‘Perfecting’ Oneself: Beauty and Madness

We all have imperfections. I am the best example of a perfectly imperfect person from head to toe. I battled insecurities from the way I look especially my nose, being overweight, acne and bruises and scars due to clumsiness. When I was in high school, it was so bad that I could not look at myself in the mirror and I feel nauseated just seeing any of my pictures. I saw myself as a very ugly person that I thought I was cursed.

Nonetheless, I eventually accepted my flaws. I learned to wear better clothes. I understood the purpose of skincare. I found joy in applying makeup. Actually, I only learned these things for roughly a year now. Regardless of that, I now laugh at my imperfections because I fully accepted them together with my good qualities. It makes me who I am. I am no longer a prisoner of my imperfections.

In less than two weeks, I’ll turn 25 years old. I feel old but at the same time, I feel blessed that I was born earlier in this world. These days, people are so obsessed with what they look like that there are some teenagers asking their parents for plastic surgery as graduation gift. When my brother graduated high school last year, one of his batch mates had undergone plastic surgery before they graduated. Now, it is understandable that such act of going through knife at a very young age is shocking to sub-urban Fairview, Quezon City, Philippines. But in South Korea, it is really very normal for girls to have cosmetic surgery after high school graduation. People there are so obsessed with ‘perfecting themselves’. As proof, kindly examine the image below:

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At first glance, they seem to be a picture of a woman who just wears different hair and clothes. However, believe it or not, they are the contestants of the upcoming Miss Korea 2013. Notice the same small face, refined but soft eyes, impeccable nose and thin lips. The ratio of the distance of the features is so noticeable. Yes, they had undergone plastic surgery according to my source although it is uncertain if all of them went through it. Their similarities are probably not an accident because that face portrays what a “perfect” woman is for the South Koreans.

Yes, I must admit how pretty they all look. If God had made me choose my physical appearance, especially my facial features, I would have really considered this look for myself. If I were born this pretty, I’d take no hesitation and join a beauty contest. But what good is a beauty contest if all contestants look so similar that they look like clones of each other? If everyone on earth looks the same, who could be called beautiful?

If there’s anything I learn in looking at that picture, I realized that “perfection” can really be boring.

Plastic surgery is an ethical issue that is so sensitive to touch. We are born with our own bodies and graced with freewill, we could do anything we want with it. How we treat, dress and accessorize shows our attitude, our feelings and our self-expression to the world. Perhaps, altering parts of our body is also part of our freewill. However, did it occur to you that you are beautiful enough?

I know none of us remember the day we were born. I’m glad I couldn’t. When I was born almost twenty-five years ago, it was a beautiful Sunday morning. Most importantly, it was Mother’s Day. However, before my mother went emotional because of meeting her firstborn a little bit late in her life, she was bothered by my aunts’ nasty comments.

Naku, Angelo…mapapagastos ka niyan. Sapad na sapad ang ilong ng anak mo!

(“Oh no, Angelo [my dad]…you are going to spend so much money [on your daughter]. Her nose is so flat!”)

Wow. Epic welcome. Like, hello…that my first day on this freaking earth! Growing up, I didn’t like my facial features so much but I have this incredible hate for my nose. It is so large and looks flat because of the bulbous tip. When get colds, it looks even more ridiculous because it looks like a tomato due to redness. It is so annoying because the nose is the most conspicuous part of your face because it sits amidst of your face. I really considered having plastic surgery before. I thought that it would be better if I made it look like my mother’s nose because she has this subtle, pointy nose. But now that I’m all grown up, I fully accept the shape of my nose. Actually, I believe that it made my face so distinguishable that people easily recalls what I look like. I now embrace it as part of my uniqueness.

Plastic surgery is becoming more and more prevalent in the world. In fact, before in my country, it is a big scandal when actors and actresses go under the knife. But nowadays, they even explicitly express their gratitude on national television their cosmetic surgeon like Dr. Vicky Belo or Dr. Manny Calayan, who are some of the famous cosmetic surgeons here. I guess in most parts of the world, plastic surgery is really becoming more and more acceptable. Also, in various parts of the world, media and society dictates what is beautiful. In Korea and other parts of Asia, it’s about softening features and putting emphasis on the ratio of the distance of the facial features. In the western world, it’s all about exaggerating on what you have. Girls there want bigger boobs, sharper butts and have those big, luscious Angelina Jolie lips. Truly, what is beautiful in the east is not necessarily what is beautiful in the west. So who is beautiful then?

The problem I see in plastic surgery is once you ‘perfect’ a part of your body, you will go on and ‘perfect’ the other parts. Over and over you can see imperfection on yourself and try to alter those flaws. In the end, you will never be contented on what you have and if you are not contented in life, chances are you will never be truly happy.

I will not judge you if you still chose to undergo cosmetic surgery. It is your body and life anyway. But one piece of unsolicited advice that I could share with you is this: Do not let media, society or other people make you believe that you are not beautiful. After all, the perception of beauty always changes overtime. For example, see those paintings made during the Renaissance period. Do you see girls who have this sought-after hourglass figure in any of the paintings? No. Well, during that time, curvier women are thought to be more beautiful. Just look at the famous “Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. In our modern day standards, that woman posing as Venus would probably be called as ‘fat’ by some people. Also, someday, when the world forgets about Angelina Jolie, women who tried copying her lips would probably look ludicrous. Like fashion, the perceptions of what is beautiful come and go. The bottom line is, accept yourself. In the first place, if you do not love yourself it reflects to the world. If you do not love yourself, chances are the world will not love you back. Do not focus much on what you don’t have. After all, the truth remains that you can never be perfect no matter how much surgeries you have. Feel blessed because you’re unique. Focus more on what is eternal like kindness rather that which comes and goes.

You are beautiful. Do not just believe in that. Know that.

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