save our civilization from going to Hell. However it’s not going to be our fixation with Beauty as it is now. We must learn to see the beauty in every human’s soul, the beauty of nature, and all those things that surround us. We must see beauty in us before seeing it in others.
If you would like to read more of what Vivien – the Canadian blogger/Career Mom/Web Designer – has to say about facts of life, design and blogging, head to her site Inspiration Bit and get inspired.