Looking Good and Overall Health

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The society we live in today faces huge healthcare burdens from the effects of obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s gotten to the point where we equate unhealthiness to being big, fat and ugly. In fact, human perceptions of attractiveness and health differ between cultures and across historical periods.

why is health important in life

Taking care of your health

The society we live in today faces huge healthcare burdens from the effects of obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s gotten to the point where we equate unhealthiness to being big, fat and ugly. In fact, human perceptions of attractiveness and health differ between cultures and across historical periods.

Contemporary accounts indicate people were aware of the harmful effects of sugar on teeth, which resulted in a deliberate blackening of teeth by many rich, fashion-conscious Renaissance people to prove how much sugar they could afford.

Why is health important in life?

However, recent studies have proved that a truly healthy human is looked upon more favourably and deemed more attractive to the opposite sex.

Parasite Theory of Sexual Selection

According to the parasite theory of sexual selection, parasite-resistant organisms are preferred because they produce genetically parasite-resistant offspring or provide better parental care to the offspring. Thus, the parasite theory suggests that the beauty of bodily form is perceived as a cue to high parasite resistance by animals in choosing mates.

Secondary sexual characters are evolved outcomes of sexual selection. There is a link between parasite resistance and secondary sexual traits because sex hormones, especially testosterone, lower immunocompetence. Whereas high testosterone is necessary for the production of large secondary sexual traits, only healthy organisms can afford the high testosterone handicap on the immune system that is necessary for the production of elaborate sexual traits.

The human face contains secondary sexual traits that develop or increase in size at puberty under the influence of the sex hormones, androgens and estrogens. Enlarged jaws, chins and cheekbones in men are examples of facial secondary sexual traits that are influenced by testosterone, and largeness in these features is considered sexually attractive because of advertised immunocompetence.

However, there is evidence that both symmetry and averageness of certain facial features are important in the attractiveness of women’s faces. Women use makeup to make certain features more average (e.g. nose size). Symmetry of features is also a major goal in making up the face.

Cheekbones appear larger with makeup while a smaller than average chin and larger than average lip size are seen as attractive. Women displaying these characteristics have high estrogen and show a hormonal profile of high female fertility.

The Psychological Perspective

Abraham Maslow ( 1908 – 1970 ), an American psychologist who developed a Hierarchy of Human Needs (shown as a pyramid) contended that humans have a number of needs that are innate.

Maslow assumed our needs are arranged in a hierarchy in terms of their potency. Although all needs are innate, some are more powerful than others. The lower the need is in the pyramid, the more powerful it is. The higher the need is in the pyramid, the weaker and more distinctly human it is. The lower, or basic, needs of the pyramid are similar to those possessed by non-human animals, but only humans possess the higher needs.

The base of the pyramid is formed by the physiological needs, including the biological requirements for food, water, air, and sleep.

Once the physiological needs are met, an individual can concentrate on the second level, the need for safety and security. Included here are the needs for structure, order, security, and predictability.

The third level is the need for love and belonging. Included here are the needs for friends and companions, a supportive family, identification with a group, and an intimate relationship.

The fourth level is the esteem needs. This group of needs requires both recognition from other people that results in feelings of prestige, acceptance, and status, and self-esteem that results in feelings of adequacy, competence, and confidence. Lack of satisfaction of the esteem needs results in discouragement and feelings of inferiority.

Finally, self-actualisation sits at the apex of the original pyramid.

Beauty is the most personal criteria of self-esteem. Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of self-confidence, strength, worth and being necessary in this world. Thwarting these needs produces feelings of inferiority, weakness and helplessness. Possessing these feelings give rise to either discouragement or neurotic trends.

Reversal of the hierarchy is common. When a need has been satisfied for a long time, this need may be under evaluated. In light of health, people who have never experienced disease and disability are apt to underestimate its effects and to look upon health as a rather unimportant aspect. If they are dominated by a higher need, this higher need might put them into a position of being deprived of a more basic need – which in this instance, is good health through proper dieting and sufficient exercise.

Taking a hypothetical person, who by undergoing an aesthetic procedure to satisfy his or her fourth level of self-esteem, is now able to increase her satisfaction at the fourth level of self-esteem. Subsequently her increased self-esteem may empower her to reevaluate her view of the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. It can be either at the level of the security and predictability of having a longer life without disease and disability, or a longer life in the company of her loved ones. He or she can place either one as more important than the other, or both as equally important.

Another possibility is that as he or she may have learnt not only from the media, but through personal knowledge, that not maintaining good health will directly affect one’s aesthetic look over a period of time. Thus after going through the time and expense of reversing the aesthetic outcomes of aging and poor health, he or she will now work harder to maintain what she had regained. After all, they know that history repeats itself, but opportunity doesn’t.

Dr Dana Elliott Srither MBBS GDFM

Physician in Anti-Aging and Aesthetics

The Anti-Aging and Aesthetics Clinic

Secretary, Anti-Ageing and Aesthetics Medicine Society of Singapore.