The other day, I looked myself in the mirror and thought… what would happen if I liked everything I saw reflected back exactly the way it was?
Well, for one, I’d probably be a happier person. I’m not overly self-conscious, but just like anyone else, I have things about my body that I’d like to change. Without that constant nagging in my head (“my legs are too thick, my nose is too big, I have too much acne…” it gets exhausting sometimes) I’d be free to live without comparing myself to others.
But accepting my body for what it is would affect more than just me. Imagine if everyone looked in the mirror and was satisfied. So many companies would go out of business! Hair removal services, plastic surgery, tanning salons, bleaching creams, dieting pills, hair treatments, cosmetic dermatology… the list goes on. In 2016, Business Insider reported that Americans spent $8 million on plastic surgery alone. So many people are able to make an income off of other people’s insecurities!
After having that mind-blowing thought, I couldn’t decide if making money by “fixing” people was manipulative or helpful.
Honestly, some of the services that help people change something about their bodies have truly good intentions. Sometimes, the reason one might not be 100% happy when they look in the mirror is because they have a medical concern or disability, which can be helped by a plastic surgeon, dermatologists, etc. And those who seek out services to change their bodies purely out of insecurity shouldn’t necessarily be shamed for it, either. Frankly, most people hope to improve themselves in one way or another! It’s human nature.
What concerns me, however, is that companies know that insecurities make more money. Companies and advertising will push specific beauty standards that are often difficult to attain in hopes of attracting more customers. It’s incredibly effective. All it takes is a 30 second ad before a YouTube video to convince someone that something about their body is insufficient, and that they must invest in “fixing” it.
What are we “fixing?” And who are we “fixing” it for? And beyond that, was it even broken? In some cases, people are fixing things for themselves; for their own health and betterment. Yet, so many times, we are convinced that there is something wrong with us by those that don’t really care about our self-improvement, but rather, our wallets.