Appearances Fail to Paint Whole Picture

We cannot accept ourselves for exactly who we are and so we gravitate towards unattainable body types, expensive cars and designer clothes.You may have come across one of these on your daily walk to class, and surely you have seen one at an off-campus house party. They resemble something you encounter at malls across the country, yet they're animate. You may have thought what you saw was just a girl wearing an absurd amount of makeup and donning whatever Kate Moss was draped in that week, but it was, in fact, a walking manikin: fake on the outside, fake on the inside.

Aesthetics increase our visual pleasure, yet they do little else. They don't attract guys or girls who care about your personality; they care only about your appearance. Unbeknownst to those who believe looks are everything, catching an eye is not the same as catching a heart.

America's material culture distances us from not only the rest of the world, but from our fellow Americans as well, and more directly, our peers here at Santa Clara. Money worship has more followers in the States than our religions. Part of this snowballing movement toward the lust of things is the fault of corporate America and well-targeted advertising campaigns that succeed in making anorexia and the Uggs/skirt ensemble look sexy. But most of it is the fault of the manikins themselves. They believe, whether they are conscious of it or not, that it's not about who you are, but what you are.

Sigmund Freud's classic work, "Civilization and Its Discontents," helps illustrate what is causing this trend. The book can be summarized in one sentence: The more civilization progresses, the more unhappy we become. As a result of this, we acquire things in an attempt to add value to our lives. As any practical and rational person can see, a practice like this is utterly ridiculous.

The practical and rational person would seek out love, companionship, and the like which yield long-term benefits, rather than shopping sprees which provide a high tantamount to that of a crack addict's. Needless to say, crack addicts experience short-term elation in an attempt to achieve a permanent elation that will always elude them.

Our world today is so enamored with things that we have become blind to what truly matters, mainly other people and our relationships with them. As cliché as that sounds, it holds more water than an $1,800 Louis Vuitton tote.

We gravitate toward expensive cars, designer clothes, and unattainable body types like flies to a lit candle. And while the flies attraction may be fatal, our society's attraction to aesthetics points to perhaps an even greater problem: we cannot accept ourselves exactly how we are. The evidence for this is all around us in the form of breast implants, botox injections and industrial size buckets of makeup splashed upon our friends' faces. No amount of makeup can cover up what someone is lacking inside. As soon as all women- and men- realize this, relationships and our world will have more substance.

Everything has beauty. The key is being able to find it.

By Harry Beckwith

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 10). Appearances Fail to Paint Whole Picture, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: January 14, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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