To be honest, I was a little bit hesitant about writing this post. Not because I don't like the topic, but because I think that some of my readers might not see the connection between beauty industry and mental health. For me there is a strong connection though, as industries influence our perception of ourselves, therefore our self-esteem and, as a result, our mental health can suffer.
I am a woman, and I love beauty but I also believe in the importance of creating healthy relationship with myself, cultivating self-love and acceptance. In fact it is more important to me than the color of my lipstick. I don't mean to sound judgmental but I think it's good to raise awareness to the issues that I see.
Some people say that nothing and nobody have any power over you unless you let them. I agree with it, as well as I like the idea of personal responsibility, but it doesn't mean, others shouldn't be held accountable for sending out the wrong message. Also, every piece of information that we consume since being children adds up and makes us who we are. Some of us are more vulnerable and susceptible to the messages we receive from the outside world that maybe have a negative impact on us. This post is for everyone who can possibly benefit from it.
Now onto 5 "sins" in no specific order:
1. Beauty industry is all about anti-aging. Of course there are many psychological reasons that cause fear of aging, but a lot of them are society-based. I am glad to see some progress - when older women are praised, even in the beauty industry, but we still have a long way to go.
There is still a lot of age-shaming and nitpicking in the society. And it prevents us from self-acceptance if we pay attention to it. It is also almost impossible not to, if we regularly check social media, read magazines or watch TV.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as recognition and praise of wisdom, inner world and experience of a mature woman. When we get older we lose "value", and we are constantly told this by the beauty industry and by society in general.
The need to fight aging is so deeply ingrained in us, that we recognize it as our own thoughts. We tend to say: I don't want to look old, it is not pretty, etc. But we were not born with these thoughts. Our natural state of being is growing, developing and changing. Those changes can be perceived as a bad or a good thing, depending on where we stand. Questioning those perceptions is important for our well-being, because many of them disrupt our inner peace.
2. Beauty industry is all about promoting certain beauty standards. I do understand that there is such thing as trends in marketing, and those are created for companies to be able to sell more products: seasonal, events-based, etc. But many products are created and promoted in order for us to have a certain look. For example, high cheekbones, fuller lips and brows are trendy. Of course, these trends do not only help companies sell more products, but also plastic surgeons earn more money. And they are based on someone's (not our own) decision that something looks good.
The sad part about it is that many people lose their real features trying to look like "beautiful people". It turns out that many people as a result look almost identical. The more new trends get created, the more unsatisfied we become with our looks. Because if we let it influence us once, why not do it twice, three times, ten times?...
You are not celebrated as YOU. Your uniqueness is not appreciated, which brings me to my next point.
3. Beauty industry sets unrealistic expectations that lead to insecurity, anxiety and depression. Those role models or influencers online look perfect but are they actually perfect? It's not only fake when it comes down to their looks, but also very often to their lives. On the outside everything looks amazing. Why? Because of the products they use! Beauty industry pays those people to show their "best lives" with their products on the backgroud, so it would look more authentic and real, but it can't be further from reality.
I am not saying that there are no happy people in this world, but most certainly nobody's life is perfect. There is no amount of beauty products that can help us solve our life problems. And each one of us has those problems. We can't rely on beauty industry to conceal our inner suffering. It is only a distraction from something we have to focus on. Sometimes distractions are good, but not when they become a center of our lives, not when we spend way too much time and money to correct our "imperfections" instead of noticing that we have a problem with self-esteem, which causes our anxiety.
Beauty industry is so successful because it uses basic emotions such as envy to make us feel bad about ourselves and to push us to search for the solution to "our problem", but the solution does not lie in the beauty store.
4. Beauty industry is about selling products that we often don't need. I used to think I was quite smart and educated about my skincare routine, 5-10 years later I am finding out my holy grail products are not trendy anymore, in fact using them is absolutely unnecessary. All jokes on me. It happens a lot with different kinds of products. And I am sure that many of them are known to be ineffective long before they are announced to be. The reason why they exist is simple - money.
Now, of course buying products that we maybe don't need but simply enjoy using isn't inherently bad, but it becomes a problem, when we are constantly bombarded by messages that this or that product is incredibly effective and we absolutely need it to look good. It is also interesting how with time trends change and more and more products show up on the market. Remember, more doesn't absolutely mean better, especially when it comes down to skincare or makeup.
I understand that no one is going to make you buy anything, and it's up to you to decide. At the end of the day any industry is about making money, and that's how the system works. But I think it's important for us to understand it, and be ok with taking our time and educating ourselves a little bit more on the subject in order to spend less money and time. Realizing that we don't need so many things and adapting more minimalist lifestyle can also help our anxiety.
5. Last but not least. Beauty industry doesn't always solve problems, but it also creates them. Like I mentioned, beauty industry creates trends that are considered to be "cool" to follow. But it also plants insecurities in people. If you are constantly exposed to those messages, it is very easy to fall victim to advertising, there is nothing to feel guilty for.
When I studied marketing in college, we were taught there are two ways to create a product. One is that the product is created in order to solve an already existing problem. And another is that a problem is created first and then comes the product that is going to solve it.
Many times we hear that there is a "problem" with us that we never thought about before. Naturally we take the majority of our "imperfections" just as it is, without focusing on them, especially if many people have the same ones. We don't think we have to change it before we are told it is a problem. It happened with smile wrinkles and freckles for instance. Dark spots due to hyperpigmentation are perceived as a problem, while freckles are not. You get the point.
It's important to take responsibility for our lives and not to blame others for our insecurities. No one is making us buy anything, however knowledge is key. When we mindlessly listen to whatever media is trying to tell us, we may end up trapped in the consumerism and constant frustration with our lives and looks. Makeup and skincare can be a beautiful thing if they are simply a part of our self-care routine, if through makeup we are able to express ourselves and make things a little bit "better" (to our liking) without obsessing over every little thing.
It is important to be mindful about the messages we say "yes" to. Does it make me feel better about myself? Am I still in peace with myself? Do I feel insecure? Do I feel incomplete or like I constantly need to buy or try new things to make me feel better about myself?
If you answered "yes" to some of these questions, the best thing you can do is to abstain from social media and work on your mental health and self-love instead of spending money on something you can't buy - confidence. Perhaps you are following "wrong" people or pay way too much attention to advertising. Maybe you are surrounded by people who constantly bring you down and don't accept you as you are. Look around and notice everything that contributes to your negative thoughts about yourself if you have them. It is not always outside, the main work has to take place in your mind. But outside world majorly contributes to your overall perception of yourself. Learn to recognize it.