We were each born with certain physical features that make us look unique and beautiful, though there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with their appearance, or many feel or do not believe they are attractive enough to land a job, to find a friend, let alone a partner, among other common complaints.
While living in Korea, I have often heard people making comments about individuals, be them friends, acquaintances, or strangers, because they are not considered conventionally attractive. But what does beautiful or attractive exactly mean? Do we all consider the same person beautiful or attractive?
Furthermore, do we even have the right to criticize people’s appearance? In all fairness, if we cannot compliment an individual, we should definitely restrain ourselves from criticizing him or her. No one is perfect in this world. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” a well-known quote everyone seems to know and which first appeared in the book titled Molly Brown written by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in 1878, reminds us of this value.
As known to most, in Korea, an overwhelming percentage of both young and older generations are increasingly interested in and even considering altering one or more of their physical features with which they are discontent, this according to the online article, “Plastic Surgery Boom Reaches Alarming Proportions” in The Chosun Ilbo (11/21/09). In fact, a survey of 810 women from Seoul and the Gyeonggi Province, it was found that 62% have already had at least one surgery and 77.5% have been considering having cosmetic surgery, according to The Korea Times under the ominous title “Cosmetic Surgery a Risky Temptation" (11/21/07).
I consider these statistics quite disturbing since they reveal that the general public in this country has very little confidence in how they look, and when people’s self-esteem is low, it can manifest in many areas of their lives in a negative manner, ultimately leading to irreversible psychological and/or physical repercussions. Overall, I think the general public tends to focus on physical beauty much more than inner beauty. Dissatisfaction with one’s appearance propels the desire to have plastic surgery in order to be accepted/find success in a very competitive society where appearance seems to take priority in every aspect. The cycle continues with self-rejection followed by surgery.
It has been a tradition in the entertainment industry to require actresses to have plastic surgery, so it is no wonder that young people grow up having such distorted images of beauty. When we get older, we will inevitably experience aging in various forms. However, our personality, attitude towards others, and charisma will play a much more important role in all aspects of our lives than our physical beauty. In fact, there are men who chose to marry beautiful women only to regret it later on, according to the article, “Does Beauty Beat Beast for Marriage?” in The Korea Times (2/11/10). According to one of these husbands, his wife had nothing other to offer than her beauty.
I know we all want to impress people, especially since our first impression leaves a lasting one, but we do not need to go under the knife to do that. To me natural beauty is the greatest beauty, but if you prefer to ameliorate your look, some light makeup, a suitable hairdo, and a proper outfit, coupled with a beautiful smile, positive attitude and energy, and kindness will do the trick--will win anyone’s heart. It does not matter how gorgeous a person is if her attitude is unpleasant. If we treat others well/with respect, we will be considered beautiful.
Beauty radiates from within. If a woman is happy, satisfied, and content, she will automatically look very attractive. On the other hand, no amount of makeup and fancy clothes will make a person beautiful if she is unhappy with herself. As well known, a lot of women spend an exorbitant amount of money on beauty supplies, but is that really the solution for looking beautiful? In a competitive world as ours, I understand it is important to look attractive, but it is even more important to be healthy. If we spent more money to build our cells from within, would not that amount to something extraordinary?
Next time you feel your skin is less than perfect, how about eating some fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially the ones that are full of antioxidants. These fresh items will not only make your skin look radiant but will also slow down the aging process according to some experts. Lastly, changing your diet (eating habits), consuming more unprocessed instead of processed food, will ultimately contribute to a healthier body and mind.
Our society’s emphasis on a specific physical appearance is costing us dearly. With only one notion of attractiveness, self-acceptance is at an all-time low creating a population with low self-esteem and values centering on superficialities. True physical health, self-acceptance, and a positive attitude constitute real beauty. Let’s celebrate and embrace true inner beauty with the intention of creating a healthier society.
General English Program (GEP) Center