Beauty and perfection

I’ve often wondered at what point in the evolving of human beings did perfection of the physical become the most important. I watch the lengths one will go to for what they think others will see is perfection. The lengths they will go to to feel as if they look better. I watch the struggle of human beings to be “perfect” and am going to write my thoughts on it here.

Does one get plastic surgery, trying to match how they feel on the inside?

Are they trying to mask how they feel on the inside by altering how they look on the outside?

Is the outside a disguise for an ugliness that is inside?

It would be simple to point our fingers at social media, television, advertisements of victoria’s secret models and say, “That’s the reason.” The bombardment of our senses of hashtags and photoshop and filters to make a “perfect” person. It becomes harder and harder to love ourselves when the focus of that love continues to be ONLY on the physical side.

I see the rise of surgeries that put one at risk for death just to have bigger breasts, smaller and straighter noses. Human beings even inject a toxin (botox: it actual has toxin in the name of the product), to erase the wrinkles around our eyes and mouths and foreheads. A person will now go under general anesthesia and months of recovery for elective procedures. It’s ironic to me because due to my muscle disease I am at a high risk of death (malignant hyperthermia) for a surgery so I go above and beyond to try and protect myself from any surgery potential. My bones are brittle due to osteoporosis. My biggest fear is breaking a bone, having to have surgery, and dying! Yet, bigger breasts and liposuction thighs are done on a daily basis.

Is it because in the years of our youth we feel was wasted on beauty without wisdom? Now that we are older we want the beauty and the wisdom to go hand in hand?

Is it that we finally know ourselves and want to look how we feel we should which is different than what we do?

Are we trying to hold on to what was?

What makes us, us?

It is none of the above.

Our physical bodies do not make us who we are.

Maybe for some they think it does. Perhaps some think their entire identity is their body, the job they got because of their body, their good looks that let them rise in their careers. Maybe for some people that have succeeded based on the perception of their beauty and that pushes that further into their identity. But an identity could not be further from our physical selves. The sooner a person learns this the better they will become and the more they will contribute to society’s shift to the realization:

Our self worth comes from our self love and how we unconditionally love others.

In 1996 I was on bedrest after I went into preterm labor. I watched a lot of TV, something we didn’t even have before I went into labor. We got TV to keep me entertained as I lay flat in bed for a month. 22 years later I still remember a talk show I watched. A man was a pilot and they showed his photo. He was, by all society standards, the perfect man. His plane crashed and he was severely burned and blinded. He comes on stage and the audience gasps at his appearance. He was severely scarred and had glass eyes. They then brought out his girlfriend who had been his nurse in recovery. The show focused solely on what he did look like prior to being burned and what he looked like now. In that focus was the fact that his girlfriend was overweight, obese they stated, and how they fell in love. It eluded to the fact that if he had not been scarred and blind he never would have chosen an obese woman. It eluded to the fact that by her weight she could have never been able to date him before he was burned. The gasping of the audience…imagine how it made that man feel after years in intensive care and countless surgeries, to then be exploited. Well, he was on the show. I don’t know why. They tried to make one point and all I heard was another.

That show has stuck with me for 22 years. The implications that when he was deemed perfect before he was burned, he never would have dated an overweight nurse and that she could have never won the heart of such a good looking man before he was burned appalled me. The whole thing horrified me. It made the assumption that his entire life and hers for that matter were a sum total of their physical selves. It didn’t matter what either of them felt in regards to morals, values, honesty, integrity, etc. it just mattered what they looked like.

Last night I watched a documentary After the Fire about burn survivors of a college dorm. It was an incredibly made documentary about the perseverance of these two young boys as they recovered from severe burns. These two boys now go to schools and educate others on their story. They volunteer at the burn unit to give others inspiration to still fight. It touched on some subjects of how they would kind of reintegrate into a society that stared at anyone who is different. And people did stare. It made me think of myself in just a small not very significant experience where others stare at me in my scooter. This documentary brought to the surface feelings I have had my entire life of how beauty is perceived to be and what true beauty actually is.

Some of what we perceive as beauty is learned, watched, taught by our parents, bullied into us by our peers, proven by those who move up the ladder in jobs. Some of what we perceive as beauty is a feeling within ourselves.

Those who are blind cannot judge based on appearance. Those who are burn victims would not want to be judged by their appearance. Yet we have so many human beings altering their appearances to feel perfect. And I still ask why. Self esteem? Self worth? Circumstances that have led to body dysmorphia such as abuse? And how do we teach others that self worth and beauty does not belong as a stamp of our physical bodies?

This post was just written to get one thinking. I think about these types of things all the time. I don’t remember a person by their size, the color of their eyes, or the wrinkles on their face. I don’t remember a person by their clothing or their hair style or their wheelchairs. Have you ever been in love and thought a person was beautiful and then when you fell out of love you thought they were ugly for the pain they may have caused? Have you ever thought that beauty as we perceive it is based on how a person makes us feel about ourselves?

I do not judge those who have altered their outer appearances to feel more beautiful.

I am more bringing attention to the idea of beauty residing on a person’s inner being and not their outer being. Their acts. Their intentions. Their capacity to love. Their unconditional loyalty. Being humble. In the world we live in today those aren’t attributes that are highlighted, but should be.

I find beauty in empathy, compassion, and random acts of kindness. I find those people authentically beautiful. It won’t matter to me if that person is 100 lbs or 400 lbs. It won’t matter to me if they are scarred by a fire. I’ve never “judged a book by it’s cover.” I guess it is just my hope that as we evolve as human beings, others will stop judging a person by their physical appearance or ability too.

As a hospice volunteer and chaplain for 8 years I sat with some of the most beautiful people I have ever met. Elderly individuals in nursing homes. They shared with me their true selves. I saw their true selves. I held their hands as they passed away and I can promise you that the clothes they wore and the size of their bodies DID NOT MATTER. It never should have. And I will leave it at that.

26 thoughts on “Beauty and perfection

  1. I agree. inner beauty is what matters to me most. how a person makes me feel, and how I make them feel, my volunteer job has taught me a lot of valuable lessons. all people want is support, love, kindness, and friendship. xo

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Its so true Bethany. I think sometimes the most overly physically obsessed people – or one in general, need a wake up call. Mine came in the form of my diagnosis in 2013, I was that young, physically fit mom, loved to run, etc. Now, it’s not that I do not care totally about my physical appearance but I do care a lot less about it now. I see that my mental health surpasses that completely.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bethany…….this is such a deep and thoughtful post, a post to me points out what is truly important in life. You also do a wonderful job pointing out……..what is true beauty? In society we are told what beauty is……….it is put in front of us on pages of magazines at a grocery check out lane, it is paraded on TV and for some reason “we” accept that as the standard of beauty. For those of us who work hard just to make it through our days understand what true beauty is………a kind word, a thoughtful card, a beautiful flower, a pet that cuddles, a hug from someone who cares.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Your post is so true. I have struggled since my teen years with deep acne scarring due to cystic acne. Not a pretty picture at all. I would never leave my house without having make up on. It was my shield from the people that would stare and whisper about me as I walked by. Many times I would cry myself to sleep, praying that one day people would see beyond my scarred looks to see and get to know the real me. Many years later, I have a daughter who has had a serious case of acne (I love heredity!). We were able to get her acne treated and she has limited scarring. But the thing that has made me so proud of her – she never once hid behind make up. She is happy with who she is. Her wonderful personality is so beautiful, no one seems to notice anything else. So, you are beyond right. People need to stop focusing on our outer selves and take the time on who we truly are. Kindness and unselfishness are two of the most beautiful qualities. Thank you again for sharing. As you can tell…. this has special meaning to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story. And that of your daughter too. How absolutely wonderful that she is happy with who she is.
      I think we have all struggled at one time or another with our exterior. At this point in my life as my exterior is falling apart I notice more and more beauty in the clouds, and the animals, and the hearts of others. I’m so sorry you cried yourself to sleep. No doubt because others were cruel to you and made you feel self conscious.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing this. Body image is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I was raised as a beauty pageant contestant and model. I worked as a model in my twenties. My self-image and self-esteem have long been tied to my physical appearance. I am currently forty pounds over the “ideal, healthy weight” for my age and height. My body is aging and my neck is sagging. As hard as I try, I look in the mirror and cringe. I refuse to have my photo taken. I know the beauty that counts is all that you wrote – it’s our inner beauty that matters. I also have body issues related to my childhood sexual abuse. I continue to work on trying to accept my outer appearance as it is, to be okay with it. I know that part of loving myself is loving my body, and being grateful for all that it can do. It’s difficult, but I won’t give up trying. I hope that one day I can look in the mirror and see the beautiful person that lies within my physical form. Thanks again for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is SOO difficult to break the binds of that connection. I still work on it every day with a past of an eating disorder and also being tied to my body’s physical appearance for a modeling portfolio and for my waterskiing job. Very difficult to break those ties.
      I wax and wane on it. I gained 40 lbs and it took me time to embrace that but I finally did. I did a post on my blog about body image where I posted myself 40 lbs heavier accepting that new me.
      Then I lost it all and more. Now I am having to accept that part with the muscle atrophy and yes the sag. It is something that I am constantly working on. I don’t let my thoughts wander on the issue that’s for sure. Thank you for sharing your story

      Like

      • I struggled with bulimia for thirty years. I no longer binge or purge, but I still have the impulse to reach for food as a means of not dealing with uncomfortable anxiety or emotions. I hope someday I will be able to accept and love my body as it is, though I still need to lose the weight for health reasons.

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      • The fact that you can resist that impulse though is so powerful. Isn’t amazing to reflect how far you’ve come that you no longer purge or binge. That’s amazingly inspirational

        Like

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