THE SELF-IMAGE WAR: THE BEAUTY WAR





Most of us have been watching others participate as well as participating ourselves in the “beauty war”. In our grief of “ugliness”, we compare ourselves to Barbie look-a-likes, the Marilyn Monroe ideal, or the current model of the day, and other such examples of beauty shoved at us from “perfect” models in the latest fashion magazines. But, we must remember that it is all in our perception. I have often said that I wish I could see myself through the eyes of those who love me. But, are we not to love ourselves as well? If we don’t take care of ourselves, then there is nothing left to give others, says the old adage.


Just as every little thing is beautiful in its own way, so are all of us. Each house with its unique structure is lived in and wanted by someone. Each flower with its special blossom smells sweet and appears beautiful to someone. (Even dandelions are enjoyed by children!) Each animal with its distinguished character and look is cherished by someone. (Even Pumba, the warthog, is cute in his own way. And, he teaches a wonderful lesson in “Akuna Matata”. Just listen to the words.) Each perfume, with its distinctive smell is purchased, worn and appreciated by someone. Each unique profession, career, or vocation is chosen and valued by someone. And so on …


We don’t want all of our houses looking the same. Some of us prefer a Cape Cod, while others prefer a two story, while others prefer a different architecture altogether. All structures have their own specific positive characteristic! And, so do we as human structures. We need to grab on to that positive characteristic, hold on tight, play it up as much as possible, and convince ourselves that what we have is beauty. The world believes the notions that we put out. If we love ourselves, the world loves us. If we hate ourselves, then we become insecure, angry people that the world has difficulty loving as well.


We need to accept ourselves so that our adolescents can accept themselves. I learned a valuable lesson one day from one of my students. I have fought a weight issue all my life, and usually use the defense mechanism of self-deprecation and humor to handle it. In my middle school English classroom one day, I made yet another off-hand comment about my weight. One of the girls came up to me after class and said, “Please don’t say those things about yourself. I’m about your size, and it makes me feel bad.” Wow! I had never thought about how my own personal feelings affected others. That was powerful for me. Then, I connected that back to my own children, who were still in elementary school at the time. They, of course, look like me. They carry my genes. I learned that day to try to remember to transmit positive vibes about myself, not only for me but especially for those that love me.