Don’t be yourself, be pretty instead

Published: January 9, 2012
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We are merely haggling about the extent to which we are allowed to be fake. PHOTO: REUTERS

One cannot change what society considers beautiful. Neither can one berate it for being attracted to certain physical features, say a fair complexion. We can, however, change ourselves. If there is something about one’s body that nettles him or her consistently, why not change it?

It is inarguable that in an ideal world, inner beauty is more important than physical beauty. However, it should be realised that these two are not inversely related. A good-looking person is not ipso facto a black-hearted, Sauron-esque villain. There’s nothing wrong with being beautiful both inside and out, which is why I bluntly say:

Don’t be yourself, be pretty instead.

Those who have been piqued enough to scroll down and post a seething comment after reading this statement, let me assure you that I say these words for myself too. I am a horizontally-challenged, less-than-attractive guy (that’s the best I can sugar-coat ‘fat and ugly’), and given the opportunity, I wouldn’t mind making use of the wonders of modern science to make a few adjustments to my appearance.

Any person dissatisfied with the visual aspect of his or her being should be encouraged to accept oneself and not feel terribly self-conscious. For years, my friends and family have done the same thing for me. Unfortunately, that ghastly feeling I get whenever I am in a public gathering that I’m not as good-looking as the people around me, has not changed one iota.

Some of us choose to change ourselves so that we feel happy, while others like to torture themselves by pretending that the feeling does not exist.

“Hey, at least I am being natural! And all I really need is my mother’s love.”

The stark opposition to cosmetic surgery and beauty medication can quite often be explained through the cognitive dissonance theory, or the classic ‘grapes are sour’ state of mind.

“I can’t afford a nose job because my dad’s not rich like hers. Hmph! I don’t like this unnatural procedure anyway.”

Another thing that really stands out is the hypocrisy. Would you ever go to your cousin’s valima with an unwashed face in the spirit of looking natural? Does having a make-over or getting your hair styled, even if it’s nothing extravagant, not count as deviating from your ‘natural’ look? If it does, then it is not being fake that troubles us since we are all so in some way. We are merely haggling about the extent to which we are allowed to be fake. Some of us, who are more ambitious about looking pretty and have the resources to get expensive makeovers and surgeries, draw the line a little farther than an average person.

It is one thing to be obsessed with one’s physical beauty to the point where it becomes a serious threat to one’s health or finances, but it is quite different when you spend money to make yourself happy. Keeping this in mind, I repeat:

You don’t have to be yourself all the time. Be whatever you want to be.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.