We human beings have a bad habit of taking things to the extreme. We do it with everything from diet and exercise to managing our finances. We certainly do it in terms of our personal appearance. The thing is that it is so unnecessary. One can care about their looks without being obsessive.
Psychology Today published an article on their website in 2014 discussing some of the harmful effects of being obsessed with how youlook. The article certainly had some important things to say. But if you take its advice to the extreme, you may be tempted to completely let yourself go. That is not good either.
There is a difference between not being obsessed with personal appearance and letting yourself go to the extent that you telegraph the wrong messages to other people. The fact of the matter is that human beings get their first impressions of other people based on physical appearance. That is never going to change. It’s not something that’s programmed into us as children. We are born that way; it is in our DNA.
Personal Appearance and Self-Esteem
The main thrust of the Psychology Today piece was how obsessing over personal appearance can lead to poor self-esteem. That much is hard to dispute. Some people just cannot feel good about themselves if they are dressed a certain way or sporting a certain hairstyle. There are even those whose teen angst carries into adulthood because they are never quite comfortable with how they look.
This sort of thing is obviously not good. No one’s self-esteem should be wrapped up in personal appearance. We are all so much more than what we look like. But by the same token, it is unhealthy to be obsessed with the idea of not caring what you look like. In other words, neglecting your personal appearance can also become an unhealthy obsession that harms your self-esteem.
What Others Think Can Matter
Article after article decrying the modern obsession with physical beauty make some particularly good points. However, many of them go too far. Their authors don’t know where to stop. The reality of life is that what others think can matter in some situations. To deny it is to deny nature.
If you were a criminal defense attorney who thought nothing of showing up in court dressed in a stained T-shirt and ratty jeans with holes, do you think the judge would take you seriously? Of course not. He would throw you out of court and tell you not to come back until you were dressed properly.
You wouldn’t even have to take it that far. An attorney who shows up to court with stained, dirty shoes will not be taken seriously either. He may not get thrown out of court, but his colleagues will not respect him. That’s why companies like GC Tech make slip-on dress shoe covers.
Making an Effort Matters
What this all boils down to is effort. If you make absolutely no effort to present a good appearance, others can tell. Their first impressions of you will be less than flattering. Whether or not you think that is right doesn’t matter. It is human nature.
On the other hand, making an effort to look presentable will show through even if you’re not wearing the latest fashions or sporting a glamorous hairstyle. You don’t have to be a supermodel to make a good impression.
Being obsessive about personal appearance is a ticket to low self-esteem. But by the same token, completely letting yourself go is equally harmful. There is a good middle ground worth trying to find.