Tell Me

We’re all playing along and accepting that we need to be somebody more attractive. But is different better? And will different really make us love ourselves more?
Photo Credits: Background from a self-portrait of Rashaad Newsome, Modified to fit me
August 1, 2023

Tell me I’m lovely,

And that I’m disarming,

Tell me I’m shapely,

Flawless and charming.

Tell me I’m radiant,

The portrait of youth.

Please tell me I’m perfect–

But tell me the truth.

—me

It’s been said that aging gracefully is a lost art. As Kevin Hart blatantly jokes about it in his latest stand-up, surgically changing one’s appearance in a dramatic way was once upon a time something we only associated with Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson. Nowadays, it seems everyone and their neighbor is getting something done, and not just once but consistently. New procedures, new treatments, new injectables are popping up and being utilized faster than they can even prove their efficacy.

The easy answer to explain this disturbing phenomenon is pure vanity—that and being victim to the media’s portrayal of the ideal face and physique, whether of 20 or 60 years of age. But there really aren’t ever clear-cut answers to questions involving human behavior. As we’ve archived endless photographs of ourselves over the past decades, has it become too unsettling for us to see our faces change over time? Is it a question of grieving our innocent carefree youth? Are we clinging to a sliver of hope, envisioning our current (married, professional, or social) life better if our appearance were that much closer to “perfect?” Is this our way of not facing a deeper insecurity we feel in living our human existence?

It seems women—and men now—of all ages, are being (or allowing themselves to be) sucked into this vortex of pressure to look a certain way. And with social media now accessible to children, the age is becoming alarmingly and devastatingly younger and younger. We’re all playing along and accepting that we need to be somebody more attractive, no matter how attractive we may already be. But is different better? And will different really make us love ourselves more?

I’ve witnessed myself nit-picking “flaws” and bothered to such a degree that I get anchored to the ground and all inklings of enthusiasms in my life are extinguished. But I believe we can all relate when I say that I’m fed up with my cruel inner-critic. I’ve got a life to live, of peaceful morning walks with Lazybones Babs, playtime with my everything of a daughter, endless books to pore over, and summer escapades in which to lose myself with hubster Javi. There comes a moment when…

Enough

Is Enough.

The extent of our self-value has become Face Value! Sometimes we’re so caught up in the constant “magnifying glass” view of ourselves that we can’t step away and see ourselves with fresh eyes. It’s as if we self-defeatingly catch ourselves at our most vulnerable and least opportune moments, in order to justify this need for a change. We neglect the fact that social media portrayals of beauty don’t depict the everyday quality of life. Social media only reveals snapshots of climactic moments meticulously produced using carefully prepared makeup and hair, proper angles, lighting, and filters. We don’t take into account that the subjects of these depictions are NOT in their daily reality. And we don’t realize that our day-ins and day-outs do not always demonstrate the best version of ourselves. We have days our haggard and stressed selves emanate through our skin and expression. But then we have good-hair, good-face, and good-mood days that betray our self-sabotaging self-dialogue, and suddenly we’ll catch a relieving glimpse of ourselves and love what we see.

It’s a torturous love/hate dichotomy: if we do something to improve our flaws, we’ll love ourselves more; and if we don’t, the hate will perpetuate and fester. Typically, it’s more an issue of middle age. We reach this stage when we have more responsibilities than ever, and suddenly undesired physical changes creep to the surface. Young is easier. Older is easier. The middle, however, not so easy.

When we don’t see ourselves as beautiful, what we can do is hold steadfastly onto our dignity. When we “change face,” we are giving everyone, including our children, a message. We are explicitly announcing that “just as we are” is not ok. Our obsessive need to idolize and worship others’ beauty and then control our own is out of hand. We seem to forget that our “imperfections” are what actually make us beautiful and loved by others. WHEN WE HOLD OURSELVES PROUD OF HOW AND WHO WE ARE, WE ENHANCE OUR POWER OF ATTRACTION AND LET OUR BEAUTY SHINE FORTH NATURALLY, ELIMINATING THE NEED FOR FIXING, TWEAKING AND CONSTANT REPAIRING. A great posture, a contented smile, and a deep appreciation for our true selves are all we need to get the attention we crave, especially when it’s our own.

For more on this topic—>If Sex Sells, Buy Yourself

So maybe I don’t need anyone to TELL ME. Maybe I can reverse in my mind this abominable trend and lead myself to a whole new kind of thinking. I’M HUMAN, I CHANGE, AND I KNOW AND CAN SEE THE BEAUTY THAT IS ME. EVERY DAY AND STAGE IS NEW AND JUST AS FASCINATING.

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