What is the price of beauty?


Whatever their age, there are very few people who would not like to be good-looking. For centuries, human beings have been grooming themselves to be physically attractive. To achieve this, they have sought inspiration from nature, the living things around them, and their own creativity. The standard of beauty differs from culture to culture, and from decade to decade, and women have resorted to unusual ways to make themselves more beautiful. For instance, in Myanmar, women in Chin State in the northwestern part of Myanmar have adorned their faces with tattoos for centuries, so also, women of the Padaung community living in Kayah State in eastern Myanmar like to wear heavy brass coils around their necks and these, when worn for a long time, sunken their shoulders and make them appear to have long necks. On the other hand, the majority of Myanmar women decorate their faces with the paste of the bark of the fragrant thanaka (Limonia acidissima) which serves as adornment, sun block and skin care. Among our neighbouring countries, in ancient China, having small feet was supposed to add beauty to women, and girls from wealthy families underwent the painful process of having their feet tightly bound while they were young, so that their feet would not grow larger. In another neighbouring country, India, women in some regions like to have elongated ear lobes which are regarded as a symbol of beauty and wealth in their society and this is achieved by piercing the ear lobes and wearing heavy jewellery. So, also in Japan, women during the Heian-era (794-1185) with the belief that their beauty is enhanced, they blackened their teeth to match their black hair. In Europe, at one time, women of the upper class rubbed poisonous titanium paint on their faces to achieve a pale look, the standard of beauty at that time. In some African and Pacific countries, women of large physical size are regarded as worthy of admiration.
Today, however, most women seemed to have come to a universal agreement on the standard of beauty. They want to look fair, slim, tall, youthful and as European as possible. Since nowadays, they also want to reveal as much of their assets as possible, they have come to give more attention to their entire body.
Producers of beauty products, beauticians, scientists, cosmetic surgeons and others in the beauty industry are all eager to make the dreams of women (and some men) come true, but of course at a price. A Myanmar woman with an average income who likes to lavish herself with beauty enhancers may spend about 100,000 kyats a month on beauty products and hair styling, which does not include the price of the perfume she uses. The cost comes up to about three thousand kyats per day, a sum of money that can buy her a decent meal. She, and in some cases he, with the rise in Metrosexual males who are men who like to beautify themselves with expensive clothes, trendy hair products and elaborate facials, have a wide range of beauty products such as skin care products, shampoos, hair dyes, make-ups, lip sticks, nail polish, bath products, etc., etc., etc., made of herbal, chemical and animal products to choose from. Many spas have also sprung up in cities in Myanmar to provide massage, special baths and beauty treatments. There are also many beauticians now available to make a woman look extra beautiful for special occasions. (Unfortunately, some ends up looking like the beauticians themselves.)
To achieve women’s obsession for the European look, there are lotions and creams to make them “fair and lovely”. Moreover, they can get their eyes fitted with blue, hazel or green tinted contact lens to change the colour of their eyes. They can get their hair dyed, auburn, blonde, brunette, chestnut, or ginger, and straighten, frizz, or curl their hair to look like the women in the West. Operations can also be done to their eyes, nose, lips, mouth, cheek and jaw bones to get the perfect European features. Their teeth can also be beautified by whitening them, changing the shape and alignment and filling spaces in between using cosmetic dentistry. To give their body a trendy look, they could add a few, or many tattoos. Slimness may be difficult to achieve and may require a bit of effort, but there are fitness centres, exercise and diet plans and massage to help them achieve their ambition. Furthermore, women can take drastic measure like undergoing liposuction operation to suck fat from under their skin, or remove a few ribs to create a smaller waist. They can also add a bit of silicon here and there to gain a great figure. If they want to look youthful, they can use skin care lotions and oils, Botox injection, or plastic surgery to get rid of all the wrinkles on their faces and make their skin smooth and young. If a woman wants to look tall, she can wear shoes with six-inch heels, and if she is desperate to have long legs, she can do so with the assistance of surgeons.
All that a person dreams of, to improve himself/herself can be done these days with a bit of help from beauty products and cosmetic surgery, but of course at a certain price. The price may be just a large sum of money, or one might have to pay with health. There might be allergic reactions by a person’s skin to certain lotions and hair dyes, and this might cause her health problems. Surgery might permanently disfigure a person instead of enhancing her beauty as, when a person due to a botched operation to lengthen her legs, ends up with one leg longer than the other and walking with a limp the rest of her life. One could also become addicted to cosmetic surgery, and end up looking like an ogress. A person could also die after an unsuccessful operation to improve her figure as happened recently to a beauty queen from a South American country. Finally, nobody is able to predict the long-term consequences of the changes a person has made to herself to gain the perfect look. So, before one takes drastic measures to improve one’s looks, one should think of the
short-term, as well as the long-term consequences carefully.

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