The Cost of Beauty essay

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The concept of beauty has undergone significant transformation in the modern day society. This is attributed to the fact that there are certain physical, emotional, and psychological traits, which people admire most. This admiration has been found to have a greater alignment towards the aspect of physical traits, especially with regard to the emancipation and formal representation of beauty. Hence, people make daily strives in a bid to achieve these aspects with an aim of looking trendy. I can attest to having been a victim of fulfilling society’s expectations, which consequently led to me developing bulimia. It is therefore important to note that, the result of seeking formal acceptance from society, by looking attractive has led to the causation of psychological disorders such as bulimia, and anorexia nervosa, which in essence serve to represent the cost of beauty.

Society’s expectations have a major effect on the normal developmental cycle, by changing the perspectives people have with their physical looks. As a result, even children at a tender age become obsessed with the factor of beauty. For example, I have a family friend, who’s first born, an 8 year old child, already has adopted strange behavioral characteristics not common at an early age. She cannot even take ice cream on account of becoming fat. It is therefore very evident that impact on the normal developmental cycle is overwhelming even at a very young age.  Slater and Muir (1999) observe that, “developmental thus encompasses not only the roots of behavior in prior maturation, in physical influences, but also the modulations of that behavior by the circumstances of the present” (p.540). Hence, the concept of looking attractive is not entirely a personally driven decision, but an answer to society pressures.

The association with beauty and its elevation in society has created unfair conditions, especially for the female gender, consequently manifesting as psychological disorders. In a research it was observed that girls’ self concepts have a strong association with the perception of attractiveness, hence cultural changes lead to a preoccupation with thinness, which could essentially be bulimic or anorectic, and other pathological associations (Hoffmann et al, 1994). These cultural changes can be primarily associated with society’s expectations with regard to attractiveness, which consequently leads to the causation of such psychological traits and disorders. Society has thereby taken the concept of beauty to such a level that the female gender is predominantly affected, since naturally the aspect of beauty is more associated with females. Moreover, it is important to note the manifestations the understated psychological effects are predominantly associated with the female gender; hence they are ones who bear society’s pains of beauty.

The cultural elements associated with the need to look and feel attractive have led to rising occurrence of eating disorders. Ordinarily, eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia derive their causal factors as a result of psychological changes, which elementally manifest as pathological conditions or psychopathology. Cardwell and Flanagan (2005) further observe that, “It seems clear that cultural attitudes towards physical attractiveness and the pursuit of thinness are relevant to the psychopathology of eating disorders” (p.151). The elements leading to the manifestation of eating disorders have also been found to be connected to the element of individuals using various experimental approaches, without them knowing that this is entirely psychological response mechanism. Cardwell and Flanagan (2005) observe that, “…if an individual starts dieting and loses weight, this leads to increased attention and attractiveness, encouraging further weight control…” (p.152). Hence, the main aim s to suit the description upheld by the society in regard to the notion of beauty.

Society has transformed the element of beauty by turning into an unnatural perspective. This has therefore led to individuals in society practicing unnatural forms of attaining and maintaining beauty. Elementally, beauty is supposed to be represented in its natural form since that is the only time it serves to represent society expectations in a natural manner. In my personal experience, I ended up becoming a victim of bulimia. I could eat large chunks of food only in a bid to attain quickly attain an aspect of maturity, but this only led to devastating effects on my health. I was merely trying to represent society fundamentals in order to fit the definitions given by society of a mature and beautiful person. The very aspect of beauty has therefore fundamentally destroyed people’s perception leading to the wrong framing of people’s minds on the very basic entities that have represented beauty since the medieval times (Graham & Bernard, 2003). The end results are primarily as psychological effects, consequently traditional pursuits and notions of beauty. Therefore, if people were to leave beauty to take its natural shape, the occurrence of psychological effects would be very low and insignificant (Graham & Bernard, 2003). However, in an era of modernity new systems are constantly being designed to provide lasting solutions to problems regarding attractiveness.

Society has embraced attractiveness in such a manner that it has ended up being equated to perfection. Perfection is a dignified human trait as it embodies the attainment of psychological, physical, and emotional traits of an individual. By equating perfection as an element of beauty or attractiveness, this consequently raises the element of beauty beyond reachable limits by humans. Every person desires to be perfect in the ways which they admire. Therefore, natural humans always tend to go out of the ways to achieve the concepts associated with perfection especially with regard to beauty. Since the element of beauty associated with perfection is not an easy aspect to attain, people would therefore tend to make strategic adjustments in their daily life in an effort to reach the ultimate desired goal of beauty (Hendricks, 2003). The element of making adjustments eventually develops into a craving, and with time, without knowing it individuals become psychologically occupied with the daily pursuit, consequently leading to psychological conditions like bulimia and anorexia nervosa. At first, is hard for one to come to terms with the fact that they actually have a psychological condition, but soon the behaviors becomes inherent and elementally part oneself (Hendricks, 2003).

Society needs to significantly restructure its approaches in such a manner that it allows the transition of behaviors through natural approaches as opposed to the adoption of unnatural ways. The fact remains that the element of beauty has been fundamentally turned into a non-achievable aspect due to the high expectations. Everyone wants to be seen as part of a whole entity regardless of what they have to do. Attractiveness is currently a determinative factor in our society hence we all strive to be its embodiment. The manifested effect of our embodiment towards beauty has made us go past our normal, consequently leading to impractical eating habits. Little do we know that these are essentially psychologically driven transformations and not our personal adjustment as it may seem (Hendricks, 2003). This serves to represent the cumulative costs associated with beauty as a critical feature in our personal traits. If humans are ready to waive the costs by adopting dangerous trends then this raises enough concern, especially with regard to the manifested psychological developmental problems.  The pursuit of acceptance and a desire to satisfy society’s expectations are hence the major causes of the resultant psychological effects.

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