William Shakespeare wrote in a monologue in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” These days, it seems that all the world’s a beauty pageant, and all the men and women are doing their damnedest to be as beautiful as possible. What I’m saying is, beauty has become an obsession. It’s the new world religion.
It goes beyond merely trying to dress in trendy clothing and look our best. There is definitely an image that the advertising media promotes, and everyone—young and old, men and women, every nationality—tries to become that image. And for those of us who fall short of the mark, we worship those few who make the grade.
I’ve been noticing this more and more as I attend gatherings where people stand around, dressed to the nines, posing. On social media, there are as many people posting pictures of near-naked men as there are people posting pictures of their dogs and cats. For those under thirty (and many over), they all have stylish tattoos, designer clothing with the labels showing, and everyone belongs to one gym or another. Beauty is a multi-trillion dollar industry, and everyone seems to march to the same beat. Perhaps it’s just my perception, but it seems as though narcissism has grown to epidemic magnitudes.
Are we changing our values because we are letting the advertising industry manipulate us?
I’m not trying to suggest I’m above admiring a handsome, well-dressed man or woman. I can appreciate beauty as much as the next person. What I’m questioning is when did the worship of outer beauty replace the quest to cultivate/appreciate unpretentious, inner beauty. When did mankind grow so shallow? Or is it just me, where I’m focusing my energy these days? As my looks fade, perhaps I’m noticing the trend more.
That is of course why so many religious orders have the priests/monks shave their heads and wear the same drab clothing, to escape the clutches of vanity. I’m not suggesting all people do this. I think self-expression is wonderful. Yet, the question remains, how do we keep our focus on inner qualities, rather than what the eye sees?