When Beauty Means Anxiety

The thing about beauty is that it doesn’t actually give its owner much.

It is aesthetically pleasing to others – observers who get to take pleasure in your looks and physique. However, you – the carrier of this attractive physique – don’t have anything left to do after the hours of primping and painting, but to be looked upon.

Hollywood films, magazines, and music videos seduce us with the idea that physical beauty is a one-way ticket to life fulfillment – happiness, wealth, love, romance, exciting adventures, sex, you name it. For men, the equivalent of this physical beauty is wealth (which is still a leg up from beauty, as it allows for self-sufficiency and the owners have control over it.) If you are anything like me, you have been completely duped. After 5 years of resorting a chunk of my schedule to anxiety-ridden waxing, hair-frying, face-painting, belly-sucking, and posing, I realized that I had forgotten to actually enjoy life.

In other words, I ended up spending a lot of my time and energy on making a model out of myself instead of actually doing things that made me happy, rich, loved, and fun.

The amount of time you spend on your looks has diminishing returns. Getting dressed up and looking clean is fun and refreshing. Worrying too much about every single strand of hair and lump in your dress leads to excessive cognitive stress.

The entire world is not a glamour industry. Rewards are not always proportional to your attractiveness. Even within the glamour industry, do you think the actresses, supermodels, and singers – outside of the finished products – are all perpetually content and fulfilled? It is only up to us to guess whether they are all in happy, well-functioning relationships, and if they are confident 100% of the time.

I have spent copious amounts of time getting ready for dates that didn’t lead to second dates, or interviews that didn’t lead to follow-up interviews. I have been in relationships that crashed and burned, and in hook-ups that resulted in humiliating gossip.

Beauty itself doesn’t actually give you the respect and approval you want.

Whether or not people find you beautiful is a catch-22. If you are not considered beautiful, people will shame you for it. If you are, you will be considered shallow, dumb, unambitious, and high-maintenance. Whatever approval you do have will be snatched from you the minute you turn 35, or when another “ten” comes along. People who are envious of your beauty will try to punish you for it by depriving you of other rewards – social approval, emotional support, acceptance, a good reputation, success. Suitors who value your looks too much will be insecure and possessive, and try to control you and keep you in line. And the end of the day, it’s two sides of the same coin. People tell you your value lies in what you are, and not who you are or what you do. The love you get for your beauty only goes skin-deep.

What I have come to realize is that, beauty doesn’t do much for me, and I thus have come to value my looks accordingly. Whether or not others approve of my looks has nothing to do with me. Naturally, I will spend more time to be aesthetically pleasing to my date than to others. I will play up my sex appeal for my lover, and my professional cleanliness for my co-workers. However, achieving these things doesn’t actually make ME happy. What makes ME happy is reading, learning my favorite subjects, successfully solving a math problem, playing the piano, watching the sunset, listening to music, eating healthy, dancing, making my nephews laugh, giving my boyfriend a hug, making tea for my parents, and the list can go on. I deserve what actually makes ME happy. You, too, deserve to be happy.

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