Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Makes You Beautiful?

 

 

WomanWhat makes you beautiful? Some would say it’s the color of your hair or its texture; the color of your eyes, or the subtle hew of your complexion.  Eighty percent of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty.
Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, society has and to continues to formulate the essence of what makes up beauty. Some of society’s ‘norms’ on beauty are dependent on one’s weight, race, and age; girls are affected more by these societal guidelines than boys.  Nine out of 10 girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance; only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.

 A study evaluating self esteem and body weight in adolescent girls, showed strong associations between girls with higher BMIs and increased risk of low self-esteem.  Girls who consider themselves to be over weight have also demonstrated higher risk of depression.  

 Society’s depiction of beauty is also heavily reliant on race, e.g., light, dark, or fair complexion; ‘African’ or ‘European’ features.   It’s these critical self-evaluations that dilute the richness of ones heritage, ones ancestry and the eloquence of someone’s unique characteristics.

 The notion of a ‘youthful look’ has also made the ‘impressionable list’ of ‘accepted’ beauty.  Studies show that women over the age of 50 still feel the pressure of ‘keeping up’ with their appearance, more so than men in the same age bracket. Results from a Dove research study showed that beauty-related pressure increases, and body confidence decreases, as girls and women grow older; 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.

In a world made up so many cultures, history and traditions, a melting pot per se, how can we standardize beauty and how far are we willing to go to fit its ‘suggested’ mold? We are saturated with advertisement, i.e., media, internet, billboards dictating the guideline to beauty.  Since 2012, beauty-related sales increased by 14%, $392 million on revenues from make-up alone.   Nearly half of women in the United States feel that wearing makeup makes them feel in control; 82% of women believe wearing make-up makes them feel more self-confidence, while 86% of women find that wearing makeup improves their self-image.

Luckily, we can, with guided effort and support, seek healthier, more gratifying techniques to relinquish and embrace our beauty.   Experts recommend we focus on techniques that help generate a deeper sense of self-confidence, i.e., focus on what you have NOT on what you don’t, don’t forget to smile, spend some time with yourself, eat healthy nutritious food, work out and practice ‘radical’ acceptance, just to name of a few.  Beauty is beyond the topical surface that society tends to gravitate towards, it is among many things, utter acceptance of oneself.
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                                                                                                                       Lidyvez Mejia

                                                                                                                  Research Assistant
                                                                                              Office of Urban Health Equity, Education & Research


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