Psychology behind Appearance
Life Style

Psychology behind Appearance


In a world, where people say appearances don’t matter; Looks have an impact on every individual’s life. We humans always have a thing about first impressions. First impressions hold a very remarkable power. Though we keep on saying Appearances are deceptive; Appearances do influence and impact our lives in various ways. This article will take you through the various aspects regarding the Psychology of Appearance.

To begin with, let’s first understand what is appearance. Appearance can be referred to as an individual’s outward physical characteristics like facial features, hair colour and style, body composition, what an individual wears and the other accessories etc. It could simply stated as how an individual wants and wishes to present themselves to the external world. Psychology of Appearance can simply stated as what, how and why aspects of an individual’s looks and appearance impact the way they think, feel and behave either positively or negatively.

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Importance of appearance

The world as ours is a complex and competitive environment. This ecology tends to influence our thinking (cognition), feelings (emotion), acting (behaviour) and the way we respond and reach out to others. The way you are and what you wear can create a greater influence on how you and others perceive you.

Appearances do affect the demand for employment, interpersonal relationships, social relationships etc. It can influence your achievements and success. Research has also stated that appearance or looks can even affect human happiness it seems. So, that’s how important and impactful appearance or our looks are. It has a significant impact on forming first impressions. It has a greater influence on having social interactions and attraction towards one another.

How does Social media – Appearance affect Mental health?

Social media is a booming platform that’s been used widely by almost all of the age groups. Social media has a multifaceted face that offers so many things either positively or negatively. As much as positive things social media holds, it widely has a pessimistic influence. It makes an individual look more presentable with the addition of filters that create an alternative reality. It has the potential to affect self-esteem. It holds the pressure of being presentable and perfect almost all the time. This creates a pressure. It at times has a constant comparison and urges to bring envy and jealousy among individuals. This would create a distorted perception of an individual’s own body. This would tend to create a distorted image perception. This leads to increased doubt about the individual’s self-comparison and self-esteem.

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Cultural Influence on Appearance

Culture refers to the norms, values, and perceptions that a group of individuals hold onto and get transferred to the upcoming generation. Each culture and its traditions have a huge impact on the appearance. In turn would influence mental health. Different cultures have different sets of standards regarding appearance. And that has an impact on the individual’s mental health. Culture sets standards for beauty and desirability. A look or perception that seems desirable in one culture might not be the same in the other culture.

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The appearance includes the clothing and the other accessories combined. Certain cultures consider traditional clothing as a form of ideal value or norm while certain cultures consider that as an old-fashioned model. And, at times the same remains vice-versa. Culture does have an impact on gender-wise expectations. It goes has gender differences or equality in terms of appearance standards and expectations. Culture does play a central role in shaping the perception of an individual’s appearance and remains a diversity in the standards of the world.

Physical appearance and interaction

Most of us would have either experienced or been a victim of a practice where people generally have an attractive or optimistic outlook towards people with attractive facial and physical features. This isn’t just for women but also includes men. Researchers state that it’s women who are into significant contemplation in terms of appearance standards compared to men.

This physical appearance influences the way we have a first conversation with another person. Also, in terms of work- where interviewer may have a halo effect towards attractive compared to less attractive yet qualified individuals. The halo effect is a general perceptual distortion or cognitive distortion where most often people consider attractive people more positively than less attractive individuals.

The physical appearance also has an impact on the individual’s relationship standards. When some men and women treat each other mutually with respect, it wouldn’t remain a problem. But when there exists either men or women who are more conscious about appearance or beauty standards like presentable looks, weight gain or loss, latest standards of beauty, that would create a considerable impairment in the relationship they hold onto.

Because of all these impairments and significant influences, individuals in the modern era have started getting into appearance alteration procedures. These appearance alteration procedures include body transformation programs, bodybuilding programs, weight loss programs and at times cosmetic surgeries. The mere impact of media and celebrities celebrating the fit and appearance or perfect body, shape and colour becomes an endorsement among the public. This in addition engages people in appearance alteration procedures and processes.

The media people, societal influence, cultural norms, peer influences, and social media standards- all these remain as a motivation for people to look too much into the appearance aspect. This increased attention or unwanted attention towards appearances has created many issues and problems with the mental health of individuals. Most mental health issues that individuals have include anxiety, stress, depression, communication problems, and fewer social interactions when they feel that their appearance doesn’t meet the standards. This in turn would create a narrowed self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is one of the mental health conditions that an individual experiences or has increased attention towards appearances and overlooking flawed physical aspects. This generally affects the activities of everyday life.

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As a closure, appearances have a deceptive yet significant impact on the lives of individuals. Though we say appearances aren’t important. Regardless, it remains a potential aspect affecting many aspects of us. It’s the current era where tend to see a significant and positive arc of change about the body image and standard representations of beauty as well. Together every one of us should try to understand the various aspects of appearance and create a community and world that fosters optimistic living regardless of the varied appearance each one of us has.

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