michele@mbenza.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are We Image Obsessed?


  The mirror, it seems, has become our worst enemy rather than our best
   friend. Research indicates that at least 80% of women over 18 are
   unhappy with what they see. The main focus of dissatisfaction is the
   size and shape of their bodies, particularly their hips, waists and
   thighs.

   This has led me to think about this matter and air my views in this
   newsletter.

   It does not help that we cannot watch TV, pass billboards, or read
   magazines and newspapers without seeing slender, beautiful people. So
   much so, that we are subconsciously brainwashed into believing this is
   the norm and that we should look like these people too.

   To make matters worse, the majority of celebrities, females in
   particular, almost always look perfect. Not a hair out of place, not a
   wrinkle to be seen and breasts and bottoms fixed where they should be
   rather than heading south, as they tend to do in the rest of us.

   Does this create a negative or positive impact on us ordinary mortals?
   Are we able to differentiate the star from the individual? Are we
   envious?

   It seems so, when you examine the statistics. According to the American
   Society of Plastic Surgeons’ (ASPS), 2011 Statistical Report, there
   were, 307,000 breast augmentations, 182,000 nose reshapings and 182,000
   liposuctions among other cosmetic procedures.

   In 2010, almost 219,000 plastic surgery procedures were performed on
   13-to-19-year-olds. Teens rely on the knife to correct ill-shaped
   noses, protruding ears, too large or too small breasts, too big or too
   flat butts, and so on. Young Asian women go as far as having plastic
   surgery to westernize their appearance.

   Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against plastic surgery. Especially
   for adults who take the time to do in-depth research about their
   surgeon’s history and professionalism and the consequences of their
   proposed surgery.

   To what extent is all this related to our actual physical defects
   rather than the perception of our physical defects? We all have
   imperfections. But the issue is that we believe our defects stand out
   and everybody immediately notices them. Not true. The sad thing is that
   we are our harshest critics.

   How much is the media to blame? In my opinion, a lot. It is the media
   that creates and continues to magnify and exploit the celebrity
   syndrome. Thanks to the media, we have become accustomed to extremely
   rigid and uniform standards of beauty.

   These high standards are simply unrealistic and out of our reach. The
   truth of the matter is that the current median ideal of slenderness for
   women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population.

   Most of us cannot afford to have a personal make-up artist, hair and
   fashion stylist, yoga teacher or Pilates instructor. If we could, we
   too would look fabulous every time we walked out the front door.

   So what to do? Make the mirror your friend! Accept your body for what
   it is, zoom in on what is good and make the most of it.
   A Bientôt,

   Michèle