I recall how one time, several years ago during a high school class, a student made a remark which prompted my economics teacher to ask the girls in our class why we considered the term “sexy” as a compliment. He was truly perplexed as to why so many girls aspired to be nothing but “sexy”.
“It’s not a very significant compliment, ” he stated theatrically and rather authoritatively, his voice echoing through the class, like that of a well-seasoned orator. “It just means someone is telling you that you are suitable for sex, ” he continued, as the girls listened attentively, their faces marked by quizzical expressions. The boys snickered in the background. “Anything can be suitable for sex. It’s not a compliment. It’s complete and utter objectification of your body,” he finally said before reverting to explaining the laws of demand and supply which he was trying to impart on us before his momentary digression. I though of this brief sermon as rather sanctimonious as he had an infamous reputation for a not-so-subtle wandering eye among the female students. Other than that, I didn’t think much of it.
This memory snippet always comes to mind when I think about society’s current approach to beauty and self-worth. ‘Sexy’ is in. Today, sexiness is revered. Doubtless it is not a new phenomenon. In the past, everyone wanted to be attractive. Today, everyone still wants to be attractive. Beauty seems to have become interchangeable with sexiness. The advent of technology has evolved media communications it has strong influence over our perceptions of beauty. With social media, we follow trends, we aspire to be like others. We aspire to have what they have, constantly comparing ourselves to others. The pressures to conform to societal norms continue to mount. We unconsciously adopt the standards imposed on us by media representations of beauty , all of which are a limited set of conventional perceptions of beauty.
Many people aspire to sexiness — young children too. I can’t help but find it amusing to watch my 10 year-old brother’s female schoolmates lining up to compare their twerking abilities to pass time as they waited for their parents to pick them up. With access to social media, children are sexualised from an earlier age. Many young girls are taught that being sexy is the ultimate achievement. I have noticed that many young ladies rely on nothing but their looks to get what they want in life. The harsh reality is that only a woman with eternal sexiness and youth can pull this off forever. But as long as there is no secret fountain for youth, that is probably the worst thing to do to yourself — placing your entire future into the hands of a temporary state of beauty carried by bountiful youth which will one day fade. How ingenious.
Yes, it is absolutely great to be attractive. We all want that. But to revere people’s looks and treat it like the highest achievement in existence is ridiculous. The reality is that you are just a product of the genetic lottery. Your looks are determined for you before are born. Don’t feel worthless if you are not as sexy as the models you see on the social media. You don’t have to strive to be the sexual conquest in every man’s dreams. Just be beautiful. Just be you. Prettiness, sexiness — they are all just fleeting traits. There are different shades of beauty, profound and immutable. Beauty lies in self-confidence, self-acceptance and being comfortable with oneself. What we see in the media sometimes takes away our self-confidence and deepen insecurities. You are being played. The media reinforces some of these standards and propel our insecurities to make money and rack up profit. The media crafts your desires. That deep-seated insecurity, that fear of being different, that desire to conform is used to add zeros to people’s bank accounts.
Many people base their self-worth on where their looks lie on the beauty spectrum. Society tells you that you are as good as your looks and we continue to reinforce that. The way people treat you is driven by your level of attractiveness. It sucks. But there is more to you than your external appearances. You are not an empty eggshell. Don’t be misled. You are as good as your actions, not your appearance. Prove it with to others. Don’t waste time entertaining people with superficial and simplistic values. They are not worth it. You are worth much more than that. You are different shades of beauty, like an artist’s canvas, or a colourful kaleidoscope. If you don’t believe it, there is at least someone out there who does — me. Embrace it.