PERSONALITIES

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

By Wendy Long
23 Apr 2018

Although generations have dismissed beauty as skin deep, in reality its root runs very deep.

The calendar reminders I receive on my hand phone are typically appointments for manicure and pedicure, hair salon (weekly wash and blow, quarterly hair trim and bi-monthly roots touch up), laser (hair removal), bi-weekly laser (face), weekly medi-facial, personal training session—the list goes on.

I know I’m not alone here. In fact, I know of ladies who have that list on an even shorter rotation. By putting my schedule out there, I’m subjecting myself to ridicule and judgment. But it is no secret that women spend a lot of time and money on beautifying themselves—the beauty industry is worth billions of dollars for a reason. Besides, why should one be embarrassed about being (overly) diligent with a rigorous beauty regime?

The most common question I receive, with regards to the revelation of the timetable is, “Who are you doing it for?” Myself, of course! Which seems to catch most by surprise, and I find that baffling. In this day and age, why should it even raise an eyebrow to be self-absorbed? The only time one should not raise an eyebrow is when it had been botoxed (in the context of this topic, of course). Celebrities are not the only ones who face the pressure of looking good as time catches up. Ordinary folks are just as worried and stressed by the ravages of time on their visage. Women, in particular, face greater pressure in preserving their youth and appearances as compared to men.

The ability to bear children is a running subtext in the portrayal of beautiful women through the years.

Since ancient times, women have been judged by their appearances. The ideals of beauty may change, but fundamentally, it’s about appearances. If we strip it down to basics, historically, a women’s role is procreation and hence the perception of fertility is what makes a woman attractive to the opposite sex. In the past, a plump figure is considered attractive because a rotund woman is perceived to be fertile and childbearing qualities are highly desirable. A full figure and fair complexion also project the image of wealth as it means she is a lady of leisure who does not need to toil the field. That further accentuates her attractiveness as a desirable child-bearing wife. Fast forward to modern times, and while society’s ideas of attractiveness have changed, at its core, it still has deep-seated connotations with fertility.

Today, however, a lean physique is perceived as desirable as it means she is eating well (and has the means to do so as it is expensive to eat well) and has the discipline to work out regularly. All of which gives the impression of desirable fertility attributes. Which explains why youth (for a woman) is such a prized commodity as it is keenly associated with fertility.

While most do not go out looking for a mating partner per se, the basic DNA in us is wired to be attracted to someone whom we feel (conscious or not) we can procreate with and that inherently means physical attraction. The shift in trends of what’s considered physically appealing comes swift and while it is indeed impressionable to be swayed easily, it remains a fact that human beings have strong herd instincts and it takes a steely will power to chart your own course, away from the flow. We are all susceptible to peer pressure and being a woman, the emphasis on appearances is much stronger than it is for a man, who is judged mainly for his ability to protect and provide. Hence woman (and increasingly even men) often subject themselves to various grooming routines to maintain and improve their physical image as that is society’s ideals and we all want to feel good about ourselves, which in this case means conforming to perceived notions of what’s considered physically attractive. The proliferation of social media makes the pressure even more demanding as everyone is constantly projecting a “perfect” image of themselves to the world. It is a competitive world and who will want to fall behind the pack and not make an effort to put their best front forward? 

The ‘Strong Woman’ is a reworking of a familiar narrative: The female as a body-aware individual.

Of course beauty is only skin deep, and there are many other qualities that make a woman beautiful. A confident woman is a beautiful woman. So if enhancing one’s appearances gives one a boast in confidence, then should it matter whether that sense of confidence is manufactured (rather than innate?). 

Ultimately, its mind over body and if one feels good, they will look good. So do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel good. If it means starting an anti-aging program in your early 20s because it is important to you to remain looking as young as possible, then just do it. Just because we want to minimize the effects of aging as we get older does not mean we are not aging gracefully. It just means we want to preserve our confidence as we face the inevitable. It’s like a shield against insecurity and uncertainty. So if you feel you need an overhaul and turn back the clock as you approach your 60s, sign up for it as soon as possible! As they say, time and tide wait for no men. Why wait till you are “older”? What if tomorrow never comes and you never had the chance to “get older”? Life is short and we should do whatever makes us happy. Live it with no regrets and always remember to seize the day.