Interesting article by Dr. Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist, author and public speaker who was previously the health and sex editor at Men's Fitness magazine. The article is called: "Why 'Pretty' and 'Ugly' Mean Nothing." It's barely an article, really, more a comment, that basically ends with some advice to parents of young people:
Dr. Vranich says:
"1. Take your daughters and sons to open dressing rooms. They need to see real people naked. (Yipes, during my last trip to Loehmann's, l was startled at the number of grandmotherly types sporting thongs. Note to my own mom: let's stick to boyshorts, okay?).
"2. Show your daughters how make-up and Photoshop work so you can bust the myth of perfection. Most women do not have the ridiculously long torsos of Shape magazine covers and turning bat wings into taut triceps takes lots of consistent work.
"3. Without being catty, make sure she sees those "stars without makeup" articles that magazines feature every once in a while, or "Just Like Us" columns that show zits and backfat (or strange discolored hands like Katie Holmes has, hmm).
"A reality check can be the best piece of advice we can provide in our beauty-obsessed world."
Okay, fair enough. I particularly like the last suggestion that reality can be the antidote to obsession, but then Dr. V herself uses the phrase "beauty-obsessed," and therein lies the problem.
What is beauty? And who "has" it? And who can see it? Are the so-called beauty-obsessed really obsessed with beauty? Or is it something else they're obsessed with?
Well, remember this - obsessiveness is a defense mechanism, and as such is an attempt on the immature part of an individual's psyche to solve an intractable problem. And like all defense mechanisms, it distorts a person's personality and ability to perceive reality. A young child, suffering the slings and arrows of being brought up by parents who aren't self-actualized (99.9% of parents, by the way), will very often conclude that its own inadequacies are the source of their suffering, because it's too threatening to face the limitations of their parents, upon whom they are utterly dependent for everything. In other words, in the child's mind, "If the problem lies in my parents, I'm screwed, because I need them and I can't control them to make them give me more of what I really need. But if the problem lies with me, then perhaps I can 'fix' myself, make myself 'perfect,' so I'll get more love and care, etc."
What happens? Needless to say, the child's attempts at self-perfection never bring more nurturance, so... "Maybe if I attached myself to someone else who's perfect, it'll be like I'm perfect." Thus begins the tortured, futile quest to find that perfect Other who will solve the childhood dilemma. And of course... it never works. Why? 1. Because the child's perceived imperfections were never the problem in the first place; 2. because love is never given in response to beauty, anyway; and 3. beauty does not reside in static, delusional constructs like "perfection."
"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion," said Sir Francis Bacon.
I love that. As Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says in Today's Quote, beauty is all about the light that shines through a person.
Eckhart Tolle talk eloquently about the beauty of flowers and why human beings universally agree that flowers are beautiful - because flowers straddle the boundary between form - which is dense - and spirit - which is light.
"As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a “silent sermon” once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it.
"Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless."
Yes. Let the light of your soul, of your True Self, shine through you, and you will discover your own genuine beauty. It's not relative or subjective. It is reality. The proportions and dimensions of your body parts, or anyone else's, for that matter, do not constitute beauty. It is the proportion of light that you allow to come through you that makes you beautiful. The arbitrary standards set out by the moguls of perfectionism are meant to trick the desperate child in you into buying whatever they're selling.
Don't do it.
Become the flower that you truly are. We need the light.