This is something that’s been on my mind. I thought I’d think out loud today.
Have you ever noticed how obsessed our society is with physical beauty? I’m sure you have. You can’t get around it. It’s brought to our attention as young children and the idea of being beautiful becomes a desire. How much we desire it varies from person to person, age to age.
Obviously, the pressure for physical beauty comes from many outlets… maybe it’s the barbies I played with for half of my childhood… maybe it’s the way I noticed pretty girls got more attention in school… maybe it’s my genetic make-up as a human… maybe it’s the make-up and weight loss industry that gains millions of dollars from us every year.Whatever it is, the pressure is there. We all feel it.
Have you ever noticed that on almost every TV show almost every character is one that 90% of the population will agree is attractive? Look at the Braverman’s from Parenthood. Look at the doctors on House, MD. I think what made love The Office so much was that the characters were much more realistic.
Most of us would agree that this pressure is more suffocating for girls than boys. For some reason we associate getting out of bed and throwing on clothes to be sexy for a man, rugged if you will, but if a woman did the same thing we’d say she doesn’t “take care of herself.” A woman is expected to put on make-up, fix her hair, stay up with the fashion trends, and be thin but not too thin.
I don’t believe the obession with beauty is anything new, but now there are so many ways to make us look more beautiful. It would be a shame not try them, right?
I mean, if I don’t like the way I look…
I can put some make-up on…
Or fix my hair in a certain way….
Or use a filter.
And if I am fully committed to being beautiful I could do things like spend hours in the gym everyday, buy the newest and greatest beauty product, hit the tanning bed, or maybe get plastic surgery.
No, I’m not implying these things are bad on their own. I just think it’s good to examine our motives. If we want to be more tan or more toned, why do we want it? Is it because we believe we will be more beautiful? If we are more beautiful, will life be better? Will we have more self-confidence?
If you asked me, I’d say yes. Sure, we’d feel a little better about ourselves. Until we notice something else that doesn’t meet the status quo. Did you know that most people who have plastic surgery are people who have had plastic surgery in the past? Why is that the beauty and weight loss industry are making billions of dollars?
Doesn’t it seem like we will never be enough?
From my own personal experience, the answer is no: we will never be enough if we constantly compare ourselves to others. We will never be enough if it’s physical beauty that we find our value in. In middle school I began to associate beauty with being skinny. After being told I would be “so hot if I lost 10 pounds” by a guy friend at 14, I was certain that was the case.But in the end being skinny left me feeling lifeless and not beautiful at all. Then it became about looking “womanly.” Have a curvy body, not look like a child. Oh wait, can I be curvy and fit? Can I make that happen?
In my post “stop waiting to love your body“, I shared my solution to body peace: forget about it. No, not to neglect my body, but to forget about the way it looks. Focus on how I feel emotionally and what I am capable of.
What they say is true, beauty is deceptive. When we crave physical beauty we become jealous. Jealous of those we think have what we don’t. We become consumed. Consumed with how we can improve our looks, often to the point of forgetting what we really value. We become self-conscious. We start to believe that if only we were more physically attractive then we could accomplish our goals.
I doubt this desire or attraction will ever really go away completely in us. We find joy in looking pretty on a date night or buying a new outfit that fits just right. We love to be told we are beautiful. However, I think it’s important to keep the discussion open. How does this pressure to be beautiful affect us? Is it causing us to be more insecure and less likely to feel comfortable enough to take risks? Is it causing us to be discouraged when our work outs don’t seem to be changing our bodies quite like we hoped? Do we spend too much time in the mirror, getting ready or just looking at ourselves?
For myself I have found that with age and a better understanding of society, I’ve definitely grown more confident. I believe and support the message that we can accept our bodies and not dwell on them, but simply dwell in them.
^Here I am after I came home from a run. I felt so good. My body was feeling strong and I was so proud that I had managed do as much as I did. When I look at this picture, I don’t see my “dream body.” When I look at this picture what I do see is me, my body. Average, but mine. Yet, I see more than a body. I see confidence. I see progression. I see happiness.
Can we begin to look past our the appearances of our physical bodies and look at what they have done? Can we see our whole selves and not just the surface? Can we begin to invest more in the soul dwelling in the body than in the body housing our souls?
I say yes. Yes we can. And when we support one another in this endeavor, we are far more likely to succeed. We can fight the pressure put on us as females to value our physical body more than or minds.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you agree/disagree/etc. Let’s keep this discussion open.