“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”
― Leo Tolstoy
I have written in the past about my attempts to become a body-builder when I was in my early twenties. To make a long and boring story short I worked out like a bomb for almost two years and looked virtually the same as when I started. It didn’t help that every wall was a floor to ceiling mirror. I tried everything – eating emasculated chicken, dieting, water pills, and supplements guaranteed to pump me up like a helium balloon. Apparently the patented molecules had never encountered anything like my bird-like metabolism before, for after two months of drinking that vial sludge after every meal, all I could show for my efforts was that I had apparently lost the ability to have a bowel movement. That made me gain weight but not the kind of weight that I was going for.
There is no end to what some of us will go to in order to look good on the outside. And I’m not here to do a social commentary on makeup and Lululemons and Helly Hansen. Don’t really care about slamming you for how you dress or how much you spend on lipstick and stuff. I may never truly understand how that eyelash medieval torture device works but I support your right to attempt to use it without pinching your eyeball.
But here’s the deal. There is no end to what some of us will go to in order to look good on the outside. It’s no big deal when you’re talking about what kind of boxers you buy to wear outside your shorts. It’s a big deal when it leads to pride and elitism. It’s problematic when it defines how we feel about ourself. It’s horrific when it leads us to do anything in an attempt to fit in.
Defining ourselves by what we see in the mirror has been rammed into us by the stick-figured girls in the media who still manage to pull off a six-pack with their Botox and fake breasts. Men photoshopped into perfect thousand dollar suits and new cars with a brainless bimbo on each arm. Culture tells us that this is success, that this is beauty. Those of us with stretch marks or bellies, with poor cheek bones and weak chins will never measure up. If you don’t believe me take a look at Travolta or Shatner or Elton John or Joan Rivers. They have mutilated their hair lines and faces just to pretend to not be aging. They are paying thousands of dollars to fight a fight they cannot win.
We are all getting old. Deal with it.
Apparently a man’s nose grows his whole life. So do his ears. At some point I’m going to look like Dumbo. Not much I can do about it.
I am listening to the audiobook, “The Game”. It’s a textbook for pickup artists teaching them how to get any woman – the things to say, the ways to act. I have no intention of using this material, I use it to warn women that they are targets. The book is replete with tactics including how to make the desired mark feel worse about herself, how to separate her from her friends, how to ignore her until she begs for your attention. I wrote about some of this in the article, “How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women In Their Twenties”. At the time I used my oldest son as a consultant and now I’m a little freaked out how much he knew without ever knowing this book exists.
The point I am trying to make is that the system for belonging, for finding love, for feeling valued, is largely screwed up. We lie when we date, seeking to put our best foot forward. We look for love in all the wrong places. We think love can be found at a bar. We judge each other by what we look like. It’s all a game, a psychologically damaging contest that dismisses the best of us, the brightest, the kindest, the most worthwhile… the unbeautiful.
I am conscious that for many of us, we have struggled our entire life to fit in and feel good about how we look and who we are. We have never been satisfied by the look of our shell. Here’s the bad news.
You probably never will be.
The opposite of bad self-esteem is not good self-esteem. The opposite of bad self-esteem is self-acceptance. Esteem follows acceptance, not the other way around.
These are your cards. You can diet, eat right, work out, take bowel-clenching supplements, but that won’t change how you feel about you on the deepest levels. If you don’t believe me ask a skinny person. We are a generation with low self-esteem and insecurity. It is a plague that is propagated every day, every time we turn on a computer or a television.
You will never be able to compete with Photoshop. Maybe it’s time to stop that treadmill, take your toys and go home.
Imagine if we tried our best then didn’t care about the rest.
Imagine if we could care less about our love-handles and flaws.
Imagine accepting ourselves exactly how we are, in spite of what we look like.
Imagine the freedom.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross