Virtues such as talent, smartness, fun-loving spirit, bravery, and kindness are better parameters to identify beauty

We don’t like to admit it, but the mirror is turning out to be our best friend these days, or should we say enemy?

Currently, there is too much hype regarding the latest fashion, perfect bodies and flawless looks. People get self-conscious for the littlest of flaws and spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy fixing it. Even a simple task, such as selecting the outfit for a meeting or a dinner, gets people preoccupied, converting the episode into a mini-drama as they scrutinise themselves in the mirror. Friends actually feel apologetic if they don’t look their best and give explanations for their not-so-perfect appearance on a particular day. Hence, the way people are perceived externally seems to get the topmost priority in people’s minds.

Discussions on appearance-enhancing methods, diets and new shopping venues seem to dominate when people meet. Even young kids are starting to get insecure regarding their looks, as they watch their parents giving extra importance to their image. To maintain a superficial image, people enhance pictures and crop the unflattering parts of their picture before posting it on social media. The bottomline is to not repeat any outfit and always be dressed in attention-garnering clothes, even if this takes away the pleasure of dressing up casually. While being fashionable isn’t a crime, it must be without the pressure to be well-dressed all the time.

Reason for attitude

Most magazines seem to insist on the need to always look your best, and even society has started expecting this. Perfection, glorified by the media, is becoming a benchmark against which we measure ourselves. We are continually trying to enhance our looks and seem to value beauty more than really important qualities in life. There are soaps, creams, doctors, make-up, and slimming centres — all promising to make you look like you just walked out of the television studio. Carefully-targeted propaganda by the industries involved makes us live everyday as if we were in a ‘Miss India’ contest. It’s a little too much when people get greatly upset regarding a simple pimple, or a tan, and change outfits hundreds of times.

Ashna Lahoty, a Delhi-based psychologist, says, “In my opinion, this preoccupation with looking good stems from an interest in showbiz, with society constantly reinforcing it. Some do it merely because society demands it and that’s how they see themselves fitting in. Sometimes it’s compensatory, making up for diffidence, by diverting the attention elsewhere.” This preoccupation, striving for people’s approval, is unhealthy, dramatic and contributes to a significant amount of stress. Though cinema and the media fuel this desire, it’s also a self-created pressure for many. Even celebrities, who are blamed for this preoccupation with good looks, are targeted by tabloids for a slight weight gain or repetition of outfits.

Being groomed and taking care of oneself is important, but an all-consuming preoccupation regarding looks is uncalled for. People are getting so consumed with the way they look, that it affects their self-esteem, budgets and relationships around them. Unless we have our personal groomer constantly with us, there will be days when we look like a mess. However, our personality will shine through even in an average outfit or body, if we rightfully invest on things which matter.

Susie Moore, life coach, New York, says, “It’s a real pity that people don’t focus more on their internal condition, their gifts, their purpose, and their contribution in life — this is real beauty. External beauty is transient. Relationships, careers, and the essence of who we really are, aren’t created or sustained by external beauty. The most beautiful people are honest and uniquely themselves. When we compare ourselves to celebrities, it is a poor use of our precious time.”

Lasting beauty

When there is a concern regarding our image, neither the right shoes nor the perfect lipstick shade can cure it. Physical appearance seems to be a measure of self-worth in today’s times but virtues such as talent, smartness, a fun-loving spirit, bravery, and kindness are more consistent parameters to identify beauty. External beauty has a depreciating value on any given day. Knowledge, individuality and attitude can keep you engaged in a person for the rest of your life. Mastering talents, having new experiences and learning skills is lasting, and enriches the quality of a person, making better use of precious time.

“The preoccupation with looking perfect is a game we can never win — someone will always be thinner, fairer, younger and better-looking. Each individual has a contribution to make in this life, which is special and inimitable. This is what they should focus their time and energy on — fine-tuning and sharing their gift,” adds Moore.

After the initial five minutes, no beauty, brand or designer outfit can hold your attention if a person doesn’t have substance. Hence, have a realistic grasp on your own strengths and weaknesses. Once you have accepted your flaws, no one can use it to their advantage against you. We can look sharp without overdoing it and being too self-conscious. Ultimately, people who don’t try too hard to look perfect, who are comfortable with themselves, and radiate confidence, are the most attractive in a room.