There was a time when only the rich & famous were under constant scrutinizing by the entire world. Today, anyone who has a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or, the most superficial of them all, a Tinder account is being watched every single day, if not every single hour. Never before have we been able to look at ourselves as much as we do now. And just the thought of your life being so easily accessible to judgment and criticism is a big reason for many to do anything to perfectionize their looks.
Through the centuries there has always been an ‘obsession’ with appearance. Our brain technically works the same as that of a peacock, the more beautiful the feathers, the more suited the partner. But in this day and era we all seem to succumb to narcissism and it’s aftermath. There have never been as much anti-aging products on the market as there are today. Cosmetic surgery isn’t just for rich Beverly Hills housewives or celebrities any longer, because more and more affordable procedures are being developed. Woman start doing Botox at a younger age, a procedure that is even being done preventive more often as well. For many twenty-somethings it’s perfectly acceptable to go in for a bit of Botox before there is even a hint of a wrinkle, as they’ll consider it a smart investment. ‘Smoothing a wrinkle or plumping up your lips is usually the gateway to other cosmetic procedures,’ says Jessica WU, M.D., a Los Angeles based dermatologist with an impressive celebrity clientele. ‘Once someone is comfortable with needles, they’ll be quicker to consider larger procedures such as cheek implants, lifting the lips and a breast augmentation.’
No one wants the world to know they’ve been laying in bed in holey pajamas with greasy hair the entire weekend, wolfing down a bag of stale chips while watching reruns of The Nanny.
Me, Myselfie and I
Beauty & Brains used to be the perfect combination. Nowadays, the standard is a lot higher because a pretty face and a pair of brains aren’t cutting it anymore to satisfy your thousands of social media ‘friends’. A great job, fabulous car, fancy clothes, a gorgeous mansion and a phenomenal selfie, with all of the above of course, is the least your online profile should contain. No one wants the world to know they’ve been laying in bed in holey pajamas with greasy hair the entire weekend, wolfing down a bag of stale chips while watching reruns of The Nanny. And because the life of others is so easily accessible, you’re quick to fall victim to the ‘compare-and-despair’ syndrome.
According to selfie-queen Kim Kardashian there are 40 deleted selfies for every selfie that actually makes it to social media. Last year England encountered it’s first selfie-obsessed patient. Danny Bowman, 19, used to spend 10 hours a day taking about 200 selfies. He quit school, didn’t leave his house for six months, lost 12 kilo to look better for the camera and even became aggressive towards his parents when they tried to make him stop. Eventually Danny overdosed to put a stop to his obsession. Luckily his mum was able to save him in time and is Danny recovering with intensive therapy.
Than there is the smartphone that made digital retouching available for everyone. With free apps you can facetune any blemish or dubbel chin and even make your nose a little smaller. No picture appears online without a flattering filter and as a result digital perfection becomes the standard.
Since when did the thought of being imperfect become so unbearable?
Whoever thinks they aren’t participating in the hype of looking perfect in their perfectly styled snaps is wrong. You see the obsession with being perfect is contagious. If everyone in your circle has a forehead as smooth as a baby’s bum and has lips of the likes of Amanda Lepore, you’re going to want the same. And before you know it you’ll consider these kinds of procedures the same as something simple as getting your eyebrows done.
Since when did the thought of being imperfect become so unbearable? Naturally it’s human to look in the mirror and see some points of improvement. But how do you know your thoughts and behavior are on the verge of entering the danger zone and becoming obsessive?
Dr. Vivian Diller, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist in New York who specializes in women issues, has a handy checklist: if your interpretation of beauty becomes too stiff and specific (for example when you want to look exactly like Adriana Lima or Kylie Jenner); if the voice in your head is nothing but critical; and if your appearance becomes your number one priority.
Maybe it’s best to listen to the wise words of Meryl Streep who isn’t a standard beauty, but who is one of the greatest actresses of her and this generation and who’s awards take up an entire Wikipedia page on their own: ‘For young women, I would say don’t worry so much about your weight. Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird—that’s your strength. Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up. I used to hate my nose. Now I don’t. It’s OK.’