PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Advertisements for cosmetic products can greatly influence their targeted audience. The quest for perfection, however, can turn into an obsession beyond one's own self.
Many women have had their lives completely altered because of these advertisements and the persuasive messages they carry.
Account executive Arina (not her real name) is one such victim - because she had a mother who was obsessed with beauty advertisements.
"This is probably because my mom had a career which put a lot of pressure on appearances.
"Hence, she took it upon herself to do whatever she could to make sure my sister and I were completely flawless, at any cost."
Sounding a little hesitant, Arina said her mother forced her sister to go for rhinoplasty (nose surgery) when she was just 14 because a local model she adored had a nicer nose than her daughter.
"She put a lot of pressure on what we ate and the clothes we wore, and made sure we did not gain any weight as she believed we would not be able to find suitors who would accept us otherwise.
"I remember this incident when I was 15. I had developed a small pimple on my right cheek and the moment she noticed it, she went berserk and told me it would leave marks on my face and that I would be scarred for life!"
Arina said her mother immediately took her to the dermatologist, who gave the girl a cortisone injection in her face.
"Despite my complaints about the pain, my mom still insisted in taking us both to the doctor every time we had a pimple.
"It did not stop there, though, she was obsessed with all these products she saw on television and actually believed that they would be able to make and keep us happy," Arina added.
Asked what the most traumatising incident in her life was, Arina, with a quiver in her voice, said it was when her mother pushed her to get breast implants when she (Arina) was dumped by her boyfriend during her teen years.
"She kept telling me it was because I did not have an appealing figure that would please guys of that age. The guy I was dating back then was five years older than me, I was 19.
"She called me 'flat' and told me that a breast implant was in order. When I refused and threw a tantrum, she threatened to disown me.
"Eventually, I succumbed to her threats but had the implants removed once I moved out of the house," she said.
She said her mother, who was a loving woman, became obsessed with looks after Arina's father walked out on them.
"Mom always said that if we wanted a man to love us and stay with us, we should be able to attract him the way models and television personalities did.
"As she grew older, though, my mom toned down on the whole appearance issue and told us to just love ourselves for who we are," she said, adding that while her mom would still pressure them on appearance occasionally, it wasn't as bad as when they were in their teens.
Arina said while it was understandable that companies needed to sell their products, putting an unrealistic image on screen and then relating it to happy lives and healthy relationships was not fair.