"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Ugliness of Perfection

Here's a trend that really irks me - plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes. Whether it's cosmetic 'enhancements' such as eyelid scraping, brow lifts, lip fillers, facelifts, nose jobs, collagen injections, laser skin treatments, breast augmentation or botox, it just perpetuates the very dodgy idea of a perfect beauty and the idea that normal signs of ageing are flaws - ie unattractive - so must therefore be erased.

But just what is it that's really going on here? Fear of death? Fear of being unloved, unattractive and unwanted simply because of being (and looking) older? Fear that we are nothing unless we conform to some conformist idea of exterior beauty - throughout our existence - with our faces frozen in the look of our youth or altered to resemble the perceived perfection of our superstar idols' appearances? Surely, this is a shallow view. You'd think that as we grow older, we would grow stronger and wiser in character. So just what is wrong with reflecting this on the outside? Why is it that we only perceive beauty in youthful faces and bodies?

To my thinking, unless we are hideously disfigured - by birth or accident - or so heavy in the breasts that it is a burden on our skeletons, this search for (apparent) perfection is a very disturbing trend indeed. Even worse, is that women's magazines now discuss cosmetic enhancement in much the same way as skin care products and makeup - that is, as a part of women's general upkeep. Unfortunately, more and more people are turning to these procedures. They're routinely shown on tv makeover shows as ways to gain confidence. However, I don't want to live in a world where most people pay a fortune to erase signs of age and the rest of us are judged as hideous, simply because we don't conform to such stereotypes of beauty. In that world, everyone is looking more and more alike anyway. And this is hardly a triumph for women - to be spending their hard-earned cash on erasing the signs of their lives. Although only the wealthy can really afford this sort of thing, of course it's spreading to the rest of the population who, unhappy with the apparent insignificance of their own existences, aim to be just like their wealthy celebrity idols. The proliferation of celebrity tv shows and magazines only perpetuates this. If only I had Angelina Jolie's lips, I would feel so much more confident and desirable. Blah! Many of the results of cosmetic surgery procedures leave much to be desired anyway.

We are all going to die. We are born, we grow, we bloom and form relationships with others and hopefully grow wiser and more beautiful as we learn who we are and try to better ourselves as human beings. I am all for the idea of looking and feeling the best that we can for our ages, but maybe we should be focusing on our health instead - what we're eating, what we're thinking and what we're doing with our lives. If we just can't get happy with who we are, we should see a shrink or, at least, find something to do.

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