“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
— Margaret Wolfe Hungerford
This I believe: People in America are predestined to live in a superficial society. In the last thirty years, our country has evolved quite dramatically. People today, have accepted the fact that instead of not judging a book by its cover, it has become socially acceptable to do just that; place physical beauty as a principal quality. Constant reminders of how crucial it is to have perfect abs, be the best, or please everyone; whether they are from TV commercials or magazine ads, only aide in morphing humanity into something it isn’t; superficial.
In a place where acceptance is taught at an early age, you would never imagine that people think twice about destroying their lives with treatments to help achieve perfection. Plastic surgery, liposuction, augmentation, and implants are perfect examples of this so-called perfection. Any time you think you are being negatively judged there is some way, with a little help from a scalpel or needle, to reach superiority. Perfection is publicized as being at least six feet tall, having long beautiful hair, flawless skin, and a twenty-two inch waist. The reality of this is, women are merely five feet and three inches, and waist measurements are thirty-four inches on average. Hardly comparable, media still advertises this extreme as “perfect”, something almost anyone would strive to be.
Other than magazines, commercials, and advertisements, reality television aids in misleading the public about normality. The lesson being taught is that life is about being consumed in appearance, and that it is okay to be shallow. You see perfect examples of this, on shows like Survivor; switching alliances, lying, and being unfaithful are what you have to do in order to win. There is simply no other way to be successful. Another example is Extreme Makeover, where contestants are chosen based on how much “help” they need with their appearance. The person is then changed, and told how to dress, and how to look good. No matter which channel you watch, there will always be some type of better looking, staged, or dramatic change in order to achieve viewer’s attention. Unfortunately, they continue to achieve attention, because people in America are consumed in the idea of idealism.
Whether or not we want to believe it, first impressions make the biggest impact on how others view us. Simply put, if you are not what society views as “gorgeous” or “upper-class”, you tend to be judged with a bit of pessimism. We see this in every day situations. When I get up in the morning, I am faced with an easy decision: what to wear? Instead of leaving my pajama pants on, and throwing a sweatshirt over my head, I slip on a pair of jeans and heels. I do this because I know that wearing pajamas to school would be socially unacceptable. Even though we understand that we are far from perfection, conformity is still a must. We feel the need to be like everyone else, even if that means doing something you don’t necessarily want to. The thought of acceptance counteracts with first instincts, and therefore pushes the idea of being like everyone else as a form of relief from everyday imperfection.
Apparently, the media plays a large role in the lives of everyday people. The constant ideas of perfection and conformity show how apparent superficiality is every single day. By people being forced with this idea, there is little, if no choice to be a realist. Cultures other than American value honesty, reality, and neutrality in their people; Americans value just the opposite. Contradictory, in following years, these ideas will still be forced on people; I don’t think the ways our country makes its judgments will ever be true.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.