Nepali society values physical appearance more than intellect. But, it needs to learn that it’s illusion

Photo: Pexels/ Engin Akyurt

Society and people growing up in society cannot look into each other’s minds, thoughts and values. These inner characteristics of people do not appear visible. It is the physical appearance that is visible to them.

Perhaps that is why people have built up blocks of perception to outline a person based on their outer appearance and escaped the difficult part to be able to understand their inner appearance. This trend exists in Nepali society too, but it needs to change. Nepali society needs to learn that physical appearance is just an illusion.

Changing values

The earth must be the best observer of the evolution of human beings’ inner appearance. It is also the greatest witness to watch the evolution of the physical appearance of Homo sapiens to date.

Perhaps, the struggle for food and survival in the earliest age and later on the struggle for housing, education, and basic facilities during the medieval period accounted for most of the attention. Appearance did mean so little, if any, during those struggling periods.

At present, the rise in the economy worldwide characterised by attaining the highest level of food security and fulfilment of basic human needs are some of the reasons for such a massive portion of human attention given to physical appearance.

Nevertheless, people with so-called sound physical appearance are not emphasised in all circumstances, especially when the status of food security and access to basic human needs is low. It is not even counted when such status is miserably low.

Today, in the era of social media, physical appearance has gone way too far to ignore it. People struggle to be in the mainstream by looking physically appealing. The fear of missing out is one of the most common emotions among people, especially among the youth.

Ignorance could be a blissful act. However, not all are able to come over the fact that physical appearance should not matter. For youth, ignoring it could be challenging because the majority of social media users are youngsters, spending their productive time and energy scrolling social media, where the guideline on enhancing the physical appearance is poured every minute by the social media influencers. Those who were able to ignore such an illusion might have possessed a great degree of self-esteem, faith and wisdom. Following the path of spirituality could also be helpful.

The era of physical acknowledgement

Model flaunting Nuzhat Qazi

People have acknowledged physical appearance in each and every aspect of human life. A common understanding among the general people is favourability for those with good looks. For instance, physical appearance plays a major role during dating and mating.

During recruitment for a job, physical appearance slightly tops the chart even if both the candidates who are physically good-looking and not so good-looking compete for the job having equal qualifications for the vacant post. This is the reason behind every other people running after making themselves look good either by a good dress, makeup or anything or everything that adds to physical appearance.

Physical appearance is much more limited to women and girls and more applicable to women and girls of dating and mating age everywhere around the globe. The purpose of modern clothing also contains aesthetic reasons for enhancing appearance apart from traditional reasons such as covering and protecting the body parts.

The earth’s unprocessed raw materials such as leaves were used as clothes for covering the basic parts during the hunting and gathering age. At the moment, the same amount of minimal clothes is a trend stitched with processed raw materials for developing complex clothes for enhancing physical appearance since it matters a lot.

There is a tendency to bullying based on looks in schools and colleges, common among girls. Such repeated bullying not only affects one’s self-confidence but also leads to poor quality of life.

In Nepali society, women and girls are highly judged based on their looks and given a lot of pressure to look good for finding a partner. They are advised to use facial cosmetics and dress well to create an illusion, which in fact should not be a topic to talk about in this era of sustainable development.

Just an illusion

Unlike magic and illusion that disappears from our life the moment the show comes to an end, the illusion of physical appearance stays with us in our mind, thoughts and lives. It deceives us from the reality of eternal inner beauty. It is also true people let them be deceived. Some people are not aware of such an illusion and have accepted it as a reality whereas some understand but blindfold themselves and some try to overcome it.

Firstly, inner appearance should be the first and foremost priority and every child should be given informal education about the values and virtues of inner appearance at home and learn about the different aspects of inner appearance at school.

Secondly, understanding and accepting own flaws should be considered an important subject to be educated at both home and school and should be regarded as one of the indispensable parenting and schooling skills of parents and teachers, respectively.

People have forgotten about talking and writing about human inner appearance and passing such qualities to the new generation is on the verge of getting lost. This forgotten subject should be awakened and held a very special place in the human heart for the sustainability of peace and harmony.

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Nepali is a public health professional based in Kathmandu.

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