Perfect-Blue • 06 Ιούλ 2018
Does Beauty create Jealousy?
Does Beauty create Jealousy?
In recent years, women-on-women jealousy has increasingly spread as a social norm. From Bridget Jones to Bridesmaids, there’s a popular expectation that women will envy one another’s’ perfect hair, houses and husbands. Clinical hypnotherapist David Samson explains; “Jealousy among women is such a common phenomenon because of insecurities that are implanted when we are young. It is especially common in young females with so much emphasis placed upon body shape, beauty and dieting.
According to psychologists, there seems to be two types of jealous: benign and malicious. “Malicious envy is bitter and biting, driven by a need to make things equal, even if that means tearing another person down. Benign envy, on the other hand, has an aspirational aspect — you think, “If she can do it, maybe I can, too”
David Samson reminds us that it’s pointless to compare ourselves to other people; “Compare and despair… You never really know what’s going on in the other person’s life. She might be beautiful but she may have just lost a baby. Choose to look at the thoughts you are having and see how negative they are. If you think, ‘That woman is so pretty I know my boyfriend would rather be with her’ this is a painful thought and has no evidence. Challenge the thought and start to look for others that are more positive, such as ‘That woman is very beautiful but my boyfriend is here with me’.
Blogger Louisa Leontiades says she welcomes feelings of jealousy and uses them to resolve her deeper anxieties. “Jealousy is a symptom of an underlying issue of your own insecurity and fear. The question is of what?” She continues: “Isn’t it a pity that in our society, jealousy – such a wonderful red flag – is suppressed or worse validated.” These are indeed interesting thoughts, that provoke further debate. Could jealousy be used in a beneficial manner by providing us with an objective and direct tool for carrying out self-criticism?
Then, there is the opposite side of the coin. One that relies on more action, and less pondering. Renee Wade, founder of The Feminine Woman, provides her own advice; “If you find yourself in a situation in which you are surrounded by oppressive women who you can sense are not only talking about you behind your back, but actively do things behind your back to bring you down, it’s time to take action. One way in which one can deal with jealousy is by befriending the jealous woman and lead her to feel more confident in herself, and being more giving to her. Giving her reasons to feel loved and accepted. That will bring out a different side to her. And, you can show other women who are less confident that they can have, and deserve to have everything that they want and need. However, there are times when women just don’t want to change or feel truly great about themselves. In these cases, you’ve just got to do some serious ‘pattern-breaking’; breaking of their patterns and habits! “
Is our Society becoming too Selfie-sh?
Recently, the American Psychiatric Association actually confirmed that taking selfies is a mental disorder, going as far as to term the condition selfitis. The APA has defined it as: “the obsessive-compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy”, and has categorized it into three levels: borderline, acute, and chronic.
How extreme is your selfitis? If you find yourself taking up to three selfies a day but not posting them on social media, consider yourself borderline. If you’re posting at least three images of yourself a day, that’s acute. Lastly, if you’re experiencing an uncontrollable urge to take and post up to six photos a day, well then you have chronic selfitis.
It is fair to say that we live in a society that is provoked into an infinite pursuit of superficial perfection that can realistically never be attained. In a world where people are addicted to social media, consumption and plastic surgery, we now live at the verge of insanity, if not well over it. The great danger is that such behaviour feeds directly into our brain’s reward circuit, in the very same manner that other substances do, such as food, sex and drugs. It is then quite obvious that constantly engaging into posting self-images on social media and expecting to receive an istant ‘Like’ reward is no different from hijacking our body’s own natural reward systems, creating never-ending, and more precisely, impossible to satisfy feedback loops. Could you ever delete your social media account? The share prices of the biggest companies in the field certainly indicate that you couldn’t.
The solution? Psychiatrists advise minimizing exposure to the addiction and breaking down the dependence on it. What may be called for is a reality check to do away with digital narcissism – to live with social media rather than living through social media. Speaking on the selfie craze, Benedict Cumberbatch summarizes it well in his comments to Business Standard, “What a tragic waste of engagement. Enjoy the moment. Do something more worthwhile with your time, anything. Stare out the window and think about life”. So if you find yourself snapping away and capturing life through the lens of your camera, add a new perspective. Work to minimize your social media presence, take in the best of life’s moments without the need to seek approval or commentary from others. Live your own life – don’t live before the eyes of others.
Is that really You in the Mirror?
As obvious as it may sound, it still remains intriguing that when people think they see themselves, they are always seeing themselves reflected backwards. However, the backward images and person we see in a mirror is profoundly different from what is real. The backwardness distorts not just our features, but the information in our faces and personalities as well. It is therefore no wonder we see ourselves differently than others see us or how we look in photos. Recently, with cameras and video, we can get a sense of what we look like forwards, but it is a static or non-eye to eye view.
Part of the problem is because our faces are asymmetrical. The left and right side of your face may not seem that different but duplicating each side of a face can create strikingly different versions of the same person. This technique is in fact sometimes used by plastic surgeons to emphasise any pre-operative facial asymmetries present, in order to help managing expectations about the outcome of a procedure.
According to the mere-exposure hypothesis, people prefer what they see and encounter most often. In terms of self-perception, this means that people prefer their mirror images to their true images, which are what other people see. Experiments conducted at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1977 support this idea: When presented with photos of their true image and their mirror image, participants preferred their mirror image while friends and romantic partners preferred their true image.
First patented in 1887, the idea of a true image mirror is simple; hold two mirrors at exactly 90 degrees and look into the angle. Such mirrors, like the True Mirror®, present a non-distorted, seamless image – critical for seeing ourselves as we really are.
Does Beauty give you an Advantage in Life?
In many situations we automatically defer to beauty, assuming that along with beauty come all sorts of other positive characteristics. We have a tendency to think beautiful people are funnier, friendlier, more intelligent, more exciting, in possession of better social skills, are sexually warmer, and even more interesting. These sorts of judgements have been tested over-and-over again in the laboratory and elsewhere. This is a great example of the so-called ‘hallo-effect’, when global evaluations about a person spread over into our judgements about their specific traits.
Facial symmetry, considered the trademark of beauty, can be perceived as a sign of health, even if it is not related to actual health. In an Australian study, researchers morphed photographs of young adults so that their faces were perfectly symmetrical. In general, the symmetric version of each face — both male and female — received higher health ratings than the normal image. Individuals with asymmetric faces were perceived as unhealthy.
At work attractive people can receive all kinds of benefits. First of all they may get higher starting salaries, perhaps because their qualifications are perceived as more solid and their potential as greater. Then, later on, they may have an advantage in promotions. In a study of nearly 300 Dutch advertising agencies, it was found that firms with better-looking executives had higher revenues. Overall productivity, and resulting sales, were greater in companies with more attractive managers, partly because firms with more attractive workers have the competitive advantage when client interactions are involved.
Good-looking people can use their sex appeal to command attention and to get ahead, say in a job interview or when asking for a promotion. Attractive people are more persuasive, in part, because they also possess or develop key personality traits — like intelligence and strong social skills — that make them more effective communicators. Researchers also found that compared to unattractive speakers, attractive speakers were much more fluent talkers.
Beautiful people seem to have the upper-hand in politics too, according to a study in Finland, which found that both male and female political candidates who look better than their competitors are more successful. A better individual beauty score was associated with an increase of 20% in the number of votes for the average non-incumbent parliamentary candidate. Perceived competence and trustworthiness had less of an effect. The study authors suggest that voters favour good-looking candidates because they enjoy watching them and they fare better in social situations.
Lastly, it remains an unfortunate truth that beautiful people are typically treated better by others. In a study from Harvard University, researchers found that wearing makeup, shown to enhance a woman’s attractiveness, boosted people’s perceptions of that subject’s competence, likability, attractiveness, and trustworthiness.
Does hiding Cosmetic Surgery count as 'cheating'?
Would you ever consider getting a procedure done without telling your partner? If you wouldn’t, you’re not alone! Along with an increase in plastic surgery procedures comes a new type of cheating. More women, and men, are having procedures done and are telling no one about it. Here, we discuss this emerging behaviour in the context of an already established couple relationship.
The statistics on cosmetic surgery generally are very clear. Professional associations record careful data and demonstrate that all kinds of youth-enhancing procedures are on the rise. What is less clear is how many patients are hiding their surgeries from everyone in their lives. Anecdotal evidence and small surveys show that this number is also rising. Evidence shows that one-third of patients are opting to hide their surgeries from other people, including their partner.
One could reasonably argue that this practice represents a new kind of infidelity. The cheating begins with money. Many patients report that they don’t want their partners to know how much money they are spending on elective surgeries. They worry that their spouses won’t approve, so they use cash or a combination of credit cards and cash to hide the total amount. Or, they spread the expense out over several credit cards to fool a spouse.
Aside from the financial issue, it’s difficult to gauge why people would want to hide their surgical procedures. Some may be afraid of disapproval, aside from the cost. Women are more sensitive to appearance as they age and many men fail to understand the importance of looking youthful. Some women may think that plastic surgery will prevent their spouse from cheating, but want to keep the details of maintaining youthfulness a secret.
So how do people hide surgeries from an intimate partner? Some wait for their partners to travel for work, e.g. a long business trip. A big procedure requires time from which to recover, and travel can be the perfect way for a woman to get her work done, recover and have her husband be none the wiser. Others only go so far as to hide minor procedures, such as Botox injections or minor liposuction. Many women report that their husbands fail to notice small changes.
Is secret plastic surgery then cheating? Not in the traditional sense, but many people would feel that it is wrong to keep such an important secret. Changing your appearance without informing your partner is indeed a big deal. Small secrets in a relationship are normal, but hiding surgical procedures is certainly not. If one chooses to go down this path, it would be wise to first carefully consider all implications, in the event that the truth does come out in the end.
Of course, the idea of using plastic surgery as a means to secretly change ones’ looks is not limited to the context of a mature partnership or relationship. It is well encountered among younger people that seek new partners or generally aspire to changing how others in the society perceive them, based on their external appearance. In this context, ‘cheating’ with cosmetic surgery may even be more hotly debated, partly due to the fact that new friendships and relationships are built on secrets. However, as the taboos surrounding plastic surgical gradually fade away in our society, so do the stigmas associated with it. It is then not unimaginable to think that a time will come when having cosmetic procedures will be considered and accepted as fully normal behaviour. And that openly talking about it will not only be unimportant or trivial, but also boring. This would surely enhance the grey nature of the debate, in case there is still one around.