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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Look and Feel Your Best

When it comes to looking your best, there are numerous ways to optimize your appearance. It is commonly known that those that look better, feel better; so optimizing your personal appearance is something that should be as much a part of your daily routine and long-term goals as brushing your teeth and health.

It would be disingenuine to not start this set of advice without a disclaimer: appearance enhancements are just that, enhancements. Nothing can replace the most important aspect of appearance- self-care. Of course, all of the things we’ll discuss come after a well-balanced diet and exercise program. After all, many people make the mistake of thinking they can buy their way to health, but this is not only not economical, but impractical: for example, liposuction will often leave scars. Put simply, there are no absolute-win shortcuts, nor an amount of money that can replace the personal responsibility of maintaining your health. If the prospects of scars or other imperfections in the realm of appearance-optimization aren’t enough to convince you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, rich in a healthy diet and regular exercise program, one should think of what is “underneath the hood.” Some of these procedures, especially liposuction, are avoidable if one practices proper self-care in the first place; negating the risks of such an invasive surgery, let alone saving money and recovery time.

It’s well-known that the appearance of beauty has changed in drastic measures over the past three decades, and while society (or perhaps much more arguably so, culture and the media) have decided that “thin is in,” there is certainly a line: many models have resorted to anorexia, and many celebrities have turned to drugs, in order to stave appetite and maintain a (albeit very finite) thin appearance. Most millennials are not unfamiliar with how to take body measurements for weight loss as that is how ingrained being thin equals to being beautiful. The long-term consequences of these shortcut approaches to looking good are clear: given one decade, the tell-tale signs, both in health and overall appearance, show. Put simply, many appearance-enhancing methodologies should be seen as just that: enhancements, not the foundation.

All of the above being said, once you’ve got a good lock on your personal health habits, optimizing your appearance is the logical and sequential next step to looking (and feeling) your best. Looking and feeling good are certainly intertwined, and the best practices vary heavily based upon your specific demographic and circumstances. What is in your closet should be dictated by several things: your body type, your goals, and your budget. You should buy clothes that complement your physique, not try (immediately) to have your wardrobe be complemented by your physique, which often backfires. Thankfully, fashion advice is obtainable from a wide range of people, whether it be the thousands of sources available on the internet or your sassy coworker. Ladies, this might be easier for you, as your inner circle of closest friends likely has several self-professed fashionistas. Gentlemen, good news: you’re not out of luck. The stereotype of having a fashionable gay friend exists for a reason. Let your straight friends mock you as they may, but when you have the edge over them in wardrobe, you can laugh right back as you end your nights out bringing home the lady you all collectively fawned over.

Now that you’ve got your wardrobe on lock, let’s look on where else we can optimize your personal appearance. Whitening your teeth is often one of the first sought out options, and for good reason: it is far from cost-prohibitive. To paint a much more clear picture of the “health before extras” mentality we’re trying to instill in you, and as described above, prior to undergoing a teeth whitening regiment or procedure, it would behoove you to take steps to abstain from smoking, minimize coffee use, and certainly maintain good oral hygiene practices. Teeth whitening procedures, whether done via brief procedures such as with lasers, or (much more commonly due to time and cost efficiency,) via do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits, often backfire on those with poor oral hygiene and subsequent tooth/gum sensitivity. Not only would you be wasting your money and time, but you’d put yourself at risk. The moral of the story: do both good “under the hood” self-care practices and then splurge for the personal appearance enhancement.

There are numerous surgical methods to slightly enhance your personal appearance. Some of these procedures are invasive, so your overall health is important. For example, if you have had a history of heart conditions, this could complicate anesthesia procedures for plastic surgery. However, a good plastic surgeon can modify the “frame” of your body to put the finishing touches on your overall personal appearance. Some areas of your body which are difficult, if not impossible, to modify or improve via self-care (and hard work,) such as your face, can be your reward for good discipline and habits with your personal health, giving you the edge, that extra little boost, to look and feel your best. And after all of your hard work, don’t you deserve it?

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