Obsessed With Beauty

MARIA * is a successful young woman and is part of a lovely family. Still, she is not happy. Why? She is dissatisfied with her appearance. Although her family tries to encourage her, Maria feels that she is far from beautiful, and that makes her depressed.

José comes from a respectable family and seems to have every reason to be happy. But he feels that he will never find a mate. Why? José feels that he is homely, even ugly. He is convinced that no worthwhile woman would be attracted to him.

Eight-year-old Luis likes to go to school and is quite sociable. He enjoys playing with his schoolmates, but he often cries because they make fun of his appearance. They say that he is fat.

These are not isolated cases. To say that Maria, José, and Luis merely have a problem with self-respect may be oversimplifying the matter. The truth is that no one likes to feel rejected because of his or her appearance.

However, society places excessive importance upon appearance. In fact, success often seems to depend on looks. For example, the most attractive people seem to have more opportunities in the job market. Pilar Muriedas, one of the directors of the Latin-American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network, says that for women, “having a good image is one of the principal requirements for success.” And according to Dr. Laura Martínez, women well know that ultimately “image counts for a lot when it comes to being hired.”

Of course, many men have also become obsessed with developing the “perfect” body. Indeed, many individuals of both sexes go to great lengths in their pursuit of beauty, even starving themselves or submitting to painful treatments to achieve the best face or figure possible. Is this pursuit worthwhile? Are there any dangers involved?

[Footnote]

^ par. 2 Names have been changed.

[Picture on page 3]

Physical appearance may affect the opportunities one is given