Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Perfection Pretence

I see the constant disgust at the media's promotion of the 'perfect body' via the magic of dieting, exercise and Photoshop. People say it pushes us, as a society, to demand aesthetic perfection from all around us. I think that this is false. It is like the argument that art causes society to become the way it is. The reality is that art is a reflection of the state of society. The only contribution that comes to society from art is to bring society's state out of obscurity into the public's consciousness. Sometimes art is a reflection. Other times, it is a reflection of an ideal or a desire.

Now, it can disputably be called art, no matter how glossy or trashy, but the current media trend to promote the perfect body is a reflection of a desire. Where does that desire come from? Is it the media enforcing an idealistic and carnal notion upon us, whereby we only appreciate the outward appearance of an individual? Or is it because that is what we truly value above all other things?

The natural inclination is for people to say that the media is responsible but I don't think that is true. We reach for that conclusion because we all like to kid ourselves that personality is paramount. That is because we tend to look at our flaws and perceive them above and beyond what most people see. We then hope that everyone else will see past them and see us for the good in us. Of course, since we are largely in the same boat, we do indeed see past the superficial and judge on the content of a person's character, right?

Surveys have suggested otherwise. Attractive people tend to be more successful. They are more likely to be hired for a job and not just in the media. The fact is that if someone is capable and beautiful to boot, we are not going to say no to that. How someone looks has a substantial say in how we esteem them. And when we see something visually stunning, we want to look at it more and more. Much like when we taste something delicious, we want to try more of it. So what happens when we demand more eye candy? Someone supplies it. And we show our gratitude by satisfying their greed.

Our desire for the visually flawless has caused the media, the crude art that it is, to reflect the desire of society. We asked to see it. Now we are paying for our vain binge by having it manifest as a craving to pursue that image ourselves. Our lusting for the pretty is like an addiction and the media has appeared as the crack dealer, a seller that is run by people like us. They take celebrities, who are already stunning, and alter them with endless tweaks that we want, when we apply our natural instincts above our ability to reason. We have established this pretence that they gave Photoshop perfect and that caused the craving. It's not true. We have always wanted it. The only thing that has changed is now we get to sniff line after line and it will take major rehabilitation before society can value someone's soul before their skin.

So don't blame the media. It is our fault. We are the shallow ones. We foolishly think that if we were aesthetically perfect, it would hide our flaws we have inside. It won't because more often than not, the only person who sees those flaws is ourselves. Outer beauty does not make us blind to who we are. It doesn't matter how well the present is wrapped, it is still the same gift contained within. Maybe, rather than vilifying the media, we should seek individual acceptance of who we are. We don't have to be spectacular, special or even noteworthy. We just have to be comfortable in the skin we were given and then we won't crave a false perfection. Rather we will see the beauty in all things, even the flaws and even in ourselves.