Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Quest for Beauty


The quest for beauty and personalized perfection has been a constant theme throughout history.  Even I the most humble of them all (too much?) let’s my own vanity get in the way, stopping to gaze in a mirror as I pass making sure I don’t have any jam on my face or my hair is in place.  We all have a vain side I suppose but the incidents of extreme vanity are on a precipitous increase.

What used to be only reserved for the few outlying tribes from various countries the practices to attract the opposite sex has become almost mainstream.   Intrigued by the old National Geographic magazines that my parents used to get I would thumb through the photos, I really only read the articles, and look at the bazaar and unusual practices depicted, the half naked women or in some cases the completely naked women and men with scares or tattoos covering their bodies and rings through their noses and ears.

The faces of young men and women with their lips stretched to unbelievable extremes surrounding some kind of plate or object that in their culture spawned some sort of sexual attraction.  The women of Thailand, formally from Burma, Kayan Tribe wrap their necks with rings making them look like they have impossibly long necks.  What happens actually is the collar bones are somewhat displaced pushing them down and making the neck look longer.  Have you ever wondered what would happen if they removed the rings and do they sleep in those things? Not too farfetched perhaps but look at the models we revere and the style of their bodies, their long necks, their long legs their emaciated continence, are we that much different?  

We look at the styles of today and we see the same extremes practiced but in most cases there is no religious or cultural significance only a desire to be different, but in that desire toward uniqueness a commonality emerges and society begins to accept and emulate.

Ear piercing used to be for women and pirates, now it’s for five year old boys whose parents want their child to be “cool”.  Stretched rings extend the lobes to unreal proportions as larger and larger gauges are inserted to supposedly push the boundaries of acceptability.  Nose plugs and rings, eye brow studs and nipple piercing for both men and women are now considered almost normal.  Normal is a word that suggests a majority and that word most definitely fits the use of the Tattoo.

Ancient cultures used to use tattoos as a religious expression to ward off evil spirits and instill “good luck”, San Yak tattoos are still inked in the traditional way using long needles dipped in ink by Buddhist monks and holy men and set deep into the skin to create amazing and intricate work.  Today we have special machines and amazing artist that use the skin as a canvas to show their talents, letting the user showcase that work for evermore.  The incident of tattooing (sounds like a star wars term) is so pervasive it’s hard to find individuals without at least one inked adornment.

Tattoos are not just for colorful expression but have real value to some.  Women who have gone through mastectomies have often opted for a recreation of their areola through colored ink to give the impression of what used to be, giving them a sense of normalcy.  But even that has taken on a bazaar twist with unaffected women and some men opting to expand their natural pigmentation to enhance the area making them seemingly more attractive to the opposite sex.

Butt implants, breast implants, facial reconstruction, not just for those in need, in fact the statistics of “plastic” surgery as an elective  procedure far outweighs the incidents of true reconstruction supporting the overall premise of a vain and self absorbed society.

 A few blogs past I called for a week for women not to wear makeup and thought what a great idea, let women have a week off from all the pressure of having to put on all that stuff and let men have a chance to see women as they really are, it was a complete and utter flop, no one even commented on the plan and I must say I was disappointed but I’m starting to understand that even for a week those women would feel completely exposed, naked and even ashamed to go out in public. 

We spend a considerable amount of money and time to create these illusions of who and what we are.  We alter our faces, cover out skin, expand or minimize our natural features, just so we can look in the mirror and think we look good.  Nothing is really going to change I guess and I was a bit naïve to think that my simple but expanding blog (now over ten thousand readers to date, share with a friend…sorry for the shameless plug) could affect such a dramatic change.

History does teach us about the past and the past suggests that the bazaar generally becomes the accepted.  Those that want to be unique act and plan toward that end with the eventual outcome of creating a new “normal”.  That’s seems to be the case with these increasing self masochistic tendencies. 

I must admit that even I, the humble one has considered a tattoo of sorts from time to time, nothing outrageous, but the trend to join in is a powerful draw to many and that quick view in the mirror has tempted the best of us to follow the crowd but my advice is to stay strong, avoid those temptations, keep your skin free of holes and pictures, enjoy the god given freedom of liking who you are.  A few lip piercings, butterfly on your ankle or a two inch size nose ring will never really change who you are so why bother?