Society’s supposed standards and our stride towards inferiority complex
Originally all humans are born with blank minds but with the course of life, they start to imitate what they are taught, trained and instructed on that blank slate.
“You should lose your weight”, “you need to gain weight”, “You are giant”, “oh you petite dwarf”, “terribly pale, very black” and so on so forth. These are the mundane remarks that we hear and receive from strangers and people we have familiarity with, no matter what we do and how hard we make efforts to offer an impression of having the perfect physical outward show, deep down we know there is a blemish that’s obscuring our entire being. It’s not your tale alone or mine; every individual has to withstand the very identity crisis some point in one’s life and the deep-rooted cause of this particular approach is our ambient.
Our society has established some standards, a criterion what every person must attain if wants to survive; Beauty Standards. It’s a sinister reality of our lives; we devote our great deal of time and endeavours in making an adjustment to our appearances in order to bring a range of changes to our bodies that are supposed to embrace societal beauty standards. These standards are cultivated in our minds by our society from the cradle what continue to trail for the rest of our life. It must not be a surprise for you to take note of the scathing words by immediate-family soon after a child is born; “what’s the colour of baby’s skin”, “does the child have beautiful skin”, like this and like that.
Here, I recall my meeting with a girl from the psychiatric department. At first glance, she appeared perfectly normal having an attractive face comporting herself. However, having gotten close to her, she and her family didn’t quite seem to agree with my proposition. This girl uncovered her head, and astoundingly it was shaved; upon inquiring, her family provided a prolonged account of her troubled behaviour and psychological illness. As per her family, she had been picking on her body ad infinitum; she discovered wrong almost with every body part and even once tried to distort her own nose. Next thing that they pointed out was her weakness with beauty cosmetics, but they didn’t come to hospital owing her this behaviour, they revealed. According to them the one and only reason for bringing her to the hospital was her rage and her bad-tempered disposition. Most of the time she spent in her room doing makeup to modify or improve her appearance but a bit confrontation and she would lose her control breaking things and injuring herself and her siblings.
No matter what we do and how hard we make efforts to offer a perfect impression, deep down we know our flaws obscuring our entire being.
For me, it was a bit peculiar because her physique was thoroughly under physical beauty standards yet her discomfort with her appearance was beyond my comprehension. So, I tried to build rapport focusing routine chitchat, once she came into comfort, she started unbosoming herself. Long story short, that girl was a victim of the inferiority complex. According to the client, her sisters were comparatively good-looking to her least attractive face. This constant realization made her into cosmetic to alter her appearance when it didn’t help, she felt disgusted, resultantly internalizing that angst. Notwithstanding, how long a person could simmer without letting one’s feeling exude? And that what she betrayed. She commenced translating her anguish into her behaviour. First, she assailed her own body but having failed to rectify, she turned to a target that in her opinion was liable for her condition, her family. It was her acting out that ended her up in the hospital.
It was a onetime meeting, despite the fact that there was as much as necessary further to dig out but I had to leave for my next project. However, coming out of the hospital, I had a thousand questions in my mind. How she got there? What milieu turned an innocent child into a rampant mischievous who was ready to distort her own face? And I found my answers in psychodynamic.
It should come as no surprise seeing a new born baby being categorized in varying beauty standards by one’s immediate family.
In psychology, the term “tabula rasa” or “blank slate”, is used to refer to a belief that originally all humans are born with blank minds but with the course of life, they start to imitate what they are taught, trained and instructed on that blank slate. A child is never born with an innate desire to have an ideal face or body, as a matter of fact, the term of perfection doesn’t make any sense to his uncontaminated mind but a constant prompting from environment begins affecting his lens to view the physical world with. Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychotherapist who coined the term ‘inferiority complex’ for the first time; ipso fact, he derived and explained this term from his own childhood experiences. According to Alfred when a child is surrounded by more competent and proficient peers, he develops a sense of resentment towards them. To beat that jealousy and compensate for the deficiency, he would make efforts to outmanoeuvre them.
This sense of not having adequate puts a child in a never-ending race of contest, in a war with himself and with the world. However, after failing to get hold of a preferred outcome, that child would grow inferiority complex, without doubt, building a fertile soil for an assortment of mental complications. Growing rates of suicides in youth and conduct disorders are some of the ramifications of this inferiority complex. One thing to bear in mind, not every human being develops mental illness given inadequacy and longing for perfection; sometimes a people finds a healthy way to get over their inferiority complex, for instance, an adult infected with polio might seek to appear in a competitive examination- mental proficiency counterbalancing physical inadequacy.
Inferiority complex or constant struggle to meet the criterion of physical beauty standards greatly damages a person’s self-esteem. Individual simply nullifies one’s existence, and to handle this particular frame of mind, gratitude must be entertained. To enhance the sense of worth, individual first will have to start accepting oneself. If you don’t acknowledge yourself how are you going to expect any different from others? Trusting your children and offering them unconditional support would release them of a draining burden of expectations and competition; the more they would accept themselves, the stronger they would create and explore opportunities. Children must be cheered for their individuality and uniqueness and be reminded over and over…