The collateral damage of beauty is ugly.

As a species, we excel at drilling into increasingly complex layers of our own systems: hunting and gathering into refined capitalism, primitive trading into modern economics, the base erotic impulse into the nuanced beauty industry. The latter, in its matrimony with the porn industry, chisels paradigms for our short and long-term gratifications and leaves them out to air. But while for the most part their services are regarded as the decorative escapism that they are, the bleeding of illusion into reality is potentially detrimental enough to justify the application of a personal buttress.

The beauty of each epoch is defined in accordance with both culture and geography. The present Western model peppers lithe, lobotomy-eyed lovelies into female aspirations and male fantasies — a reference point which, while distributed as entertainment, is nonetheless inextricable from, and continues to enforce, the template for everyday standards of attractiveness. Whether it’s film, photography or other creative mediums, it’s socially possible to perceive the reality gap between the two planes of the artistic and the authentic; it’s only when anti-mimetic mechanisms of sexual art influence actions in life at an individual level (i.e., porn as an essential vehicle to orgasm, unattainable requirements of beauty when considering potential partners, etc.) that the fictional realm begins to sire very factual issues.

Although beauty is now widely held as an expectation, it’s not an achievement. Incidentally, it is also not necessary to adhere to that expectation to possess strong self-worth. As the old guard of human data processing, the visual will always strut with pride concerning its ability to carry us from one generation to the next. But regardless of its evolutionary pedigree, physical beauty acquires meaning only through interaction between people — and yet, for this abstract irony, its insecurities are felt most deeply as a solitary neurosis which governs the self-perception of billions.

As imagery reaches saturation point in our climate of technological onslaught, one reconfiguration is important to remember. By displacing your worth from youthful symmetry to much less ephemeral qualities, your confidence undermines impact from a culture that enthrones something as mythical as physical perfection. Intelligence, wit, humour, strength of will, and professional success outlive all bodily beauties, and are not vulnerable to top-down hierarchies of form that leave you in constant comparative anxiety. In other words, to devalue your body in the context of your self-regard is the route of liberation to revaluing it, free from the constraints of communal criticism.

While the immediacy of appearance will always hold a large portion of social territory, it is not your responsibility to satisfy the ‘entitlement’ of others to canonical beauty, simply because the art that they consume dictates a style. And those who transplant the requirements of sexual art into the forum of physical reality are not just grasping at imaginary bait — they’re enslaved to their own ease of perception that follows a rinse-and-repeat formula. Let highwaymen and women who chase the light that fades pass you by — there are many stronger, richer and more rewarding fruits for the contentment of the self.