I was standing at a self-pay station at the grocery store when a young woman approached me randomly, asking me, “Hey excuse me, can you help me? My nails are too long, so my credit card is stuck in the machine and I can’t get it!”
She held out both her hands to show me her long, sharp acrylic nails. They looked like well-manicured, sparkly talons. No wonder this poor girl couldn’t grab her credit card out of the slot she had put it in.
I grabbed her card out of the machine and handed it to her. She smiled, thanked me, and left.
I thought about this phenomenon for a while after she left.
Women, generally, have an innate and healthy instinct to maintain their appearance and enhance their natural beauty. Women universally tend to spend time and effort in maintaining their looks and caring for their hair, nails, skin, clothes, and general external image.
But in our modern world, some women take it way, way too far.
And here is the kicker: the modern capitalist world has successfully exploited this tendency in women for large-scale commercial gain.
The global beauty industry is a billion-dollar market. Female demand for beauty products will always be high, and can be made even higher with clever marketing techniques. So the beauty industry, comprising the categories of skincare, hair care, make-up, perfumes, toiletries and deodorants, and oral cosmetics, is booming.
In search of beauty and the social status that comes with it, many women subject themselves to strict daily and nightly beauty regimens and routines, and spend a good chunk of their hard-earned money on makeup products. They will happily wear heels that are too high and hard to walk in, clothes that are too tight and uncomfortable, fake eyelashes that sometimes obstruct their vision, and fake nails that hamper their ability to pick things up with their fingers.
And of course, there are cultural variations, too. In some cultures, tan skin is what’s hot, so women will subject themselves to tanning stations and tanning lotions that actually end up wrinkling their skin dangerously, in order to get that sun-kissed tan look. In other cultures, having “fair skin” is what’s in, so women will subject themselves to skin-whitening creams and potions that end up harming their skin, in order to achieve that “white” look.
But the desperation for beauty doesn’t stop there. There are greater measures that some women feel compelled to take, following the fashion trends and the lead of the Kardashian-Jenners: invasive plastic surgery.
In case you don’t know, there is a *massive* list of surgical procedures that you can endure to increase the beauty of your face:
Cheek implants (surgically placing a solid object over your cheekbones to give you bigger cheekbones)
Cheek filler (injecting various substances into the cheek area to make it appear more full)
Rhinoplasty (nose job, which includes surgical work done to the bridge of the nose, the tip of the nose, the width of the nostrils, etc)
Endoscopic brow lift (a surgical procedure to lift your eyebrows higher on your forehead, giving you a more “surprised” look)
Blepharoplasty (a surgical procedure to the eyelids, both upper and lower eyelids, to “open up your eyes more” and increase beauty of the eye)
Cat-eye surgery (so called because it’s a procedure that lifts up the corners of the eyes to give an up-tilted look, like a cat’s eyes)
Lip lift (a surgical procedure that cuts away some portion of skin between the upper lip and the bottom of the nose, to reduce the space between them, which is called the philtrum)
Lip filler (injecting various substances into the lips to plump them up)
Chin implant (a surgical procedure to stick an implant to the chin to make a stronger chin)
Chin wing implant (a surgical procedure to stick two long implants along both sides of the jaw to make a stronger jawline)
Buccal fat removal (a surgical procedure that takes away the fat pads that are underneath the cheeks on either side of the face to give the face a more gaunt, contoured look that models tend to have)
Face lifts (there are various different types of face lifts you can have to “reverse the signs of aging”)
Neck lift (surgically “reversing signs of aging” in the neck)
These are only some of the things people can get done, only to the face! Body plastic surgery includes many, many procedures done to the chest, backside, hips, belly, legs, or basically any body part. This list, by the way, is what the vast majority of Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities get, creating the illusion of physical perfection and beauty that the masses try to follow.
Needless to say, these medical surgeries are outrageously expensive. And extremely painful.
But some people get them. Why?
The female desire to attain physical beauty is natural, but when coupled with liberalism, hedonism, capitalism, atheism / secularism, moral relativism, low impulse control, and a mad love of the dunya, it is a recipe for disaster.
When there is no concern for the inner self (deen, iman, character), then concern for the outer self is all there is and that takes over.
When the state of the heart isn’t the focus, the state of the body will become the sole focus.
Allah tells us in the Quran:
خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ بِٱلْحَقِّ وَصَوَّرَكُمْ فَأَحْسَنَ صُوَرَكُمْ ۖ وَإِلَيْهِ ٱلْمَصِيرُ
“He created the heavens and earth in truth and formed you and perfected your forms; and to Him is the [final] destination.” (Surat At-Taghabun, 3)
This has to be the underlying basis for our attitude about our external appearance: Allah Himself has created us and formed us perfectly, just as He has created the sky and the earth. No surgical cosmetic changes are necessary. We are beautifully formed and healthy just as Allah has created us. Alhamdulillah.
And for wives, it’s wonderful to beautify yourself at home for your husband! Men are visual creatures, so yes, you should try to look good for your man.
But the best look is always the most natural. It’s always better to slightly enhance your natural beauty traits with the slightest touch of eyeliner (kohl), for example. Studies show that most men don’t find female faces that are covered in thick layers of makeup attractive, ironically. So keep it simple, ladies!
And the most attractive beauty traits are the least expensive: maintain a healthy figure by keeping your weight in the healthy range for your height, smell good, and keep yourself clean and fresh.
There is absolutely no need for you to waste your money and time on a whole array of superfluous beauty products with unknown chemicals in them. No need to go under the knife voluntarily for beauty. No need to wear fake nails that are so long that you are forced to ask strangers to help you pick up small objects.
And most importantly, having taqwa in the heart will translate to nur (نور, light) and beauty in the face inshaAllah.