This essay was written by Dimas Kusuma Putra, 1st winner of the annual ESPRESSO discussion event’s essay competition.
“I’m ugly, that’s it.”Unnamed
Imagine if everybody in this world had the same level of beauty; nobody would be beautiful, such that nobody is physically better than you. In reality, the human mind compares every imperfection of themselves and others. In my religion (Islam), God creates human as the most perfect creature of all, they said. As His creation, we must be grateful for this. Meanwhile in reality, society calls less-beautiful people with terms like “ugly” or worse. Some people assert that every country has their own beauty standards; however, the fact is that much of modern society, the definition of beauty can be generalized as its own standardized perspective such as white skin or thick luscious lips. These standards change throughout the years with the uncertainty of human mind. However, this begs the question: What if there’s someone that is not born as good-looking, beautiful, or aesthetically match anyone’s beauty standards?
Society is the problem
Being beautiful has a several clear advantages. It not only raises one’s social class, but also provides other benefits such as increasing employment opportunities. Life really is easier for attractive people. They make more money, get promoted faster, and are generally more successful. One study titled “The Labor Market Return to an Attractive Face: Evidence from a Field Experiment,” shows that in Argentina, attractive people have 36% higher callback rate than unattractive ones, without any variation and qualification 1 López Bóo, F., Rossi, M. and Urzúa, S. (2013). The labor market return to an attractive face: Evidence from a field experiment. Economics Letters, 118(1), pp.170-172. . This study experimented by using the same photos in different resumes, they modified the subjects’ faces digitally to make them less attractive. It means that those who are less attractive have to face more obstacles in their career.
The digital era has been a major catalyst in driving transparency of personal data, especially through social media. As an example, Facebook is seen as the worst social networking site, due to internet trolling and bullying which is now more prevalent online than anywhere else, as one study suggests. Based on a survey by Rimmel London in 2018 called Beauty cyber bullying – expression repression, 23% of young women have been beauty cyber-bullied. However, only 44% of beauty cyberbullied young women formally reported this abuse 2 Rimmel London. (2019). Rimmel London Beauty Cyberbullying Survey. [online] Available at: https://www.cybersmile.org/wp-content/uploads/Rimmel-Beauty-Cyberbullying-Survey.pdf [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019]. . This data could conclude that there are more people that don’t report their cyberbullying experience to the authorities.
Not only by using the digital platform, beauty bullying is also common in the physical world. A famous phrase is commonly used by those who are not physically beautiful enough: “It’s okay if you are not beautiful, at least you have a good heart”. While attempting to console the less-beautiful by overlaying physical attractiveness and good character, it merely amounts to a sugarcoating phrase used by people to increase “ugly” people’s ‘class’, since the degree of beauty of that person never improved. The term of being a good person with an un- aesthetic appearance is something odd that even the society deny its argument regarding beauty. An even more egregious form of abuse takes the form of physical bullying; Recently, several videos went viral on twitter. A boy from the U.S., suffering from autism, is shown being punched and kicked by several kids for no discernible reason. This case is one of the painful truths of how the standards itself can influence human behavior for the worse.
An Instagram model can post a picture of herself in a beautiful dress or a bikini, showing off her abs and holding up a weight loss tea supplement. This picture suggests the misleading message that the supplement is one of their secret to their honed physique. As a result, the pressure to keep up with what we see online has become a morbid cycle which destroys lives one click at a time. As a consequence, many have developed serious mental health issues, identity issues, and even body dysmorphia trying to emulate these unrealistic beauty standards. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, up to 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder 3 National Eating Disorders Association. (2019). Statistics & Research on Eating Disorders. . Worldwide, this figure reaches 70 million sufferers. It happens because people want to be recognized in our society. Those who are already on top are no exception; they also are suffering to maintain their position.
There is a trend, particularly in South Korea, where beautiful public figures are called “idols”. The term itself refers to an image or representation of a god, an object of worship. It is used if someone is so beautiful that they can be compared to gods/goddesses. While seemingly harmless, this phenomenon in fact creates a whole new problem to the uncertainty trends of beauty standards if there’s someone who is beautiful enough to change the trends and be compared with god itself. As their idol, they must act as perfect as gods as well. This means that they cannot do any bad things according to the mindset of their fans. We could take an example from the Korean entertainment industry, where many people died because of the bullying they’ve been taken digitally or directly.
Fan reactions generally depend on a number of factors including: the idols’ popularity, how long they’ve been in the industry, their age, and how they conceal the news. A real case that happened recently, Sully (ex- member of a Korean girlband, F(X)) has been receiving end of nasty comments for years for posting her scandalous relationship with his boyfriend on the internet 4 Koreaboo. (2019). (BREAKING) Sulli Reported To Be Dead, Police Investigating, SM Entertainment Yet To Respond. [online] Available at: https://www.koreaboo.com/news/sulli-reported-dead-police-investigating-truth-reports/ [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019]. . she got many hateful comments such as “Attention seeker” and even worse than that. At the end, she committed suicide by hanging herself. We can see that the lifestyle of an idol is controlled tightly by what the fans want her to be, not by her own will.
Otherwise, Imagine how hard it is to express your
feeling when you feel that you aren’t beautiful enough to publish something
online or even speak up for the essence of beauty standards.
Society has a major role in decision making for which person who could speak up like that and who couldn’t. Even being an altruist person is not enough to change the society to be peaceful. This cycle will repeat and more people will be stressed out in silence with this kind of broken society. This happens and remains the same.
Eventually, beauty standards seem to me as an everlasting cancer to society. It means that the standards changed the perspective of the human being in terms of beauty. The fact that it affects both of the stakeholders; the beauty as well as the beast, so to speak. But we couldn’t change the nature of it. and nobody will ever be willing to hear the cry of the lack of god’s details. If tomorrow women all over the world looked in the mirror and liked what they saw reflected back at them, then the society would have to reshape capitalism as we know it. Ultimately, it will find the whole new concept of the beauty standards, and repeat its cycle as long as people continue to exist exist.
Editor: Miftah Rasheed Amir
Illustrator: M. Daffa Nurfauzan
Referensi [ + ]
|1.||↵||López Bóo, F., Rossi, M. and Urzúa, S. (2013). The labor market return to an attractive face: Evidence from a field experiment. Economics Letters, 118(1), pp.170-172.|
|2.||↵||Rimmel London. (2019). Rimmel London Beauty Cyberbullying Survey. [online] Available at: https://www.cybersmile.org/wp-content/uploads/Rimmel-Beauty-Cyberbullying-Survey.pdf [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019].|
|3.||↵||National Eating Disorders Association. (2019). Statistics & Research on Eating Disorders.|
|4.||↵||Koreaboo. (2019). (BREAKING) Sulli Reported To Be Dead, Police Investigating, SM Entertainment Yet To Respond. [online] Available at: https://www.koreaboo.com/news/sulli-reported-dead-police-investigating-truth-reports/ [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019].|