Isn’t fascinating that some people will do anything to get tanned and thereby even risk their health. While others use hazardous bleaching products to be as fair skinned as they can. Moreover, the definition of beauty for different body types (i.e. curvaceous, athletic, underweight, overweight) varies per continent or even per country. CRAZY right??? In my opinion these variations in definitions of our perception of beauty can have both negative and positive consequences for our self image. The possible negative consequences are kinda obvious (e.g. body- shaming, (mental) health issues, bullying). A more positive way to look at it is that the global variety in definitions and opinions of beauty basically proves that EVERYONE is beautiful. Or, as the ancient Greek philosopher and writer Plato stated: ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’. Personally, if my eye does not catch someone’s beauty at first, this can totally change by the time I get to know this person better. Destructive, manipulative or abusive behavior of people makes them appear uglier to me every time I see them. On the other hand, honest and uplifting behavior of people makes them appear more beautiful to me every time I see them:).
I’m always fascinated by these ‘definitions’ of beauty around different parts of the world and by the different ‘measures’ and ‘values’ that are labeled beautiful, pretty, popular etc. I deliberately use the word labeled because I believe we human beings are all more or less prone to label certain things or even people. I’m sure the ‘culprit’ here is the complexity of how our beautiful brains are wired. Luckily this anatomical mechanism can protect us from getting over-consumed by information in daily life. And so we are programmed to filter certain information in different proportions, depending on our own personal frame of reference. Our frame of reference is developed from our (early) childhood and keeps developing throughout life. I guess this development largely depends on our own journey in life such as our relationships with our parents and siblings. Of course, later on in life our peers and society usually start to play a more pivotal role in our frame of reference.
This brings me to today’s day and age of social media or just the abundance of information provided through the internet. I for one have a love-hate relationship with (researching) information on the internet because I love learning new things just as much as questioning and (over)analyzing things. However, there are certain ‘pitfalls’ of using the internet and social media. I love getting to know (new) people through social media. However, sometimes I can find myself feeling down or even lonely after I read or see something on social media. I guess these feelings usually happen when I compare myself to other people. There’s a huge difference when I feel inspired or encouraged by social media which is healthy for the mind and soul. I think there is a fine line between feeling negative or positive by using social media and these feelings often occur on a subconscious level. At the end of the day we are all responsible for our own space, actions and feelings we choose to spread by social media. So OWN IT!!
I love watching pictures on social media and I have a lot of respect for all the talent, time and effort spent on developing amazing photography. But honestly, some pictures on social media can terrify or just irritate me in a way. I mean, come on, no human being on this earth lacks pores, dimples, wrinkles or other labeled ‘imperfections’ that miraculously are missing in some pictures. In fact, I’m sure the ‘original’ person is 100% more beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I love my own pictures on social media and in my personal albums to be as close to ‘perfect’ . But I draw the line when pictures end up not looking like me. I guess the word I’m looking for is: authenticity. I do realize the grey areas, because who is to say to what degree editing photos is acceptable or not. Most things in life need balance and few things in life are black or white. Looking at the grey areas can make you a happier person and therefore helps the world become a better place:).
There’s this song by Baz Luhrmann: Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen. One of the lyrics is: ‘don’t read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly’. Now mind you this song was from back in 1999 when social media was not even a thing. Now we have so much more we can consume so we have to protect ourselves from getting over-consumed. Social media can be such a beautiful tool for connecting people in the most amazing positive ways. Just use it in a healthy, constructive manner would be my recommendation, in case you needed it ;)…..