There was a time when our fashion sense and information came from magazines, television, and what shops had to offer. The latest styles in clothes, makeup, hair-cuts and color coordination all came from glossy pages, giant posters, commercials, and what movie stars wore to festivals or in their latest films.
So much could be told about a person by the way they dressed, whether or not they were “in” and whether they had money! Cruel but true, because judgments are so often based on appearances. Back then, if a man was disheveled, it was because he had no one to look after him; if a woman was disheveled, it was because she had no fashion sense. If a young girl wore her shirt buttoned-up till the top, she was a prude from a conservative family, if, on the other hand, she showed too much flesh, she was rebellious and undisciplined, and her parents did not raise her properly! If a child wore designer clothes, his family had obscene amounts of money. If a pre-schooler played the latest gadget or wore an expensive piece of jewelry, it was evident that the parents didn’t know the value of money. Endless judgments.
Today, social media plays a considerable role in the way people think and behave and in their fashion sense. Just browsing through Snapchat or TikTok gives an impressive idea of what is trending and what to expect people to be wearing sooner rather than later! Hairstyles and colors, makeup tips and tutorials, nail lengths and designs, and that’s not even talking about clothes.
Our value system has changed, and in this world of instantaneousness and gratification, we’ve lost sight of the middle road and have replaced the old normal with a new norm where judgments of the past seem lame.
The beauty industry is benefitting from people’s infinite search for the most dazzling and alluring and shocking and offensive. I came across a site on Snapchat promoting Botox and fillers that change your looks at the point of a needle. The results were frightening, with lips reaching unnatural expansion levels, all filmed in its gory details of pain and blood. Why?!!! Is it even considered beautiful? Which leads me to ask, what is beautiful today? What are the criteria used to make us reach a “wow” or “yuk” reaction?
Our value system has changed, and in this world of instantaneousness and gratification, we’ve lost sight of the middle road and have replaced the old normal with a new norm where judgments of the past seem lame. After all, what kind of comment can be made about a woman with gigantic lips or 3.5 cm long pointy nails or a man who films himself revealing his makeup secrets? I’m not being judgmental, just stating a fact, trying to make sense of this reality, and wondering what kind of world will be inherited by our grandchildren.
Compared to today, yesterday’s world was truly naïve!
• Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee within the Shoura.