The desire to attain youth and beauty is not a new tale; it is a craving for a significant number of people, while for some, it has become an obsession. The external beauty of a person is often the first thing we pay attention to. As the common saying goes, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, it all depends on your own perception of what beauty is. For some, it is skin deep, whereas others see through their hearts- compassion, kindness, confidence and a sense of humor.
Beauty as defined in its most stereotypical form, is the possession of traits making an individual pleasing to the eyes. The term may be used to characterize not only human beings, but also animals, places or objects. Youth, on the other hand, is one of the most desirable traits possessed by human beings. Being the stage of life between one’s childhood years and adulthood, it is the time of life when one’s beauty is considered to be at its peak. Youth and beauty are, therefore, inseparable terms. If youth exists, so does beauty. This is the general belief prevailing all over the world. Therefore, youth and beauty, both are an obsession for people who are conscious about their looks.
History of beauty
The story of beauty and the fascination towards youth and beauty began from the day mankind was created.
In the 15th century, upper-class ladies of northern Europe used to practice painful plucking techniques to pluck their hairline in order to make their foreheads appear higher. They used to tie their hair back using beautiful headdresses. Blond hair was deemed as a symbol of beauty, as well as high class. As a result, both men and women started turning their hair blond.
In the 16th century, Francis I set the trend of short hair, as well as short beards and mustaches for men. This trend appeared by chance when his hair accidentally caught fire. On the other hand, Queen Elizabeth played an instrumental role in setting the female trends for this era. Women started using white powder and used to wear red wigs in order to appear just like their naturally pale and red-haired queen.
During the early 18th century, rich men followed fashion trends by wearing white-powdered, braided wigs tied up with a black bow. Some men wore their own hair in this same braided style. In the early part of the 18th century, high society women had trimmed, crimped or curled heads, powdered and decorated with hair accessories.
The Victorian era experienced strict religious rules, allowing only simple, natural looks without the use of makeup. However, the middle-class and upper-class women did use cosmetics to some extent.
During this century, people reacted against the religious restrictions against beauty enhancement practices of the Victorian Era. Short, wavy or shingled hairstyles started becoming popular among women who were fighting for their liberty.
Beauty or Brains
There is a general belief that beauty does not come with brains. As everybody knows, people crack jokes about models and blonds being beautiful, but dumb. God has created a balance for everything, giving beauty to some and brains to others. So either you have youth and beauty, or wisdom and intelligence. It’s quite rare to have both the qualities existing in a single individual. The thing is, beauty is a temporary trait; with time, it fades away. It remains intact only for those who work in fields where it is a necessity, like modeling and acting. In this case too, they either have to work extremely hard to maintain their beauty, or their beautiful, young looks are fake- an outcome of plastic surgery, perhaps. On the other hand, to live in today’s world you need to have brains, as being smart is more important than being young and beautiful in almost every field of life.
But, for some, the packing is more important that what’s inside. The cover of the book is more important than the book itself. The cast of the movie attracts more than the storyline. It all depends on how you want to see it.
Beauty goes Forgiven
For many people nowadays, youth and beauty are the most precious and valued qualities. For an extraordinary and overwhelming beauty, even the worst deeds and the most heinous crimes are sometimes forgiven. The reason behind it is the association of beauty with the good and ugliness with the evil. Judging a person by his/her outer appearance is not a good, practical way of thinking, as it could be extremely misleading. In order to get to know to a person, we need to peek inside, into his or her soul. That is the right place where the real beauty or ugliness lies.
But, for the societies giving more weight to beauty, this trait can be used to get away from the brutalities of this world. This prejudiced attitude and discriminatory behavior proves how on some occasions, beauty can really mask the ugliness possessed within. .
Lust for Beauty
Nobody would ever understand the power of youth and beauty, until it fades away. The basic reason for this obsession is the war against aging. It is no more considered as a natural phase of life, but as a nightmare, often leading to self-destruction and devastating depression. Recently, sociologists in America have discovered a unique disease called as “affluenza”. The term refers to the stress related disorders developed in the people of America, causing them to constantly spend more and more money on material possessions and so-called self-improvement. For them, this is not for their comfort, but for them to look perfect.
Media: the Main Culprit
In fashion industry‘s view of an ideal woman possessing youth and beauty, a women is beautiful only if she has the perfect figure and is tan, tall and thin with her bones almost sticking out of her body. The top models work very hard by eating very small portions of meals and exercising vigorously in order to look the way they do, but young women normally do not understand how to go about losing weight, so they eventually end up having low self-esteem and related psychological disorders. The first exposure to the desire of looking beautiful by young girls occurs because of their early childhood toy: the Barbie doll. The Barbie doll happens to be tall, thin, tan and beautiful, but actually this kind of appearance is completely impossible to achieve for the real female body.
Measures Taken to Attain Youth and Beauty
With the irresistibly huge number of advertisements in the media, there is no running away from the spell of plastic surgery’s magic. Interest in cosmetic surgeries, including face-lifting, Botox or wrinkle fillers, is growing with every passing day. Women are ready to get sliced without even thinking twice, just because of their craving for youth and beauty. The pressure to go for a surgery is heightened when the media, TV shows and the advertisements show that it is the “beauty” that always wins. During a research in 2002, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimated that nearly 6.9 million cosmetic surgeries were performed in United States. The statistics even show an increasing number of women to be interested in facelifts at a very young age.
Men or women into youth and beauty
It has been confirmed by research studies over and over again that looking young and beautiful is far more important for women than it is for men in order to attract the opposite gender. Men are attracted to youth and beauty more than they are to any other trait, but this is not the same in the case of women. They will take into account non-physical traits, such as status, humor, kindness and confidence in selecting a life partner. During a research conducted in United States in the year 2002, it was estimated that more than one-third of women (36%) and 11 % of men would go for a plastic surgery in an effort to retain their youth. So basically, men focus on enhancing their non-physical traits, while women focus on their looks.
Youth and beauty have been the most desirable, as well as, the most sought-after traits since time immemorial. Be it men, or women, everyone wants to attain and preserve youth and beauty, regardless of one’s age. It is, however, necessary to understand the significance of beauty that lies inside. It is what bestows you with qualities that make you loved by everyone. Youth and beauty perish one day, no matter how much effort people make to maintain them. What remains is the inner beauty- the quality that makes you immortal! Similarly, youth is also just a state of mind. You can stay young for as long as you want, if you are young at heart. It would, therefore, be much better to endeavor in order to enhance your inner beauty and maintain the youth of your heart, instead of obsessing about obtaining physical youth and beauty.