Is there a Dorian Gray Lurking in Everyone?

Dorian Gray

In a world that’s subliminally (or sometimes very directly) telling you that being beautiful means being worthy, it is kind of difficult to survive without developing a severe case of self-consciousness and self-doubt. Not that we’d ever fall under the spell of superficiality, but given that a lie told two times becomes the truth, how strong are we not to develop an addiction to beauty, i.e. physical beauty – to be more precise?

Social Media Influence and Beauty Standards

With the growing popularity of social media, that’s both expanding our views on beauty (we won’t deny the fact that, up to the end of the 20th century, only white women were portraits of beauty), somewhat redefining it and adding some realness to this never-ending discussion (the growing popularity of “plus size” models is definitely a positive vibe), we are, at the same time, getting bombarded with Barbie celebrity ideals that are, in all truth, hard to miss.  The struggle to stay alive, positive and healthy in a Size Zero culture feels like tilting at windmills, every single day.  Like being a woman itself isn’t already hard enough, we now have to “fight” other women and beat their skin tone, their size, shape, flawless hair, social and economic status – just to be noticed, and then – maybe even loved.

beauty standards

Pop Culture and Dorian Gray

While on one hand, the 21st century has embraced the diversity of beauty (in color, size and shape), it has – on the other – forced upon us an unnaturally perfect image that’s very difficult to keep up with.  This lurking paradox of existence is making it twice as hard for women to stay within their inborn identity and appreciate it for what it is, without, at least at one point, thinking there indeed are parts of their bodies and faces that need to be surgically/cosmetically adjusted.  So, what are we to do?  

While surgical procedures in themselves aren’t a big deal (why wouldn’t we correct parts of ourselves that are making us uncomfortable?), what poses a problem is the overly enthusiastic approach to corrective medicine, promoting a-must-surgery attitude that’s destroying the confidence of both young women in development and women in their late 30's, 40's and 50's, teaching them that – the way they currently look – simply isn’t good enough.  

no needles

With low self-esteem come poor life choices, so – wanting to improve their life quality – most women opt for surgeries just so.   What is more, even experts in corrective surgery working in renewed clinics like Medaesthetics have started expressing their concerns for the growing interest in surgery in women who, realistically speaking, have nothing to “fix”, but still cultivate a physical body anxiety that’s leading them into obsessive behaviours and, ultimately, a dissatisfaction with who they are (physically). In medical circles, this psychological state is known as DGS – Dorian Gray Syndrome – “a cultural and societal phenomenon characterised by a man's extreme pride in his personal appearance and the fitness of his physique, which are accompanied by difficulties in coping with the requirements of psychological maturation and with the aging of his body”.

beauty products

Unlike using beauty products to prolong aging and improve the aesthetics of one’s appearance in a healthy way (which may or may not work, without serious consequence), corrective surgery is estimated to be addictive and can be very dangerous.   Apart from the results that may fail, a person may easily get hooked and destroy their physique by expecting a picture-perfect reality, which, naturally, can’t be achieved.  

What is more, both men and women are affected by this society-imposed critique, and the expectation to fit the mould (although, men suffer from it less) which has them constantly wondering whether they are good enough.  You are.  

You are beautiful

So, let us ask you this: what’s a woman’s worth if she doesn’t have large breasts, a plump behind, a tiny waist and pouty lips?  The current beauty standards say she is worthless.  We believe otherwise. You should believe it, too. Embrace your surgical procedures healthily, with no obsessions about fitting in or filling anyone’s standards.   Working with professionals will help you get what you want, but learn to stop.   Tame that Dorian Gray in you, and you’ll live happily ever after.

About the Author

Elise is fitness girl from Colorado. She is health and fitness fanatic who adores hiking, long bicycle rides, paragliding and all sorts of extreme sports, after all she did spend hundreds of hours in the air. She loves writing about health, beauty, adventure and experiences. You can connect with Elise via Facebook,Twitter

  • Sophia Smith

    Awesome article :)! Really make me think am I trying too hard to fulfill beauty standards our society has set.

    • Vicki Law

      It’s a great article, very thought provoking.So glad Elise shared it with SKN Complex.

  • Katie

    Great article very insightful! I definitely hold myself to unrealistic standards sometimes and its important to be reminded that they are just that unrealistic, thank you!

    • Vicki Law

      Thank you Katie,glad you got something out of the article.

  • Rowan Osguthorpe

    This was such a great read! Have to admit the title really pulled me in, but stuck around for the great content. I always seem to hold myself to higher standards than anyone else and I have to remind myself daily not to be so harsh! Sometimes that means taking a break from social media 🙂

    • Vicki Law

      It’s difficult not to set such high standards when we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images in magazines & social media. Taking a break is definitely a great idea if you can do it.

  • Yes! I’m so critical of myself and the worst thing I could do is get jealous of someone instead of being happy for them. It’s a slippery slope if you don’t check yourself!

    • Vicki Law

      It’s a natural response to be a little jealous but as long as you are self aware enough not to dwell there.

  • Samantha Franklin

    I used to worry all the time but now I just accept myself. Since having my kids I have learned to value other qualities and not sweat the small stuff. Hopefully as a result I will raise my girls to be happy and confident

    • Vicki Law

      Accepting yourself for all your beauty and flaws is definitely the way to go.

  • Alexandra

    I’m always so conflicted when it comes to makeup and plastic surgery… it’s our body, so we should own it and do whatever the hell we want to get the look we want for ourselves. What scares me is that some people really go to extremes and put their life at risk to achieve a certain appearance, and that’s when you know something just isn’t right.
    I do think though that in general women are taking back their bodies for themselves and becoming more confident, and we’re allowed to feel hot for ourselves and not just for men/partners/etc.
    Good read, thanks for giving some perspective 🙂

    • Vicki Law

      There is nothing wrong with having plastic surgery if the reasons for it are for your own personal satisfaction and comfort. It’s when you feel you have to in order to conform to the unrealistic body ideas portrayed by others.

  • Gabrielle English

    A very interesting read. “unrealistic images in magazines & social media” Vicki Law you nailed it! these images are designed // manipulated to SELL you something they play on our doubts and insecurities (we all have them – we are human) If you can look at it for what it is and then you can free yourself and enjoy this oh too short life we have doing REAL stuff that matters to YOU.
    I have just published my blog that covers some of these issues! talking about it helps create change.

    • Vicki Law

      I’ll head over and check your article out.