Why is self-esteem so intertwined with how we think we look?
Poor body image can lead to low self-esteem.
We live in a world that is visually oriented. Sadly, this world can also be visually judgmental at times. It seems that many of our evaluations of others are based on our initial – or first – impressions. These often rely on physical appearance or visual impressions as much as other aspects of a person’s personality or character traits. That’s because we predominantly register information first with our eyes, followed by our other senses.
And first impressions – or more accurately, our first visual assessments – tend to stick with us, as many of us are well aware of.
Beauty: an Individual Perception (yet influenced by innate processes as well as cultural factors)
There are, however, shared cultural and biological brain-based similarities in our perceptions of beauty.
Interestingly, social perceptions of beauty have been significant factors in our social interactions – and social values – since the beginning of recorded time.
What constitutes attractiveness, loveliness or beauty does change constantly; yet in many ways, it sometimes remains the same. Perceptions of beauty often have similarity across cultures and, for faces, often over time. A great smile, large eyes and facial balance and facial symmetry seem to be consistent traits that leave a person being perceived as being attractive. There’s even a ‘golden-ratio’ of facial dimensions (akin to an inverted triangle) that unfortunately reverses as we age.
Beauty and Self Perception Might Change More Frequently for BODY Shape Preferences than for FACIAL Shapes
Preferred Body Shapes/Proportions, Eyebrows and Eye Makeup fashions also vary over time
It does appear that what is considered attractive in terms of facial features are steadier than what is perceived attractive in terms of body shape. Genetically, however, some aspects of body or facial proportions – such as symmetry or asymmetry – register in our brains at subconscious levels that we aren’t even fully conscious of and cannot fully control.
Just think of the current buttocks lift or buttocks augmentation surgery trends, which seemed to happen overnight but actually took decades to fully evolve. The larger-buttocks and curvy hips now being seen as beautiful was largely influenced first by actress Jennifer Lopez, then by the Kardashian family. There were quite a few years between Jennifer Lopez appearing on the Hollywood film scene and the Kardashian family gaining screen cred. Meanwhile, men’s self-image ideals were being influenced by the likes of Hugh Jackman or Brad Pitt sporting washboard abs and on again, off again facial hair.
Very few people actually sport these features or looks, so if you started to compare yourself to these famous celebrities or other models, it’s highly likely you rated yourself as falling short. Which is why you ideally shouldn’t compare yourself to others – not even to close friends or family members, yet alone celebrities.
Yet it’s in our nature to do so, positive or not. It’s part of our emotional makeup to assess where and how we fit in terms of social perceptions of ‘ideals’ – in appearance, careers and other aspects of our lives. If you’re struggling with low self esteem, be sure you get the psychological assistance (counselling) and social support (building friendships and hobbies) that can help.
Social Media increased our propensity to compare ourselves with others – or compete with others (Photo Competitions)
We need to avoid comparisons with others to feel truly happy with ourselves, as there will always be someone who seems better off than we are, and someone who seems worse off than we are.
Social Media Does have Influence and Posting Selfies are Still the Rage (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest)
Even more than the actors and actresses themselves, for example, the social prestige of a certain body shape was largely promoted by social media sharing of images. Again, we’re a highly visual species and although we shouldn’t let other’s influence what WE perceive is beautiful, it is highly unlikely any of us are immune to what we see promoted as being a valuable asset.
Another example of body changes and social perceptions is that, a few centuries ago, the artist Rubens painted pictures of large, pale-skinned women with opulent thighs and well-rounded stomachs as the epitome of beauty.
Then, quite a few decades ago, there was a ‘Twiggy’ era, where being too thin, somewhat androgynous and flat-chested was considered desirable for women and men.
Between those two extremes was the Marilyn Monroe era, where shapely, curvy attributes and a defined waistline were considered the media ideal.
Nowadays, the appearance of curvaceous buttocks, well proportioned breasts and shapely hips on a female – with tan or dark skin rather than pale – or of a strong, masculine chest, visible abs and noticeable facial hair for males – seem to have taken centre stage.
Unfortunately, no matter what the current media standards of beauty are, we must all be watchful of the ideals constantly promoted by the fashion houses and publicists who still haven’t cottoned on to the fact that most of us have curves, although not always where we want them.
For positive self-esteem, we must work with what we NATURALLY have – accepting it or enhancing it in the ways we can – rather than trying to fit another person’s version of ideal.
The only ideal we should aim for is our own vision of what we might like to look like. This should be a REALISTIC vision of what we can actually look like – however we get there including surgery or non-surgical options – but not some celebrity-driven ideal.
Be Your Own Evaluator of What’s Considered Beautiful and Learn To Love Your Unique Qualities
If you are considering changing a facial feature or body proportion through surgery, consider Balance and Symmetry
It’s important that if you aim for your own optimal inner and outer beauty – that you AVOID comparing yourself to others – or worse yet – compare yourself to touched-up photographs of perfectly-skinned models. These images might seem inspirational, but only a few people out of the entire population tend to fit what might be considered exceptionally beautiful by the media at any point in time.
This means that nearly everyone else will see themselves as falling short on at least one trait, if they regularly compare themselves to every passing beauty trend or celebrity body meme.
Some people can even develop low self-esteem because they start to believe they don’t meet up to the social standards that others seem to embrace or naturally come by (in reality, many celebrities don’t actually come by their looks naturally).
Others may develop low self-esteem because they feel uncomfortable – or overly self-conscious about – a particular feature or unusually shaped area of their body, perhaps an area that seems disproportionate to the rest of their facial features or overall physique (such as if you have noticeable asymmetry in your breast, or redundant folds of skin after significant weight loss or post-pregnancy).
If YOU find you’re dwelling on something about your appearance, you can either learn to accept it as part of who you are – and embrace it in a healthy way – or aim to change it through surgery, whilst maintaining realistic expectations.
It’s really up to you which avenue you choose. The crucial factor is to remain realistic about what any change efforts can or can’t accomplish. It helps a lot to learn to love yourself for who you are as an entire person, not simply for your appearance traits, and not based on any week or year that hasn’t seemed kind to you.
Keeping perspective is good – but also remember we FEEL our best when we think we LOOK our best and vice versa – whether you get there by your parent’s genes or with the help of plastic or cosmetic surgery
These days, you do have choices about appearance changes.
If something isn’t to your satisfaction, you may be able to change it with a surgical or non-surgical procedure. But be sure that whatever changes you might be considering, you’re wanting these changes for YOU alone – not to please or attract anyone else.
Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery can help you get a better looking nose, more even, uplifted breasts or curvier-cleavage – or help you recover from the body changes that pregnancy and childbirth imparted on your tummy skin, breasts or thighs.
Cosmetic or Plastic Surgery is not a cure all. It may or may not help your self-esteem.
In fact, if you have unrealistic expectations and believe that having surgery will entirely transform your life, you’re apt to be disappointed. If you’re considering surgery, be sure you fully assess your expectations and make sure they’re realistic. Be sure you also ask about potential results and the surgical risks you need to be aware of.
Being realistic means taking into account what body shape or facial features you are starting with, before surgery, and discussing with your Surgeon how these may impact your results AFTER surgery.
Surgery and skin care treatments might help a lot to improve your looks and boost your appearance confidence. However, if you have highly unrealistic expectations, you’ll only be disappointed. Self-Esteem Tips and Beauty Perceptions
The best self-esteem or appearance confidence tip we can give you is:
- Do what you can to improve your looks if this is important to you; but accept that which you can’t change or can’t change drastically.
- If you’re considering cosmetic procedures, assess to what degree of surgery or injections can actually change or improve your face, nose, breast or body – and how close these options can get you to where you want to be in terms of size, shape, symmetry, volume or proportions.
- Then ask yourself, honestly, whether you’re willing to undertake the cosmetic procedure route and if the answer is YES, just be sure to stay grounded about your expectations in terms of potential results.
It is also important to NEVER compare yourself to others, and to know that anyone who has surgery or injections or skin refinement procedures (such as lasers) will have unique results.
No two people are the same, and each surgery, anti-ageing injecting strategy or skin rejuvenating treatment is customised to suit the individual. Sometimes, you’ll need a few treatments to get the results you’re wanting – and you will often need to follow healthy lifestyle choices to facilitate your healing and maintain your results.
When does good body image or bad body image begin?
Awareness of our looks can start at a very young age. Children on the school ground can be harsh, and any physical feature that is unusual will often invite teasing or even cruel bullying. Children call each other names such as ‘big ears’, or ‘bug’s bunny’ if their teeth protrude, and overweight children are often reminded of this through emotionally-injuring jibes.
As a result, body shaming can start really early, and some adults trace their poor self-esteem back to their childhoods, even if they’ve since lost weight or cured their acne.
In many countries, there are also beauty pageants for young girls. From toddler stages, these women are taught that being judged for their looks is normal. Their parents often don’t help during these pageants, encouraging their offspring to compete purely on looks alone. With hair extensions and heavy make-up a normal parts of many of these pageants, it’s little wonder that many females grow up believing that looking anything less than picture-perfect is somehow shameful. But it’s NOT shameful, and it’s natural. You just need to keep your perspective.
There is also a massive rise in cyber-bullying, much of which might seem related to a person’s appearance. The whole situation of comparison with others is what contributes to, and exacerbates, these types of situations.
That doesn’t mean that you should NEVER care about how you look. Because again, feeling you look your best can give you increased confidence AND – when you do look your best – potentially more opportunities and choices in careers or partners.
So in our visually oriented world, it usually isn’t practical or advisable to completely discard any concern for how you look. The key is to strike a healthy balance. Having a healthy balance of self regard often involves healthy self care (exercise and good nutrition) and gaining appearance confidence however you find it – but for yourself, not for others.
Typically, having healthy self-esteem means a balance of positive assessments about your abilities, your ethics, your sense of humour, your friendships and family – AND your appearance and how you think you look. And it does NOT involve comparing yourself to others, especially not to airbrushed models or celebrities.
There is also a lot you CAN do to make the most of your inherited appearance traits and skin – including non-surgical and non-invasive approaches to looking your best. So if having acne is driving you to distraction, or if you hate the appearance of sagging facial skin or shallow cheekbones, or of a flat chest – there are many options you can take to get a natural looking enhancement.
How influential is the media?
The powerful media machines and social media channels are incredibly popular; and they do influence nearly all of us. It’s actually hard to escape from the constant images of airbrushed perfection – and youth – that surround us at every turn. So choose your daily image intake carefully.
Do attractive people have better lives?
If the world didn’t reward those who meet the exacting standards of beauty, perhaps people wouldn’t be as influenced by beauty perceptions. But data does support that attractive individuals have some advantages in their lives. Studies show that physically attractive people often receive preferential treatments, or are perceived by others as being more sociable, more dominant, more healthy, and potentially even more intelligent than less attractive people. This is, as we all know, not necessarily the case; but perceptions and initial impressions can stick even if they’re erroneous.
Those who don’t have the advantage of feeling beautiful can sometimes feel resentful that they have to make more effort to achieve certain rewards. But fortunately, there are a lot more options now to gain the looks you want, if you’re really unhappy with a certain facial feature, skin condition or body part.
Are more people resorting to plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery is constantly growing. Surveys show that a majority of us (usually well over 50%) would change something about the way we look if we could.
But there are many different types of people, and everyone has innate beauty. Try to learn to love yourself for your entire being, and don’t overly focus on your appearance. But if there is something specific about your appearance that you can change, whether that’s reducing aged spots or wrinkles, having surgical treatment such as a breast lift or breast implants to remedy sagging breasts – or getting lip or cheek injections to balance out your facial features and restore lost facial – we’re available to help.
The key thing is that you should ONLY do a cosmetic enhancement procedure for yourself, and keep your expectations realistic. There’s a lot that can be done, but you’ll still want to aim for harmony, balance, and a natural-looking result. And that’s just the type of result our Surgeons and Dermal Clinicians and Injecting Team are known for providing to their patients.
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