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Dating From the Inside Out
Origin and Meaning of Physical Appearance
the past, contemporary culture has been criticized
by the spiritual community, for an omnipresent narcissistic
existence – or, an abundant over-concern with
the projection of attractive, ‘superior’ images
and masks -- which characterize people in some form
of ‘perfect’ state.
supposition that a standard of perfection is actually
attainable by the masses (which it isn’t, not only because
it is generally unrealistic, but also largely genetically
implausible) is also damaging, since it assumes a
level of invulnerability that does not exist, as
the contrary, numerous icons of pop culture, past
and present, have proven that most of those portrayed
as ‘perfect,’ or ‘best,’ for
the most part, are all too human, and often much
further away from any form of super-human aspect,
on any level.
earlier eras, a realistic
conception of beauty, such
as under Plato, determines
that beauty is inherent in
the object itself, containing
an essence prior to and apart
from human interpretation and
reflection. As evidenced by
Socrates’ musing in Plato's Symposium, "What
if man had eyes to see the true beauty -- the divine
beauty, I mean, pure and clear and unalloyed," physical
beauty was treated as an access to higher qualities.
Physical beauty, as it appeared to Plato, seemed more
of an inspirational tool, rather than some ideal to strive
the ages, the concept of beauty has been relative.
With the advent and popularity of subjectivism and
relativism, the attempt by philosophers to provide
a theory of beauty has been virtually abandoned.
seem to live in an increasingly narcissistic culture,
whose value system stems partly from the very images
perpetuated by a consumer-driven society, from which
eras such as the 1980s, seem to have set the gold
most intelligent people realize that the dysfunctions
of narcissistic culture, are, in fact, unworthy of
the attention and authority that they are relegated,
particularly in the media, there still remain a great
number of people who allow themselves to fall victim
to the societal standards that generate the shallow
present society, beauty doesn't sell ideas or religions;
but rather, products and lifestyles. The implications
seem to be that the purpose of beauty has had the
effect of democratizing it in some fashion. ‘’Looking
good’’ is no longer exclusive to Gods and
Goddesses, but accessible to everyday people.
if most people could realize how irrelevant the painfully
familiar images put forth on television and in print
actually are, and that they are simply the symptoms
that demonstrate the breakdown of family and personal
relationships, as well as society overall, perhaps
people would be in a position to cease rendering
them any power in their lives.
at the base of all of it, is what appear to be a
group of self-absorbed individuals, whose inability
to confront and embrace reality is so foreign, that
the very idea of cooperating collectively to negate
social problems such as obsession with physical appearance,
is just too monumental to confront.
have issued studies that have shown how images of
beautiful, impossibly proportioned models, have negatively
affected people's self-esteem. The level of muscularity
and attractiveness that are idealized in our society,
are usually not attainable for the average person.
In contrast, the images of ourselves that we see
in the mirror, can lead to extreme and often unhealthy
actions, such as eating disorders, obsessive exercising,
and diet pill or steroid abuse. In reality, shallowness
can also result in a staggering level of social isolation
some recent attention has sought to dispel some of
the nonsensical standards that have plagued our society,
with regard to physical appearance. Former model,
Tyra Banks, has instituted a regular recurring theme
on her show, called “So
What!” in answer to the near-constant obsession
that girls and women have developed with regard to their
The "culture of muscularity," prominently
displayed in print, film and television, has also affected
many men's self-esteem. In recent studies, researchers
found that watching images of muscular, shirtless men
lifting weights and selling various products, produced
a sobering, depressed and unhappy effect upon men.
designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, last year replaced the
usual rail-thin model, with a much larger young woman,
as the lead down the catwalk to show off his clothing
line in Paris. Choosing to "celebrate diversity," Mr.
Gaultier utilized people of various shapes and sizes,
including a dwarf. However, sadly, it has been reported
that the reaction of the audience largely consisted of
laughter. It would seem that perhaps haute couture, is
not ready for the reality that most females today, do
not resemble “perfect” bone-thin models.
a study published in the Journal
of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers found that after nearly 160
male college students watched various ads for various
products, featuring buff men over 30, more felt depressed
and less satisfied with their own bodies, than men
who saw ads featuring “regular” men.
Dove commercials, in which older women are featured,
is not only an homage to women over the age of 22,
but also, a reminder that models do not represent
womanhood, in any stretch of the imagination. While
many have embraced the Dove advertisements, there
have been reports that they “offend” some
of those individuals who are not comfortable seeing real
women as they truly are. This is most likely, because
of the conditioning as a result of the constant barrage
of physical images, which have permeated into society
as the norm, from media.
least some effort is being made to re-develop society’s sense of what a healthy
specimen of physicality entails. It would, of course,
be wonderful if the rest of the commercial world could
follow suit, however, it appears that it may take a bit
longer to catch up to reality, for the realization that
true beauty, and its value thereof, exists in many forms.
what is the solution to surviving in our society
as we know it – including
the barrage of imagery designed
to serve nothing more than
some unattainable fantasy?
a society, we should attempt to disregard that which
is unhealthy, including unattainable
image standards, while developing
ways to help people create
realistic expectations about
our appearance, and avoid
buying into ideals that are
impossible to attain. That
goal will be more easily
reached, if firstly, as individuals,
we strive to define our own
health standards, while focusing
on developing involvements
with like-minded lifestyles,
through people who have a
mutual connection and understanding
with regard to physical appearance.
In this way, we can more
adequately assign the importance
and relativity of physical
appearance in our society
Physical Appearance Figures in the Dating Arena
Makes Us Physically Unattractive?
S. Davis is a published book author
and writer, currently doing research for a romantic
screenplay she is writing. Her Dating
From The Inside Out column
is published every Tuesday.
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