“I hate his beard!”
“He should shave it!”
“It makes him look ten years older.”
“He looks scruffy and dirty in that beard.”
These were some of the social media comments made by fans of the BBC One drama Poldark about the bushy beard Poldark star Aidan Turner sported during the special sneak-peak event at the BFI Southbank on May 2nd.
Many of the Irish actor’s fans openly expressed their disapproval, their negative views and even their disgust although they were ‘fond of him.’ Not many seemed to care about what really matters—the fourth season of the heartwarming BBC drama series.
This has left me thinking of the pressure celebrities face every day as a whole bunch of strangers who largely contribute to their success try to dictate them how to dress, what makeup to wear, how to floss their teeth or how to scratch their butts.
People constantly and incessantly take the liberty to make negative remarks about celebrities’ looks as if they were products. They scrutinize them for flaws and judge their personal choices, forgetting that these, too, are humans who shave their legs, spend an hour in the bathroom complaining of constipation or probably even eat their boogers.
Humanity is mostly about having feelings.
The other day, I found a bit of an old article slamming Kate Middleton’s eyeliner. Yes, her eyeliner. The woman loves her eyeliner and, after all, she’s a duchess, not a makeup artist, so why should her eyeliner be anyone’s problem?
Many of us tend to voice similar opinions not only about celebrities, but also about close friends, family members and absolutely anyone, not realizing the damage we may cause.
We sometimes force others to obsess over parts of their faces or bodies which aren’t bad but simply considered flawed by ridiculous beauty standards that want us all to have the same nose bridge, the same set of teeth, the same bra cup size and the same waist measurement.
Practice putting yourselves in those people’s shoes every now and then—practice compassion.
I’m sure we’ve been there several times in our lives. We all have our flaws and our preferences and we all get criticized if we don’t follow the latest beauty trends.
I am no celebrity, yet I feel pressured by fitness coaches who assume I am at the gym to slim down my hips and behind (a.k.a. butt, but I was trying to sound polite.)
Even worse, when I tell them I love my butt and hips and prefer to continue to build muscle in this area, they start bullying me into focusing on losing weight instead and ‘achieving the glorious thigh gap,’ not realizing that even if I wished for a thigh gap, I’d need to either go under the knife or become anorexic.
There is nothing wrong with giving advice, but sometimes it isn’t your place to give it. When someone says they like the way they look, leave them be and don’t be the old aunt who wants everyone to shave their eyebrows just because it’s what she does.
And since I’ve mentioned eyebrows, let me tell you this story. Three of my friends find it necessary to nag me about my brows every time they see me. You see, in the Middle East, people are big on tattooed and microbladed eyebrows.
I love those friends and I’m sure they love me, too, but for a while, I felt pressured that every time I go out with them, I make sure I fill my eyebrows with a really good shadow—yet they never compliment them and insist that I get them inked.
I’m not big on wearing that much makeup every day or on casual occasions, but because my friends continued to make comments about my brows, I could not but obsess over them to the point where I was going to get them microbladed despite that I still don’t find it necessary.
For my thirtieth birthday, one of them booked me an appointment at a salon in Damascus famous for microblading eyebrows, which is something I might consider if my brows went extremely sparse, but I bailed out because the idea of having the skin near my eyes inked freaked me out.
I don’t have the perfect brows, but I love them just the way they are. Now that I’m in another country away from those brow-fanatics, I never touch my brows with anything but natural oils at night before I go to bed. I don’t even feel the need to fill or draw them.
We all deal with pressures of this kind almost on daily basis—thanks to the media and society’s unattainable beauty standards, so I can imagine how stressful it is to be a celebrity trying to please fans who might care about nothing but your looks, forgetting you could be a talented genius—if not, you’re still human.
Thoughtless remarks, combined with the media’s unfair judgments, are forcing many celebrities to go under the knife even when they’re not convinced they need it.
This article isn’t a call for people to feel good in their own skin—I believe we’ve all agreed on this already—but a call for compassion. Learn to leave other people’s looks alone and mind your own faces and bodies instead.
In my country, Syria, people say “El haki bi balash,” which literally translates to ‘there is no fee for talking.’ It is usually said in the context when people’s blabbing hurts you. Someone on your side would say, “El haki bi balash,” like let them talk and don’t mind them.
Yes, let them talk, but it does come at a cost. Their blabbing hurts others and there is always Karma to strike back.
This simple act of talking has the power to hurt someone’s self-image, make them feel pressured to look a certain way even when they are not comfortable about it, and force them to go great lengths in order to feel happy when they share their photos or even look in the mirror.
We’ve all tried having someone make us feel insecure about a choice that affected our looks—be it a haircut, a plastic surgery or a natural ‘flaw’ that we refuse to ‘correct.’
This means we should know better than to openly criticize people’s looks.
Maybe Turner doesn’t give a damn about what people have to say of his beard–actually, I’m sure he doesn’t–but I did associate with it as I read all those negative irrelevant comments. He’s a great actor no matter what he looks like.