The Beauty Myth

From time immemorial women have strived to look beautiful. There have been changing standards of beauty and body size that are considered attractive through the ages. What was considered appealing in the Victorian era — the tight corsets to show off tiny, compressed waists for example, maybe horrifying archaic now, as may some of the 21st century styles and standards of beauty, for someone a hundred years from now.

Cosmetic surgery has reached a new high today. There is an unimaginable array of ‘procedures’ you can subject yourself to, that supposedly improve appearance. Some of these procedures are similar to over-the-counter drugs where, one can walk into a cosmetic clinic over the lunch hour and step out looking different.

Then there are the expensive creams, gels, pastes, massages, treatments, laser and other interventions that claim to improve the quality of skin, do away with wrinkles, ‘lift,’ ‘tuck’ and ‘shape’ where required, usually in an attempt to look younger.

Procedures like bariatric surgery are also on the rise to hasten weight loss. It seems easier to go under the surgeon’s knife than work hard and watch the diet in order to lose that fat. How long are we able to sustain this newfound body or is this just another temporary tryst with ‘beauty’?

An important question to ask ourselves is — Are we really better following these procedures? True there may be a marked temporary difference in the outward appearance, but how do we feel about ourselves? How well are we able to sustain this ‘improvement’? How long does it last? Is the internal working of our body better?  Are we healthier?

Young women, seem particularly susceptible to falling prey to clever marketing tactics selling the beauty myth. Truth of the matter is, as far as looking good is concerned, it is possible to achieve a better body and better skin with some hard work and dedication. What results from this approach is not just a better looking body, but a better functioning one. No amount of cosmetic surgery can achieve greater strength, better stamina or flexibility.

Who wants any of those things, you say! All we want is a beautiful face and sexy body, and that too, in the easiest possible way, in the shortest time conceivable!


Unfortunately, most of these attempts at reversing the ageing process will not withstand the ravages of time. What follows will be more cosmetic surgery, eating disorders as we struggle to remain thin followed by mood disorders as we strain to cope with the unnatural struggle with this myth of beauty and slimness.

Vitamin X
None of the expensive ‘anti-aging’ creams come close to a good thirty-minute, heart-pumping workout. The resulting increased heart rate, increased blood flow to the skin and muscles, the opening of the sweat pores to cleanse the skin leads to that naturally youthful glow that no laser, cream or gel can reproduce. This is simply because what happens during a workout happens from within the body. It’s not just a bad surface job that is likely to crack and fade.

With regular exercise
–    The skin looks better and clearer.
–    Muscles are toned, withstand sagging, giving the body a youthful appearance.
–    Fat percentage is reduced, allowing for better muscle definition.
–    Acne, skin problems are minimised.
–    You walk taller, straighter with better, more youthful posture.
–    You have better balance, and reflexes preventing falls and injury.
–    Your memory and mental acuity increases making for a younger, smarter brain.
–    Abdominal fat is reduced, creating a slimmer, more youthful waistline.
–    Most importantly there is a great surge in self-confidence and mood elevation giving you the joie de vivre that enables you to live a better life.

Several health issues that creep in with age can be easily prevented with the right and regular exercise routine.
–    You don’t necessarily need to become diabetic or hypertensive with age (even if your parents are);
–    You don’t necessarily have to deal with an annoyingly widening waistline after you hit forty;
–    You don’t have to struggle with obesity, high cholesterol or heart disease if you take the necessary precautions early on;
–    You don’t have to spend hours in a beauty parlour trying to look younger.
All you need is a great workout.

With an endless list of benefits that are enticing for anyone seeking a better body and more importantly a better quality of life, I see no reason why women should seek out cosmetic surgery or the beauty parlour as the only way to improve appearance. These are superficial solutions intended to further increase one’s insecurities than truly improve one’s body from within.

Vitamin X or Exercise is the only truly proven method of arresting and reversing the ageing process from the cellular level. Studies done on individuals exercising regularly have found that the very DNA within muscle cells undergoes changes, altering the genetic expression within the individual muscle cells. Genes within the muscle cells were enriched and the aging was reversed. So, not only does the body appear visibly younger, muscles firmer, more toned and youthful, but the changes are evident on a basic cellular level!

None of the expensive ­ ‘anti-aging’ creams come close to a good thirty-minute, heart-pumping workout.

By all means colour your hair, get a nose job or a tummy tuck if that’s what you want. Consider however that this is not a substitute for regular exercise and healthy balanced eating if your objective is to obtain an indisputably superior body and lead a better quality life.

The writer is Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant
and author of ‘Get Size Wise.’

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