Are certain people more prone to see physical appearance as the ultimate marker of their true worth? Many blame the fashion and media industries for focusing to much on ‘Body Capital’. But I believe this phenomenon is a fundamental drivers that has always influenced our society.
Bombarded with Wrong Messages
Media and the fashion industries are, without doubt, great drivers of the today’s body ideals, but to put the blame solely on them is to miss the bigger picture. The real problem arises when people begin to use ‘Body Capital’ as a barometer of self-worth. Often problems arise for people who experienced traumas in early childhood and, as a result, struggle with low self-worth. With many mainstream parenting ideas built around not spoiling our children with too much attention or praise, might we see yet another generation struggling with low self-worth? Certainly, we start to form our self-image in early childhood, so parents must avoid allowing their kids to equate beautiful with good. I still hear parents say to their girls: “Stop crying it makes you ugly’”. What kind of belief is that to nurture in your child? Emotions are ugly? Little wonder so many adults use food as an emotional comfort.
Installing Healthy Ideals
We must refocus and educate people to instill healthy ideals in their children. Women, in particular, often focus on what they don’t like about their bodies and find it very difficult to talk positively about themselves – a trait they then pass on to their children if they aren’t careful. However, asked to describe a friend or their mother, they invariably come up with things they find beautiful – including not just looks, but humour, energy, bravery, kindness and intelligence. So focus must be on the positive stories about ideals linked to happiness, health, wellbeing and contribution to society.
The economics of beauty was pioneered about 20 years ago, as a means of linking beauty or body capital to economy – it is also called ‘Pulchronomics’. In the US, research showed that in terms of earnings, the top 1/3 most attractive women received 8% more than average-looking women, and those rated lowest for their looks typically received 4% lower pay than average. However, just as interestingly, men judged the best looking had salaries 4% higher, but those judged least attractive received 13% less pay. So in terms of salary, men were actually punished harder than women if their body capital was perceived as low.
A Holistic View of Body Capital
To address what is patently an unfair and shallow way of perceiving people’s worth – and also to enable people to build up their personal confidence – we simply need a much more diverse ‘Body Capital’ image’. It is has always been ‘big business’ to sell stories of aspiration – they are often unrealistic ideals that are not linked to ‘real life’ and they are certainly not necessary to experience ‘The Good Life’. As my wise friend – who is 35 years my senior – wrote to me on my 21st-birthday: Always remember: “Life consists not in holding good cards, but playing those you do hold really well”. This was a great lesson in life and one I still remember all those years later. If we perceive of ourselves as ‘whole’ beings and focus on developing strengths not worrying about weaknesses, we have a much clearer idea of the true value of our Body Capital.
Images and Videos
* Lovely Girl, for Ever – Video: Dove Canada
* Baby Brekke – Photo: Brekke
* Educating the Kids – Photo: Brekke
* Girls and Boys on the Beach – Photo: Brekke
* Meet The Momshells: How Celebrities Make Mums Feel Guilty >>
* Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are… by Daniel Hamermes >>
* Naked Truths About Female Nudity >>
* Still Figuring it Out – Video: Tavi Gevinson TEDxTeen talk >>