Beauty – The Beast

Society has always suffered from beauty. Consider the ancient practices of foot binding in China or the stacked brass coils used to distend the necks of Karen women. No, this is not the next episode of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, but the reality of today’s obsession with perfection.

We live in a cruel era, where everything is based on first impressions. Men and women are being regarded as commodities, where better packaging gets a better response. The result – a young generation which is so captivated by looking good that music and dance lessons have been replaced by salon and spa visits. The quest for beauty doesn’t end here. Teenagers are no longer afraid of the surgeon’s scalpel and are willing to go to any lengths to look groomed. Parents seem to have fallen under the spell as well. They worry that their children will fall behind, not only academically, but aesthetically. Hence mothers can be seen dragging 10 and 11 year olds to parlours and gyms. But the emotional and psychological repercussions of such trends are being ignored. The child is led to believe that good looks are the sole key to success. This hampers self esteem and confidence. Agreed that adolescence is a phase where one becomes conscious of one’s looks but self obsession reveals deeper problems. It may even lead to diseases like depression and anorexia. Character building seems to have been surgically replaced with a 36-24-36.

Anyone aspiring to be a doctor or an engineer is labeled a nerd and to be a part of the “cool crowd” one needs to be perfectly manicured. Nipping and tucking, sucking and suturing, injecting and implanting are the phrases that are “in”. Sadly, it seems more important to be “sexy and hot” rather than “smart and intelligent”. Who is to blame?

The cosmetic industry, which seems to have found a new segment? Or the parents who are so eager to have beautiful kids? The cosmetic industry is experiencing a boom like never before and is in a frenzy to catch them young and create brand loyalty in these “adolescents”, as they prefer to be called. There seems to be no age bar for cosmetic medical treatment. Parents willingly shell out money for these treatments so that their children do not miss out in any way. This seems to be an easy way to please the boyfriends, or to look like a movie star. After all, the book is now judged solely by its cover.

Prerna Saha
Delhi, India