Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Love Yourself

Here I am, spending my evening the same way every student does - procrastinating - when I come across a rather questionable video on my Facebook news feed. It shows a couple of women putting tape around their necks, to pull their skin tighter in an effort to look younger and thinner. I was shocked that women were resorting to ridiculous measures for something that makes hardly any difference to their appearance. For curiosity's sake, I clicked on the video which provided me with the link to the product. Here is the link for anyone who is interested.

The first words I saw were 'sixty is the new sexy.' This disgusted me on so many levels, that I felt compelled to write this post. I was incredibly surprised to see it described as a 'medical grade tape', seeming to suggest that medical professionals would encourage the use of this product. All I can ask, is why on earth would someone use this product, let alone create it.

It is bad enough that there is so much pressure amongst young people regarding their appearance. They are told they have to look a certain way, and if they do not, then they look wrong. Of course this is not the case. As someone who was not happy with her looks at a younger age, I can relate to the desire to improve your appearance. I went to an all girls school, and was constantly surrounded by girls who I deemed prettier than me, and who got attention from boys. At a Year 8 disco, I was told by one of my friends that a boy had referred to me as 'ugly.' From that point, I decided to give up with my appearance, in the hope that I would grow out of it. I'm not sure if I did, or I learned to love how I look, but now I am happy with my appearance, and do not care if other people are not.

There is always that idea that you have to look good to be attractive and get attention from others. I am not going to lie, being asked out a few times towards the beginning of university did give me a confidence boost in regards to appearance. For some reason, my logic was that by liking me, they must find me attractive, and therefore my looks must not be that bad. Yet, this was one of the reasons I did not want to date any of them. I didn't want someone to like me straight away based on my looks, I wanted them to like me after they'd got to know me, and my personality. Luckily, I have found such a person. I know he appreciates my looks, but I also know that he wouldn't care if my looks changed. I could shave my hair off, I could dye my skin purple, and I know he'd still love me. I wouldn't care about my appearance either, because I know that he and others love me for who I am rather than how I look. Thankfully, now I do too. I am thankful to that boy who called me 'ugly,' as because of that, I realised I had a cracking personality and that was worth way more than a pretty face. As long as I appreciate myself, that is all that matters. I do still dress up and wear make up when I go out, but I do it for me, not for anyone else.

It is despicable that society, possibly even medical professionals, are encouraging women to change their appearance. In the case of this product, it goes beyond outrageous. They are sending the message that the natural process of ageing should be stopped, and that it makes you unattractive. Whilst their selling point may be that it's an alternative to cosmetic surgery, and therefore harmless and a great deal cheaper, it reinforces exactly the same message, but on a more extreme level. According to them, it is not good enough to be yourself, and you should do something as ridiculous as put a bit of tape on your neck to attempt to combat the inevitable force of nature and age. Apparently, everyone should have flawless skin, with no sagging or wrinkles, and they should strive for this appearance at all points in life.

The video of the product in use shows both a younger and older lady using the tape to pull in the skin around her neck. Not only does this emphasise existing pressure on young people to critique their looks, but also creates this pressure amongst older people. Yes, there is the existence of anti-aging products, and people do have cosmetic surgery to reduce wrinkles and saggy skin. But never has attention been so blatantly drawn to these supposed issues of aging. I have always accepted that I will grow old - after all, it is part of life, and it happens to everyone. So why are we being told this is wrong? Why are we prioritising pathetic beauty products and treatments over nature and health? This product should not exist, and the fact that it does, shows just how distorted our society has become.

I will say this in the plainest terms I can. Appearances should not matter. Love yourself for who you are, and not how you look. Everyone is beautiful. Aging is a beautiful process, and we should embrace it, not try to stop it. As a society, we need to change, and the change starts here.

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