In our relentless pursuit to be ‘beautiful,’ have we gone too far?

By Tiara Camille Teruel

Walking past the milk and dairy aisle, and just next to the eggs, I stopped and felt a sly smile slowly paint across my face. In my pajamas, my unruly hair and my fogged-up glasses, I felt free.

For once, and maybe it’s just because it’s the holidays and possibly the fact that I’m a block away from home – but this time I didn’t care how I looked, and it felt amazing! Isn’t that sad though that I rarely feel amazing in public when I’m bare and natural? Even if it’s just at the local grocery store. Forget the pajamas part, it’s really the fact that I sometimes feel insecure about how I look and how I am perceived.

You could say that I’ve bought into the adage of making sure I look great every moment in public because you don’t quite know who you will run into. Even for a non-celebrity like me, it’s easy to get swallowed in the paparazzi phase of feeling like all eyes are always on you. The need to put your best foot forward was never quite this relentless. More and more girls and women are wanting to look specifically like something from these “standards” — even losing their uniqueness and sometimes not being able to recognize themselves afterwards. There’s been a significant negative impact on women’s body issues, and we’re all to blame for it.

It’s no secret that there’s so much pressure to be thin, beautiful and youthful in the entertainment industry, particularly for women who are actresses and singers in Hollywood. It even translates to those who are around it.

As a Talent Agent, I not only see it, but I sell that image every day. I have to believe in it. I’m also judged every day by how I look, act and come off to other people – just as much as my own talent is. I have to not only make sure my talent pool is at its best and that they keep up with what’s in demand, but that I appropriately do so myself.

This, unfortunately, is just like selling a new car or a remodeled home. It has to be shiny, pretty, beautiful. It’s hard to be able to outline the beauty each person has. Regardless of the standards, and even though it’s a struggle, I sure try. Preserving the beauty of a well-rounded talent to help someone focus on not just the exterior is all you can really do. Reminding each person of what really matters as they embark on a career filled with rejection and judgment is crucial. Having a strong team on your side is what matters.

Not always will you have to be just an exterior, you can be funny, you can be interesting, you can even be somewhat unique. But to be bought, you have to be in demand. You also have to remember to be relatable and have a great personality. Often people forget that part. To stand out and be noticed, it’s absolutely the exterior you will be judged on, but in reality it’s what’s inside that keeps you going. How you feel about yourself is the one thing that will make a difference in the long run.

Sure sex sells, beauty attracts and looking fit and stylish makes people appear more valuable. But we have gone too far. We’ve shifted to the superficial so much that we’ve forgotten about character. So much so, that when we meet people who have character, we call it “rare.” Can we even help it? What can one do to even change all this?

These are beautiful things – but there’s a side to it that goes too far. It becomes narcissistic and it sets a different example for our youth. There’s a fine line that we have crossed and it is definitely affecting the self-esteem and body image issues of our youth today — especially young girls. They don’t understand that it’s an unrealistic standard of beauty. That the airbrushed models and media images in magazines are effortlessly flawless because of a team behind it. That the sculpted bodies and perfect forms they see are a lot of hard work and dedication. Hollywood’s beauty standards are harsh even to the mega celebrities whose faces and bodies are the very ones that make it up. Even living up to their own image of perfection has proven much too hard for many celebrities. We see this in many plastic surgery disasters and stories of those turning to drugs, diet pills and other narcotics that have severely affected their health and even at times have turned deadly.

During a Talk by Meaghan Ramsey for the Dove Self-Esteem project, she mentioned that 10,000 people a month google “Am I Ugly?” I find this sad. This needs to be an issue we must tackle now. That looking in the mirror and not seeing what is deemed beautiful to society has led people to turn to google to find out if they are beautiful.

I know that for us Filipinos, and our culture, this is also hard to do. We have in our own country, a very specific view on what is beautiful. We love our beauty pageants, and we have even gone as far as selling bleaching soaps and bleaching make up. It’s not hard to focus on beauty when we have produced some of the world’s most beautiful people. I’m not saying there is no pride in the beauty standards now but we also need to place just as much value in inner beauty as well.

We all know this unhealthy image of beauty needs to stop. We know we need to change this. But how exactly? Our own narcissism and compliance to what is the “norm” has rendered us helpless. It’s almost like a survival tactic. If we are able to even closely resemble what is beautiful, then it’s ok. But it’s not OK. Our standards should fit all the different needs.

Our children do not have to suffer the injustice of this. They are our future, and what we instill in them now is who they will become tomorrow. Show them what it means to be beautiful on the inside. Practice compassion, love, kindness and teach them the intelligence of appreciating all the diverse people and cultures. Expose them to what true beauty can be so that they are grounded when they are surrounded by what is superficial. Take the time to appreciate their own skills and tell them they are beautiful. Hopefully then, we can cultivate a new generation of people who are truly and naturally beautiful.

Tiara Camille Teruel, a talent agent in Los Angeles, is a regular contributor to The FilAm.

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