Ladies. Allow me to clarify a few issues. Many of you have innocently mistaken capitalism for beauty. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s just that companies cannot sell you what you already are. Whether it’s a clothing brand, a plastic surgeon, or a company that sells makeup and creams, their customers are either people who don’t like how they look, or people who are afraid of losing how they look.
That fear is about not being good enough, or not fitting in. That’s what motivates us paying these high emotional and financial costs for our appearance. People selling something need to help us feel ugly or worried each season so they can sell us a whole bunch of pants, tops, skirts and dresses; to replace the pants, tops, skirts and dresses everyone already worked hard to pay for.
Of course, if we weren’t working to buy these things, or were not in the act of buying them, the question is: what would we be doing with our lives instead? Because for at least some of that time, we’d likely be out having fun.
It’s no coincidence that advertising by clothing and cosmetics companies etc. presents models so heavily photo-shopped, with pore-less skin and lengthened legs, that it is entirely impossible for a woman to actually look like them. It has to be impossible for you to chase it your entire life.
Men are also influenced by those images (as well as the ones targeted at them). So everyone has to remember, when a photo or video is suggesting that this or that will make us more attractive, we must remember that the real intent of the advertising is to try to draw our attention to everything we’re not.
There is nothing wrong with loving sexiness, but it’s become entirely over-valued in society. While sex is important in most relationships, even if we have it a lot of it, it still only represents less than 1% of a couple’s time together, so it can’t be the basis of the relationship.
Yes, it’s true that a very young man will put up with some emotional agony for time with a ‘hot’ girl. But by the time he’s in his late twenties most guys know that the more a girl works to be beautiful, the less likely she will be to feel beautiful.
The major downside to women striving to be some media-based ideal is that she’ll often look to the guy she’s with to bolster her self-esteem and eventually that gets tired. In the end, while men can fall for the mirage of beauty, very few men have any interest in ‘high maintenance’ women. Like women are, they’re far more likely to enjoy time with a confident, humble person who’s at ease with themselves. Occasional support no problem. But propping up gets exhausting.
Of course, advertising tries to connect beauty to confidence by talking about the woman being desirable. But confident women don’t need men to tell them they’re beautiful. They simply love themselves, and rather than attack themselves, they remember that there is no shortage of men who love all kinds of women.
Lots of men prefer chubby women over skinny women. Or funny girls more than pretty girls. Or trustworthy ladies more than jealous ones. Or smart women more than shallow women. Or socially conscious women more than selfish ones. Or friendly women more than fashionable women.
Our lives are made up of what is in our own consciousness, so no one can really live with ‘skinny’ or ‘fashionable.’ But our psychology can certainly live with people who are funny, trustworthy, smart, social conscious or friendly.
Once people live long enough to realize that beauty really is just a social construct, then they can surrender their belief in it. When they do they also learn why a stretch-marked, confident forty year old woman is often much sexier than a ‘hot’ twenty year old with low self-esteem.
By forty a wise woman knows life is short and she wants to have fun. So she asks for what she wants and she doesn’t care about a guy’s opinions any more than her own. She’s focused on what she would like from the experience rather than on how some guy will judge her.
None of us should let our cultures convince us to stop being ourselves. Girls in Polynesia and parts of Africa had lovely Rubenesque figures. That was their version of sexy. That’s what they found natural and their men were attracted to. But then TV showed up and started pitching products.
Not surprisingly, those companies are always trying to get us to do the impossible —that’s what keeps us all on the treadmill and buying their products. It’s like a carrot tied to a stick, strapped to our head. It’ll always be dangling in front of us. No matter how many purchases we make, we’ll never get there.
The effect of commercialization and giant ad budgets is that now girls all over the world want to be just like Western girls. They want to be skinny, have whiter skin, whiter teeth, and no hair on their bodies. All because they got taught to be that way.
But do you want to know what a confident, clear-headed, truly desirable man finds attractive? I don’t know. Because it’s different for every man. Which is why a woman should be herself —an individual. Because otherwise the confident man who would be attracted to her won’t even be able to find her because she’ll be performing a character while dressed like a mannequin.
We all need to stop thinking about what’s acceptable. Ladies; start assuming a strong woman’s confidence. People thought Madame Curie should be a housewife instead of a female scientist, but she was a scientist anyway. People thought Betty White should be dignified in her old age, but she was ribald and funny anyway. And you thought you should be fashionable, but your fashion should be what you like and feel comfortable in.
Modern society is cruel, judgmental, greedy and selfish. It is a largely a product of one of its primary forces, which is advertising. No woman is ugly and none are beautiful because there are no such things. There are only perspectives and the judgments we choose to make from them.
It is only because of mass media that some perspectives were made to appear to be more valuable than others. But in the end, the most important opinion about your life should come from you. The rest is just people talking. So do not turn their talk into your self-talk or you’ll lose yourself in trying to please others. There are better ways to live than that.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.