It’s all around us, and it’s been eroding at our self-esteem for quite awhile now. We’re becoming increasingly more concerned about our appearances. This isn’t limited to just one gender either; both males and females are becoming more self-conscious and insecure about their appearances.
A 2011 study conducted by InSites Consulting concluded that 88 percent of females and 73 percent of males, ages 15 to 25, would change something about their body if it were feasible. One’s physical appearance is, of course, of paramount importance, but the other statistics are fairly alarming. About 15 percent of that age group would consider plastic surgery as a means to improve themselves. The idea of self-improvement for the sake of looking better has been prevalent for some time, but our generation is seemingly consumed by it.
“The current generation of youth is often referred to by scientists as the most narcissistic group ever,” said Joeri Van den Bergh, Generation Y expert at InSites Consulting and author of the book How Cool Brands Stay Hot.
Who’s to blame for this behavior? Well, that’s a loaded question, but Van den Bergh has an answer. “It is not surprising that looking good is so important. But this definitely is not only valid for youngsters. … Just think of the increased importance of product and packaging design, or of the increased care given to interior design,” Van den Bergh said.
Van den Bergh is correct in noting that businesses appeal to our insecurities and our desire to become more attractive. For example, “Company X” will promote its product with an attractive person or celebrity using or advocating the product.
By now, we know that the people on the cover of fashion magazines are enhanced, and it is an unrealistic representation of beauty. However, this trend has not let up, and it continues to be a pervasive issue. Even if we know that it is unrealistic, the people shown on the covers of magazines or on TV are forced down our throats, and it’s constantly a battle against reality.
Additionally, there is pressure to look sharp for an interview or anything else where you may be judged on first impression. For example, Rice University professor Mikki Hebl conducted a study that concluded people who have skin blemishes are less likely to get jobs than those who do not. With statistics and advertisements staring back at us all the time, it is understandable that we may very well be the most narcissistic generation.
So we have the statistics, we’ve identified the issue and we know the potential reasons behind the issue, but what is the solution? If it were so easy to just ignore the ads, then there wouldn’t be much of a problem. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are small measures you can do in order to feel better about yourself without undergoing a complete overhaul of your appearance.
According to self-improvement website pickthebrain.com, there are numerous things you can do to feel more confident without doing much to change your appearance. Maybe you’ve been nagged by your parents for years, but good posture is listed as one of the most important things you can do to feel better about your appearance. Speaking up and contributing to conversations is another alternative method to getting noticed as well. Believe it or not, complimenting others is also a way to build self-confidence. It breaks the cycle of negativity, and by looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t try to look your best, but oftentimes the measures we go to in order to achieve a higher level of attractiveness are just overkill.