I never really liked mirrors--mostly because I see all the imperfections it reflects each time I look into one. Needless to say, I hate seeing myself on camera, too.
But, by and by, I learnt to care less about what people saw in my reflection and more about what I represented behind my mirror image.
I'm able to say that now as a more confident, mature 35-year-old who has come to realize that there are more pressing issues to fret about than what others might think if I looked more like Susan Boyle than I do Kate Moss. Besides, I'd much rather be able to sing like a bird than smoke pot.
Still, back in my teenage years, I remember how a handful of my classmates would skip meals to lose that few pounds and be constantly preening in front of the mirror. Anyone who was able to shed some weight was congratulated and it became an obsession for a couple of my friends. That obsession eventually escalated into anorexia. It suffices to say that not all of them emerged unscathed from the eating disorder.
Looking back, the preoccupation with image seemed so frivolous but young minds are especially sensitive to even the slightest of criticism. A problem that might seem trivial 20 years on could easily be deemed a matter of life or death in the eyes of an angst-filled teenager.
And I'm concerned that these issues are now further exacerbated in this new digital, high-tech era.
Last week, I read a local report on a Singaporean blogger who took pride in being svelte. He weighs just 60kg at 1.73 meters tall and still doesn't think he's "thin" enough, and is aiming to cut his weight by another 7kg. Metabolizing on a daily intake of two meals in the form of bread, salad and instant noodles, he was repeatedly voted the country's most popular blog.
He once led a Facebook group that touts "get thin or die trying" until administrators on the social networking site shut his group down earlier this year, alongside a warning that it won't condone "groups that are hateful, threatening or obscene". Regardless, he rebuffed suggestions that he's endorsing anorexia, noting that he merely wants to be "as thin as possible" because it's glamorous.
This blogger may not admit to supporting eating disorders, but there are several others out there who are more than willing to provide tips on becoming anorexic. Just do a quick Google search and you'll find people seeking advice--and getting it--on how to be anorexic.
It's a troubling trend, especially now when there seems to be an increasing emphasis on being fashionably thin and trendily youthful.
A local female actor recently appeared in a TV drama that was filmed on high-definition video technology. Viewers unapologetically slammed the 41-year-old artist for her wrinkles, which were, well, now more highly defined on TV, and called for the celebrity to firm herself up with botox shots.
As if mirrors aren't bad enough, it's terrifying to think what other human imperfections future technology will further highlight and seek to help remove, which plastic surgeons, I'm sure, will be more than happy to utilize.
It's more frightening to think what kind of society these new technology may eventually help create--one that's skinny, wrinkle-free and filled with plastic and silicon?
And why can't the person who came up with high-def video, instead develop a technology that can remove the 10 pounds that the camera puts on you?