Disbelief; the initial feeling that overtook me when I saw the reactions people had to Alicia Keys not wearing makeup to the VMAs.  Followed by disgust and then anger, I tried to comprehend when and how our society had become this superficial.
 image via google search
The concept of beauty seems to have become one-dimensional, which is not only sad, but worrying and at times verging on disturbing.  We are made to believe that we need to look one way in order to be perceived as beautiful or attractive, which can lead to a wave of self-esteem issues and unhealthy thoughts regarding our appearance.
If we followed the media influence or pressure from our peers, then we’d be a wave of clones, emulating the concept of beauty that is a slim physique, light skin or whatever the current trend happens to be.  Apparently, that now also means wearing at least some type of makeup.
Personally, I am not a fan of makeup and I’ve only applied it to go out on about three occasions, so I guess I’m instantly on the far end of the beauty spectrum if I was to go by society’s standards.  Like Alicia Keys, I’m not afraid to go out in my natural state, whatever the occasion, but this is not the case for everyone else.
Individuals are becoming more and more preoccupied by their appearance, especially with the constant images presented to them media and attacks that come from others on social media, which we spend so much of our lives immersed in.  If the social media attacks were directed at someone less self-assured than Alicia Keys, imagine the negative effect those words may have had on them.
Poisonous words coupled with self-esteem issues can lead to a flock of other problems – it’s not surprising to see that there has been an increase in mental health problems, particularly among young girls.  Low self-esteem can eventually manifest into depression and self-harm, which also includes eating disorders and unnecessarily exercising. 
This makes accepting everyone’s individual beauty or expression of beauty all the more important, because every individual should feel comfortable in their own skin – there is no way that children as young as three should ‘worry about being fat or ugly’.  Perhaps it’s time for us to step back and stop being so superficial, because this can’t be the kind of world we really want to live in.
By Shaniqua Benjamin


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