Is Beauty More Than Skin Deep?

By Morgan Fletcher –

‘Cause you’re amazing, just the way you are.

Although it is simply a line from a mainstream pop song, it packs a lot of meaning.

It’s no secret that we live in a highly superficial world.  From a young age, girls are driven to believe that they should look a certain way in order to be successful in the world.

“The media portrays impossible standards,” Penn Manor senior Veronica Willig said.

Even though young girls are well aware that the glossy photos they see on the pages of magazines are extremely airbrushed and unrealistic, they still have mixed feelings about what their physical appearance should be.

As a result, many girls resort to forms of beauty enhancements, some very extreme.

Girls use tanning beds despite warnings about skin cancer. Photo courtesy msnbc

Recently, 20-year-old Claudia Adusei from London died after complications from a cosmetic surgery procedure.  Adusei  traveled to Philadelphia to get her buttocks enhanced and was injected with illegal silicone.

“I believe that people should do what makes them happy,” Penn Manor senior Hannah Willet said.

Still, she knows that public opinion plays a major role in how people view themselves.

“I feel like society is what makes people do what they do,” she said.

Plastic surgery is an ever-growing trend among men and women of various ages.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 13 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2010.  Nearly 210,000 cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed on people age 13 to 19 in 2009.

Despite the high numbers, girls in Penn Manor don’t seem to be in favor of procedures that alter one’s physical appearance for superficial purposes.

“I feel as though plastic surgery is only appropriate for people who have been in horrific accidents and have serious tissue damage,” Willig said.

“It’s a waste of money.  It’s inhumane,” Olivia Hertzler said.

“It’s so unnecessary,” Katie Maisel added.

Interest in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures is on the rise. Photo courtesy Beverly Hills Cosmetics

Still others believe that if it’s going to boost your self-confidence, you should go through with getting a cosmetic procedure.

“[It] depends on what it is,” said Ella Perry.

She counts something like a nose job as being acceptable if it is going to make a girl feel prettier, but getting breast implants as shallow.

A major beauty enhancer that many girls and women are in favor of is artificial tanning.

“Tanning hides your blemishes and makes you feel good about yourself,” Emily Hutchinson said.

Others feel that it is appropriate for certain occasions.

“I’m for tanning for special occasions like prom but not all year round,” said Jackie Schmalhofer.

“[I support tanning] from time to time.  Like if you have tan lines from sports and you want to look good for prom,” said Hertzler.

Some girls feel obligated to tan and ignore the harmful effects that tanning poses.

“I do it.  I need to because of my pale complexion,” said Perry.

“I think it’s great.  You’re going to die either way so why not look good?” a source who wishes to remain anonymous said.

Not all young girls here favor tanning however.

“Tanning is an excellent example of women harming themselves to fulfill a superficial image,” Willig said.

Penn Manor psychology teacher Maria Vita understands how much a person’s culture influences their perspectives on beauty.  She teaches her psychology classes about different cultures and what they perceive as beautiful.

“Every culture values a different kind of beauty,” Vita said.  “I don’t get too fanatical about opinions.”

Vita however is not too into forms of beauty enhancements herself and doesn’t wear makeup.

“Personally, I don’t want to modify the body.  I would never tan.  I just don’t make time for stuff like that.”

Regardless of what stands people take on beauty, it’s clear that there are always pressures to look a certain way.

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