Opinion The Youth Issue

“Why can’t we resist copy and pasting ourselves into each other?”

The spread of cosmetic procedures is surreal.

By Noor Al Sayegh

Artwork by UAE-based illustrator Alia Al Hammadi stating “Filler without pain or surgery. Get rid of any features you or society don’t like. To book a session, call 04-1110**”

“By the way, we have a promotion for fillers and Botox for this whole week. Would you like us to book an appointment for you?” I paused for a few seconds and then mumbled, “Umm. No thank you. I’m just calling to book a laser appointment. That’ll be all. Thank you for your help …Good day to you too!”

I hung up the phone and imagined how many women had called the beauty centre to make an appointment like me and were told about that promotion. I also wondered about the lady that I had just spoken to. She had no idea what I looked like. She didn’t know my age either, or if I’m self-conscious or not. Needed it or not. She didn’t know my physical, mental, or emotional states. I didn’t blame her. She was just doing her job. What an offer though – with the cash that I had in my wallet, I was a phone call away from seeing a new version of me!

I was thrilled about experiencing my first laser appointment. Waxing is such a hassle. As I walked up to the room my therapist had directed me to, I saw a girl coming down the stairs. Her lips were covered with a tissue she was holding, and her hand was shaky. She had a nervous smile. She looked like she wanted to get the payment procedure done as fast as she could, and rush to her car. Was she overwhelmed by the new version of her, or was she in pain? I wondered.

I wore the robe that was laid out for me on top of the bed and waited for my therapist. I laid down, closed my eyes and remembered one of my friend’s experiences. Not with laser, but with bullying.

“Kids! Take your exam paper and pass the rest to your classmates!” My friend got her exam paper, but wasn’t quite sure where to look. There were two notes written on the page: one in the teacher’s official red pen on the right, another scrawled hastily in pencil on the left. She knew that the one in red was her grade, so her curiosity led her to the comment with the pencil. “Donald Duck MOUTH” was written under her name.

I opened my eyes and smirked. I smirked because I thought of how ridiculous life is. Years ago, my friend was bullied in elementary school because of her natural, God-given full lips. They had made her feel odd and insecure.  

But today is different. Today, full lips are praised because they’re in fashion. The fuller, the better. Young girls seek these lips, not just in the Gulf region; the influence is surreal everywhere.

What’s worse is that we can’t generally distinguish between what’s real beauty and what isn’t anymore because of how much cosmetic procedures are spreading. Everyone’s physical appearance is questioned today.  Naturals are questioned. People think they’re extinct. Who really believes in them anymore? Who believes in God’s work that isn’t interrupted by human hands? And is He getting credit for the beauty He has given us? Or maybe because He gave it to us without us asking, we don’t quite appreciate it. Maybe today people treat natural beauty as they treat free products: if it’s given to us for free it’s doubted, or not that valuable. But if we paid good money and booked with the world’s finest doctor, then that has got to mean something.

What I know for sure, in my friend’s case, is that her beauty wasn’t accepted or familiar back in the day. How I wish I could time travel to that day my friend got her exam and was judged by her physical appearance! I wish I could whisper in her ears, “What they’re making fun of today will be the trend tomorrow. Not that you’re unattractive today, but sadly, people recognise any sort of beauty only when a popular public figure says it’s in fashion, and not when God freely gives it to you.”

 I realised that what we forget is that no man-made work is better than God’s. He created us wisely, and took his time on us all. He has most certainly given us what will make us stand out in our own way; our features puzzled together to create a face that we can call our ownMy ownYour own. What a beautiful thing it is to own something that God worked on for you specifically. Carefully and lovingly. For you to wake up each morning and show it off to the world. His blessing for you. No matter what it is, an obvious one or even one in disguise.

Perhaps by the time people read this what is trending will have shifted again. Perhaps something new will have come out. But I leave you with this: why do we allow something as fleeting as a trend to dictate our worth? Why can’t we resist copy and pasting ourselves into each other, when we were born to be uniquely different? Why don’t we become trendsetters of originality – bring natural back, and give Justin Timberlake a new song to sing? It might become a hit, and he might win an award for it. Maybe then people will approve that natural is beautiful, and it’ll become a trend.

My laser session went great by the way. Painful, but totally worth it.

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.

Noor Al Sayegh is an Emirati writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services. She has found her passion through writing and has written a collection of reflections while she lived shortly in London. Noor is also passionate about charity and has started her own project called “Letters from Noor” where she writes encouraging words to people, believing in the Prophetic saying: “A good word is a charity”.