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Body Image Obsession

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Confucius said “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it” referring to beauty as a conceptual measure of a person’s soul (Duthel 11). In her poem Narrow Way, Anne Bronte emphasized that only by looking through, despise the atrocity of the looks, one can perceive the perfection of inner beauty: “But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose” (459). Beauty is multidimensional, multi-level and abstract, and can relate to mostly anything. But in order to keep the balance one has to constantly make investments for gaining acceptance. The recognition of the beauty portrays individual judgment of physical and inner traits of admiration, based on one’s system of values, and empowers the individual by praising significance. Despite the generic discernment and representation of beauty, some people cherish the physical attractiveness over inner features. Even though the term beauty is applied to describe the physical, it holds different meanings and illuminates different aspects depending on the person.

Image has always been extremely important for the individuals all over the world. Celebrities, such as singers and actors, are setting an example through their looks, and affect the young people to follow them. Nonetheless, celebrities do not always look as we perceive them on media. Baker writes “The media sets up impossible comparisons. Whether you're watching sitcoms or music videos or looking through magazines, the images you're seeing are airbrushed and enhanced”, emphasizing that no one is perfect (2005). Emphasizing the visual effects, such as good lighting, different surgeries, physical trainings, constant diets and ofcourse visual aid programs which help to alter the appearance, the author tries to explainthe irrational striving for perfection to look “just like her”. Beauty is average, and the resort that the individuals go to is sometimes illogical and requires psychological assistance. Further are described three popular aspects of enhancing the looks which sometimes go overboard to extreme.

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It is believed that physically beautiful people have more successful and happier lives than those, who were not gifted by nature. The reason is that attractive people do not feel pressure from the peers and thus, they are happier and more confident, as a result more compatible and successful, when at the same time unattractive ones are more self-aware. The article The Ugliness ProblemStarts with the words “Is it irrational to discriminate against the appearance-challenged? Not entirely”, discusses the issue of discrimination against those who have problematic appearance (Seligman 2005). The author describes the facts that had been illuminated from the previous research done on this topic. According to the results, not only random people tend to discriminate each other based on appearance, but even “less attractive children are discriminated against by their own parents” (Seligman 2005). Seligman (2005) assures that for many occupations the looks are crucial for quality performance. In addition, the logic of an individual designates that “beauty and intelligence might come in the same package”, explained as the Rothschild effect discovered by a Harvard psychologist in the 18th century. For less attractive people it is difficult to compete with the standards of beauty.

Solutions for the problem of physical attractiveness

However, today having unattractive or defective appearance is no longer a problem. The world of beauty and fitness has been revolutionized with the introduction of plastic surgery miracles. Recently, people have been resorting to such measures in some extreme cases resulting from catastrophes or severe traumas. Therefore, unattractive people try to attain beauty by taking part in reality shows, such as extreme makeovers, where they get plastic and dental surgeries, and new wardrobe, which, according to the surveys, increases their self-satisfaction and boost their self-esteem. Most famous people, who pursue philosophically fulfilled and creatively interesting path, suffer through their lives from lack of acceptance by their society, and are recognized as outstanding only after death. Nowadays, not only unattractive people resort to plastic surgery to improve their appearance in order to somehow develop the sense of belonging to the group. Singer (2005) writes: “December has always been a busy month for plastic surgeons, whose schedules fill with patients seeking a little streamlining before the holiday party season or in advance of body-baring beach vacations.” On one hand, it is great, knowing that there is a solution for people who feel insecure about their appearance for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, there is a growing concern on moral and psychological aspects of this issue. According to the article, some professionals suggest that at often times the individuals resort to plastic surgery being pressured by their environment, as well as the result of such “gift” as surgery can result in changing group dynamics within the individual’s circles. Another concern is that the resort to plastic surgery can become a serious psychological addiction. Singer (2005) writes ''Cosmetic surgery has slipped so far away from the realm of serious medicine that buying it seems as trivial as purchasing a garment or a hairdo”. As stated, due to the low self-esteem the individuals dislike their self even after the surgery. In such a way, they continue to have more and more new surgeries one after another.

Another popular solution for the problem of physical attractiveness is fitness and sports. Being motivated to get up earlier each morning in order to go for a run, or taking yoga classes is not only good for the body, but also affects the psycho-emotional state in a positive way. Although, excessive exercises can lead to less favorable consequences as well. Clark discusses a newly appeared syndrome related to excessive exercise under the name “muscle dysmorphia”. This growing in quantity psychological pathology makes the weightlifters think negatively about their body image is exposed in “building muscles manifests in excessive weight lifting (spending four plus hours a day at the power gym,) excessive attention to diet (consuming protein shakes on a rigid schedule,) excessive time spent "body-checking" (looking in mirrors, CDs, window reflections, etc.,) excessive weighing of themselves (10 to 20 times per day,) too little time spent with family and friends (but who'd want to be with a wimp, anyway???) and not uncommonly, use of anabolic steroids”. They feel that what they do is not enough. These people pursue such life style as they try to approach the ideal bodyimage from their point of view. According to the logic of such individuals they are working on a body that they want to have, which as they see is the ideal for their age and is preferred by the opposite sex. As a result, such views are distorted and are non-normative, representing the psychological dysfunction.

After all, beauty is a worthy gift, which each and every person has. Nonetheless, it is our choice to have it and help it expand, or use it and abuse it. Contemporary society dictates that physical attractiveness is a serious advantage for survival in the jungle of modern social constraints, prejudice and commercial imaging. Nevertheless, no one has cancelled the pleasures of the inner beauty. Physical beauty and inner beauty are interconnected with each other by their purpose to share the beauty through their subjective, empowering media. Today’s world emphasizes the looks as an important aspect. Exercising the extreme ways, physical beauty can become a harmful self-destructive instrument and a merciless weapon of oppression and discrimination, whereas the inner beauty can be enriching source for creative and good way to spread light and glory.

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