What is your definition of beauty?
There could be 6 billion different answers to this question but one thing is clear - Our definition of beauty is shaped by the culture we live in and the answers from people living in the same culture will most likely differ only in terms of phrasing or as a result of different degrees of exposure to the media, knowledge gap, affluence and subcultures.
Now let's look at Singapore. What do we think of whenever someone mentions beauty? We will MOST LIKELY think of a woman with a slim figure, supple breasts, a fair complexion and long hair. This is the result of constant exposure to competing advertisements on slimming, breast enhancement, skin-whitening (not to mention the various makeup ads) and hair-strengthening/split-ends fixing shampoo/rebonding that all promise to "bring out the beauty in you". But all these advertisements alone cannot be held fully responsible for instilling our current idea of beauty. Instead look towards television content - reality tv shows like "The biggest loser", chinese weight-losing programs sponsored by slimming agencies, ethnicity of MTV hosts, casting of characters for local dramas and stereotypes. Couple that with word of mouth and peer pressure and you have a complex interplay of the various factors that reinforces each other and our notion of "beauty".
There has been a rising trend in the media over the past couple of years to cast and star and promote eurasians and with that, the emergence of coloured contacts, hair dyes and what not. This has also worked to shape and redefine our beliefs about beauty. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: "Why can't we be comfortable with our own unique heritage?".
Beauty transcends race, language and religion but most importantly beauty comes from within (cliche as it may sound, it is true). Let's look deeper - What is the underlying reason for us to "pursue" beauty?
I believe it is happiness that we all ultimately seek.
The desire for happiness is what drives us to want to look "beautiful". We have the misconception that if only we were just a little slimmer, if our teeth were just a little straighter, if our complexion were just a little better etc., people will like us more and we would be happier. What many fail to understand is that with this kind of "beauty" comes its own unique set of problems - Stalkers, Jealousy, Guys who just want to get you into bed - and you tend to attract the wrong company. The constant strive for "beauty" and perfection puts undue stress on many and adds to their unhappiness instead (ironic because they are in fact looking for happiness).
I have many friends around me who are like that (unhappy happiness-seekers). I am sure you have them too - Jane who complains that she is fat when in reality she is not, Irene who wants teeth like those of movie stars so that she can have the perfect smile and look good in neoprints. So, I just have this to say to the girls out there - If you want to be happy, you have to accept yourself for who you are. Don't think that "being beautiful" will make you happy. If a guy is being shallow, dump him. He's not worth it. Ultimately, one will come along and love you for who you are, not for how you look and that's THE ONE you are looking for no? Above all, the most important thing is to be true to yourself and be true to others.
We all have the capacity to be beautiful inside.
P.S. In media and communications theory, there are such things as preferred/dominant reading, negotiated reading and oppositional decoding. In layman's terms, 1) the author's intended meaning, 2) a personally adopted meaning by the reader that differs from 1), and 3) meaning that is in direct opposition to 1). Oppositional decoding is usually brought about by selective perception (You only see/think what you want to see/think).
In earlier posts, there were a lot of instances whereby the readers showed through their comments that they have taken to negotiated reading and oppositional decoding (by twisting the intended meaning of the entries) perhaps due to the misunderstanding of the objectives of this site. I hope that people can just take in what they read with an open mind. Just to TRY to pre-empt any oppositional decoding, the intent of this piece is just to inspire - simple as that and there is no hidden meaning. Don't read too much into it.
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