“Most people tend to believe that attractive men and women are more poised, interesting, sociable, independent, dominant, exciting, sexy, well adjusted, socially skilled, successful, and more masculine (men) and more feminine (women) than unattractive individuals.”
If you think the quote is from some fashion magazine or celebrity supplement of the Times of India, you are utterly mistaken. It is from an academic book, Social Psychology, written by four eminent professors of psychology, Robert A. Baron, et al.
Traditional idealistic views notwithstanding, beauty is very much skin-thin too.
Repeated researches in Social Psychology have established beyond doubt the extensiveness of the assumption that “what is beautiful is good.” The physical charm of a person goes a long way in determining his success in good many a career as well as his or her social interactions. While models, actors, receptionists, TV news readers and many others require a certain degree of physical attractiveness for their very professional success, skin-thin beauty goes a long way in helping almost any person to ascend the ladder of success in the contemporary world simply because “one pervasive factor that influences our initial responses to others is their physical attractiveness,” (Baron, et al). And, more often than not, the first impression is a very lasting impression.
But what is beauty?
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, the old saying instructs us. And that’s very true. If you have observed Rubens’s 17th century painting of the Three Graces you’ll notice that plump, fleshy women were depicted by the painter. If you read the literature of those years, again you’ll notice that plump, fleshy women were considered beautiful.
Why did the concept of beauty change with time? Is it because the commercial culture wanted to sell its items like the treadmill, diet, cosmetics, and other beauty products?
It’s not at all difficult to change the concepts of people. Propaganda of various sorts can do it. Advertisements are just an example. The media like movies play a very important role in this. Katrina Kaif or Kareena Kapoor with their emaciated body must be role models for quite many young girls today.
We live in a world that encourages us to eat food that will make us obese. The same world forces us to perceive the slim as beautiful.
Many industries are thriving, as a result.
Beauty is a business.
Psychology says that 75% of the people don’t think for themselves. They just follow the trends and fashions blindly. Conformity is what matters to them. Conformity means success to them.
They refuse to realise the impact of such conformity on their health as well as their purses!
Let the industry thrive.
This article is prompted by a competition that is held by Indiblogger. “What does real beauty mean to you?” That’s the topic of the competition. It’s sponsored by a cosmetics producer, Dove.
All the researches in psychology and all the cosmetic industry notwithstanding, my personal experience tells me that beauty is not skin-thin. I have seen innumerable persons being loved, esteemed and admired in spite of their not-so-attractive physique. For me, beauty means being what you really are – without masks, without the makeup, without the hair-dye. It doesn’t matter whether you are ‘fair and lovely’ or dark and wild. It doesn’t matter whether you are slim or fleshy. It doesn’t matter whether you are grey-haired or brown-haired. The market-made beauty doesn’t matter at all. It doesn’t last beyond the decade, forget the century. What matters is what you are. What matters is whether you have something worthwhile to say, to do, to give. If you have those qualities, you are beautiful for me. And surely for the human civilisation – even if it will take some time for you and others to perceive that beauty.