Have you ever see those pictures of women's feet after constantly wearing stilettos? When their toes bend in on themselves from all the abuse?
Maybe you've heard someone talking about continuing to smoke because it keeps the pounds off? Or possibly, you've read about the obsession with a woman's "thigh gap," as that little space is a measure of attractiveness?
I recently went in for a regular teeth cleaning and was told that my gums are receding, and apparently, pretty badly.
Without getting several gum grafts, my teeth are at risk for long-term problems, like decay, infection, bone loss and maybe even eventually falling out.
After sobbing to my mom in the car on the way back into work, a wave of regret washed over me.
I did this to myself; after getting 16 teeth pulled, braces, spacers, retainers, rubber bands and cranks, I had sufficiently weakened my gums from all my orthodontia work. That realization opened the floodgates for a second round of tears.
I was doing what I was told needed to happen for my oral health and straight smile. But, I began to wonder, if I did less cosmetic work on my mouth, would it be healthier now?
Are perfectly straight teeth really necessary for oral health, or is it all just to achieve society's standard of beauty?
I get that some level of work needed ensue so my teeth wouldn't uproot each other, and so I could brush them all well, but beyond that, did I damage my health for beauty?
I have a great smile now but given the upcoming grafts, I could have probably met somewhere in the middle, between perfection and health.
Then, I couldn't stop thinking about everything we do every day that makes us "look good" despite being really terrible for us.
We lock ourselves in tanning-bed ovens to cook our skin to leather, just so we achieve "healthy" glows. Well, that "healthy glow" will probably give some of us skin cancer.
We curl, straighten and blow dry our hair every day, just so we can have what society has taught us to define as "good hair."
Not only do we waste hours of our lives on our hair, but we damage the actual hair by drying it out and stressing the ends until they split.
We cake on makeup so people will think we have sultry, smokey eyes. My guy friend once put on makeup (it was Halloween) and he broke out all over the place.
Welcome to a woman's world, where we either have to spend money on high-quality makeup that hopefully won't break us out or on all sorts of lotions and creams to keep breakouts in check once we get them.
Because glasses are nerdy, we instead shove pieces of plastic into our eyes so we can see, which can easily irritate and swell our eyes.
If you forget about them, you may just scratch your retina. We try out juice cleanses, extreme diets and snacking on ice cubes to be skinny. Sure, you might be skinny eating 200 calories a day, but there's no way you're healthy.
It's difficult to understand why we place a value on being tan, having straight hair, wearing a ton of makeup, having perfect vision and being skinny.
None of those are biological indicators of a healthy human, yet we've socially constructed them as traits for which we should all strive.
Being healthy should be society's definition of beauty. Until that happens, it'll continue to be mine, whether society agrees or not.