Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

Whether it be someone’s physical beauty or their personality, we all have our own definition of what makes someone beautiful. However, are we as a society, placing too much importance on physical beauty?

Freshman Olivia Zettervall has observed that in this day and age “People don’t please themselves” but rather they attempt to please others. Zettervall’s observation is supported by the National Report on Self-Esteem done in 2016. According to this report, an astounding 98 percent of girls reported feeling an “immense pressure from external sources to look a certain way.”

When questioned if these beauty standards have affected them, sophomore Kiara Baxter candidly responded that “even though I’m told all the time how pretty I am, I just never actually felt it.” Senior Talia Schleifer concurred saying, “What’s hard is that beauty is something you see, and [it is] what people see first so it’s easiest to judge that,” but Schleifer also believes that feeling inadequate is “natural.”

While being a little critical of your own appearance is fine, it is being reported that one in four girls suffers from depression, eating disorders, cutting, and other mental/emotional disorders because of the high standards beauty and the societal pressure placed on them to be beautiful. One respondent, who wishes to remain anonymous has admitted that this pressure to appear beautiful has led to several “major mental disorders.” This is when our feelings of inadequacy become more dangerous. The number of girls suffering emotionally and mentally because of their perceived physical inadequacies should not be this high.

Men also suffer from society’s ridiculous beauty standards. Although women consistently report higher numbers, the number of men dissatisfied with their bodies is growing at a much faster rate. Furthermore, while women struggle with the pressure to be thin, men are expected to be muscular.

While Carter Ward (’21) surely doesn’t suffer from societal pressures declaring that “I’m sexy and I know it,” other men aren’t so fortunate. According to researchers at The Future Laboratory, approximately 78 percent of men wish that “they were more muscular, and one in three would give up a year of their life if they could achieve their ideal body weight and shape.”

Interestingly enough, despite all the problems, a majority of respondents stated that they believed that society places too much importance on beauty but still thought being beautiful was important. The key distinction here is that a majority of respondents felt that society places too much importance on physical beauty and that it is more important to have inner beauty.

So, are we placing too much importance upon physical beauty? Probably. Being concerned about one’s appearance isn’t inherently a bad thing; it’s when beauty becomes an obsession that society’s beauty standards becomes dangerous. We must take care to remember that beauty is subjective. There should be no reason for only four percent of women to think of themselves as beautiful because everyone is beautiful in their own way.