Body Image

Why People are Obsessed with their Appearance

Michelle Wilkinson's image for:
"Why People are Obsessed with their Appearance"
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Everybody wants to believe that it's really what's inside a person that counts, not what they look like, but it is an inescapable fact that people are judged by their appearance. In your daily life you encounter a lot of different people, most of whom you won't talk to, and so all you have to go by is what they look like. You can't help but formulate an opinion on someone who chooses to wear gothic clothing, has his hair spiked up, and has many tattoos, and this opinion is often informed by your own education, social class, your friends and the society you live in. You are judging others, just as you are being judged, and so it is hardly surprising that some people can become preoccupied with their appearance.

The majority of people want to fit into their surroundings - they don't mind simply blending into the background, as it is preferable to standing out. They will wear 'normal' clothes, have an 'ordinary' haircut and are regarded by others as pretty average, which is just what they want. Other people, though, want to be noticed for being attractive and are prepared to spend large sums of money to purchase good looks if they weren't naturally blessed with them. Cosmetic surgery has increased in popularity over the years, as individuals have decided they want larger breasts, slimmer thighs, a smaller nose, fuller lips, less of a tummy, and a younger face.

Some see their appearance as the best way of achieving fame and fortune, and it is no longer that unusual to hear young girls say that they want to become glamour models when they get older and that they can't wait until they can have a 'boob job'. Before these girls have even fully developed they are thinking about what surgery can do for them, as clearly they are conscious of the value Western society places on good looks, especially if they come with a large bust.

Other individuals already believe themselves to be attractive, having had this confirmed by admiring glances and a number of compliments, but are worried about the ageing process. Surgery is regarded as a way of halting the visible signs of ageing, and sometimes even reversing them. This is a society where the most successful people tend to be young, attractive, and slim, and thus everybody wants to be perceived as being successful, even if they are not. If they can stay looking young, and keep their weight down, people will automatically assume they are in control of their life and are wealthy enough to take good care of themselves.

Living in Western society therefore contributes to people's obsession with their appearance, since we are continually told what constitutes beauty and how important it is, and then being exposed to a multitude of advertisements trying to sell us products and services that can supposedly help us look good. Many people are prepared to believe their claims and buy the items on offer, since nobody wants it to appear as if they don't care at all about their appearance.

More about this author: Michelle Wilkinson

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