Second Gen Answers Back: Vanity vs Sanity

Demel Mehmet

I could name 100 things I find wrong with my body. From wanting a nose job, a smaller waist and bigger bum, to regretting the fact that I stopped wearing my retainers after I had my braces taken off, even down to feeling like I need to have my nails done 24/7. I could probably do with jaw filler, cheek filler and lip filler, but the fear of looking like a deformed blow-up doll takes over and I stop myself from venturing too far into the idea of having these things done.

I don’t think changing your appearance changes who you are as a person, and I don’t think getting procedures done is a bad thing, provided you can’t change this insecurity yourself through lifestyle alterations. For example, weight loss, unless you have a medical condition. If you don’t love parts of yourself, I do believe that you should have the freedom and choice to change those things. Yes, we can learn to love ourselves as we are, love our imperfections and love our flaws, but that’s a very long, difficult journey and I’d compare it to forcing yourself to eat dog poo when chocolate exists right in front of you.

Trends come and go, and all this filler aesthetic that is popular right now will die out like trends do. When filler goes out of fashion, all these plumped up girls will want everything dissolved. Remember when it was a girl’s worst nightmare to have a big bum and curves? Remember when black girls were teased for having big lips? Remember when thin eyebrows were the in thing and then Cara Delevigne supposedly changed the face of fashion with her (in my opinion barely) bushy brows? I mean, lets talk about eyebrows for a minute. As a Turkish Cypriot girl, I had a monobrow growing up, which my mum wouldn’t let me pluck until year 7, out of fear I’d get bullied more than I was already teased about it. My brother called me cyclops, my classmates questioned whether I knew my eyebrows joined like I didn’t own a mirror and I dreaded the sight of a camera. I plucked my eyebrows so thin at one point that they were barely visible. I drew them back in an inch thick. I tried to force them to arch when they naturally don’t, all in the name of vanity.

We all want to look hot, desirable and on-trend, and often, due to the hyper sexualisation of everything and the emphasis our generation has placed on relationships, it is solely for the benefit of the gender we are attracted to. I’ve heard boys describe girls using the term ‘DSLs’ (dick-sucking lips), and I’ve heard girls refer to boys hands as ‘pretty chokers’ (a sex kink), we even fetishize and fantasize over boys wearing chains, because they dangle over us during missionary, and girls having white painted toes, for what reason I don’t know. These things translate over to social media, and I think a lot of the time are done because of and for social media. We cannot deny the power that social media holds in its ability to create trends, decide what is desirable and make or break someone’s self-confidence and sense of self-worth. We pose provocatively, wear provocative outfits, and say provocative things for the sole purpose of catching attention, getting likes, comments and messages, which all factors into how much you value yourself. Anything for those five minutes of happy hormones, right? Never mind the bigger message you’re sending, intentional or not.  I do agree that we lack self-respect. We’ll go to great lengths to show that we’re a laugh, that we’re easy going, young, dumb and full of fun. We idolise sloppy behaviour, masked by the perfection we exhibit on social media.

While, yes, there are some influencers who use their platforms to highlight imperfections and normalise normal things, we’re really all still just chasing our ideas of perfection. I can learn to accept the small bump in my nose, and there are things I can do to make myself temporarily feel better about my nose, but my insecurity remains, and no amount of time or change in fashion will rid it. Whether it be face, body, fame or money, we’re always going to be chasing some ideal scenario we have pictured in our heads.

With the money you can make through social media, it’s no wonder people no longer care about brains or talent. Social media money is way easier to make, but it’s actually not very sustainable. It can all be gone with the click of a button. I believe in the use of social media as a tool for promoting real businesses and hustles, but I do not believe in it being used as your only means of doing business.

While I do believe that children are a product of the way in which they have been parented, I do empathise with parents and recognise that there is sometimes no way to avoid these things. The economy sucks, life is more expensive and even two parent households are forced to bring in two incomes. A lot of responsibility is placed on children from a young age and no matter what age you are, aren’t we all just looking to escape sometimes? If kids want to do something, they’re going to do it, especially because they don’t have any major responsibilities or dependents.

The internet is a wild place and it has become a staple in our lives. We are practically on it 24/7, whether on social media, streaming a movie, looking up a definition, or shopping. I don’t think the entire blame can be placed on parents when the internet is so easily accessible and unfiltered. The world is simply a game of Chinese whispers. Someone can say one thing, it gets elevated into a whole new thing within minutes, it spirals out of control and the next thing you know, 10 year olds are talking about fillers, sex and drugs. There is no innocence in this open world. Nothing is sheltered, nothing is left untouched, nothing is kept secret, and nothing is validated. We’ll even go to the extent of exposing our most intimate parts of ourselves in the name of vanity. Some will create rumours about themselves, spread lies to the media and claim something far from the truth in the name of vanity. Insanity at its finest.

The responsibility of combatting insecurity goes further than sitting with parents. Phones are a necessity, God knows what we’d do without the internet and Google and social media is the new way of socialising. We are exposed to too much, and no matter how much you try and shelter from it, there is no getting away from the mass overload of information we absorb every day. Trends come and go, but insecurity is, most of the time, forever.

Check out the first gen point of view here.

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