We now live in a time when people are more judgmental of looks and when beauty is based on the color of the skin or the perfection of facial features.
The transformation of social media phenomenon Marlou Arizala to Xander Ford left many Filipinos in awe over the works and wonders of cosmetic surgery. It also revealed a deep-seated desire amongst many Filipinos to be socially accepted as far as physical looks is concerned.
Our longing for acceptance has historical roots. For over three and a half centuries of colonial rule in the Philippines, physical appearance was commonly used as a gauge of one's position in society. This meant that one is on a higher social pedestal if your features are comparable with either the Spaniards or the Americans.
Over time, the influences of media and advertising have solidified our image and concept of beauty. Influential blocs have capitalized on pre-conceived notions of beauty by providing services and products in the market that often associate fair complexion and straight hair with being beautiful.
We now live in a time when people are more judgmental of looks and when beauty is based on the color of the skin or the perfection of facial features. Sometimes, though, we also see silver linings as success stories are told by Filipinos who refuse to be swayed by the trend of "undergoing the knife" just to please superficial members of society.
Filipinos with natural looks, oft-characterized by brown complexions and low wide noses, are laden with an abundance of talent. Our country has naturally talented and skilled sports figures, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and professionals around the world. Notably, their passport to success is not beauty but skill and ability.
Vice Ganda gained national prominence because of his natural ability to make people laugh. Throngs of crowds pile up in cinemas not for his pretty looks but for his comic antics that send people falling off their seats. Although he may have undergone cosmetic enhancements after, his claim to fame remains to be his comedic talent.
Efren Bata Reyes competed in several billiard competitions and didn't need to wear false teeth to arguably become the Greatest Billiard Player in history. It was his sharp eyes and steady hands that allowed him to perform the most difficult safety and trick shots ever seen in the sport. He considered his toothlessness to be his lucky charm.
Sadly, many Filipinos remain fixated with a skin-deep notion of beauty, while overlooking skill, talent, manners, character, and ability. Many Filipinos even focus on improving appearance through cosmetic enhancements rather than their skills and abilities.
Our society continues to lose appreciation for genuine beauty when it chooses to ride the waves of colonialism and modernization. The sad part about it is that society will not change its concept of beauty overnight. It will continuously define standards of beauty based on superficial considerations and external influences. Advancements in cosmetic surgery will flourish as the demand continues to rise. In the process, many people are bound to get caught up with looking good instead of being good.
Against this phenomenon, it is crucial for us to be reminded to reflect on the true beauty of our humanity. Our ability to maximize the talent given us and to choose to do good define our true value as human beings. Accepting our imperfections and using our God-given talents, not cosmetic enhancements, can give us peace of mind and genuine happiness.