Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A question of beauty

No man is an island. I remember hearing this phrase when I was young and not really understanding what was meant by it. Now of course, I am older and more experienced, if not necessarily wiser and I know all too well what it means. We can pretend that we don't care what others think of us, (and in some cases of course we shouldn't), but in the end we are creatures of society and the feedback we get from others help form our view of ourselves throughout our lives. The trick, of course, is learning who to listen to and who to ignore. Somehow, as Julia Roberts character in 'Pretty Woman' says, it's easier to believe the bad things.

Learning to take a compliment with grace and believing it to be true was one of the hardest things for me to learn, especially when it was out of sync with what I believed to be true, with what I had learnt to be true from the feedback I had received. Growing up, I was considered a 'homely' child, a plain Jane and was often called an ugly duckling. I wore ugly national health service glasses. My mother cut my mousy hair short and I was always an unconventional child. Meanwhile my sister, had long flowing golden hair which was admired by all and I was always unfavourably compared with her.

I carried this self image around for many years and it took a long time to change it. Stopping reading womens magazines was a big help as these were images of women who I could never hope to emulate. It may sound stupid but it took me a long time to cotton onto the fact that these women spent hours having professional make-up and hair done and then were favourably lit and photographed and then touched up as well! Well, duh! Have you ever seen a super model without this treatment. She looks human doesn't she? I haven't really read a womans magazine for years. I consider them to be a mezzanine in Dante's Inferno.

Everyone has things about themselves that they would like to change. Some resort to surgery, others learn to live with their flaws. It depends on the person, it depends on the flaw I guess. I have learned to also focus on the things I like about myself. I have nice eyes, I think. An interesting green colour with flecks of hazel and grey around the pupil. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe this. So go and take a look in the mirror :)


Ps said...

Very rightly said Bob-kat.We should NOT carry the scars of childhood inflicted by those who knew no better.
Also I think if you have a kind heart and a happy smile, you are beautiful from inside--and finally thats what counts.(No amount of botox will chase away those wrinkles as you grow older)

Pointblank said...

hey... nice blog there. i have seen ur name pop up everywhere, but 'm dropping the first time. Liked what I read. And from wot I read, u must be having really nice eyes!

R. Sherman said...

Nicely said. I'm afraid on the whole, society professes an affinity for the "inner self" but in practice focuses on the external. Yet, the sooner we can ignore those things about us which society has predetermined to be "flaws" the happier we are.

Said he, who still periodically bemoans his own lack of stature which prevented an otherwise promising basketball career.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

What a GREAT follow-up to yesterday's post!! I love this!

You know, I think you're right. Reading all those magazines when I was a teenager and knowing I was SO unlike them that there had to be something wrong with me is a lesson that I continue to carry through to this day. No wonder I write about the people I do. Look at them: None of them fit in anywhere. All outcasts. So I'm giving them a home.

Of course, NOW I can read Cosmo and laugh, but it took a long time to reach this point.

Shephard said...

Bobkat, I love this post. It speaks volumes. And I hear you. :)
~S :)

kenju said...

Bob-kat, you have written a wonderful post. I have to put in a plug for young people who, although they are beautiful or handsome, don't see that when they look in the mirror. All of us need help to see the real person inside (the only part that counts).

Mar said...

Very well said, Bob-kat. I thought of this last Sunday as we met the new girlfriend of our friends' handsome son, the former had been described to us as a gray mouse... Well, she happens to be no top model, very short and very slender. BUT a sweet personality, vivid eyes and soft manners. Just wonderful, I thought. Those traits remain forever. And they count.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Isn't it terrible how we can be destroyed by these seemingly 'little' things...EXCEPT, they are not little. Especially when we are children and if we already have a shaky view of ourselves which has been given to us by our parents telling us we are not all that pretty, etc...! This really setys one up for a lifetime of pain and discomfort about omes looks!

And I must say, living in Hollywood has not been a place that gives one a feeling of confidence, And it was ever thus. For as long as I can remember. And Now, with ALL the many things people can do to "improve" (Not!) their looks----Botox, Collagen, Plastic Surgery, etc---It is insane, really! Here in Hollywood, you are overwewight if you are size 10 or 12....! It is crazy.

Overcoming these image problems is challanging, for sure..BUT, it can be done. Personally, I cannot imagine doing stuff to my face....My biggest fear would bd, looking in the mirror after some of those drastic proceedures and saying as I see the image looking back at me: "WHO IS THAT???" This would be horrendous. So, I'll hold on to this face and body and at least I know who that is looking bsck at me! LOL!

I'm so glad those magazines did not interest me as a young person....And they still don't!

BTW: I have a new post up my dear with some very dear Hummingbird pictures. I think you will enjoy these dear little birds.

Deana said...

Clapping!!!! Great post.

Dianne said...

wonderful post with a great message, especially for me today. I needed to shop for something new to wear to a special event and by the time I left the store I was ready to step in front of a truck.

It is terrible what negative self-image can do to a person - and I'm supposed to be older and wiser.


Niall said...

What a beatiful thing you have written ...absolutly true...beauty is in the eye of the beholder.One can primp and preen the external and paint the windows and doors all manner of colours..but if the inside is dark and empty..then all is in vain. I prefer to look inside..

Sonia said...

Just great post! Very witty and intelligent!

Sleepypete said...

It's one of those again where the people telling us how to think/act/be have nothing in common with how we actually want to be ;-)

Beauty is very definitely in the eye of the beholder. Some people will never be happy with the way they look and will try and fix themselves until they fit how the fashion crowd want to be. They'll keep mutilating themselves, even though they're moving away from what would actually be attractive. I've had plastic surgery (to fix a broken nose), never again ! Lol - shudder at hospitals ...

I know I don't look great, plus I'm a bit on the chubby side. However, I also know that if someone catches my grin, they'll often not be able to stop themselves slipping into a grin as well. That's gotta count for something :-)

gautami tripathy said...

I agree entirely with it. One needs to feel comfortable with how one looks.

A very thoughtful post. Glad Michele sentme here to read this today..

Last Girl On Earth said...

You are SO right Bob-kat. Although I DO admit the I enjoy reading magazines that give makeup pointers and such. But I believe I'm smart enough not to compare myself to the women in those magazines! I think you have an amazing attitude and I'm sure that shows, inside and out!

Michele sent me over today and I'm glad she did. I'm going to carry your thoughts with me throughout today as I walk around looking like a snow monster in 20 layers of clothing! Have a great weekend.

colleen said...

We look our best when we are happy and being natural. Outer beauty, as defined by our culture, fades over time but still we are not suppposed to get old or sick. What a pressure.

Sorry you had to comment twice at Loose Leaf. It sometimes acts like it didn't hear you when it did.

Carmi said...

I've always been partial to the so-called plain janes among us. It reinforces the universal truth that beauty takes many forms, the least of which is the esthetic.

Betty was always my favorite, anyway.

Your eloquently stated position brings to mind an experience I had in nursery school. I had a witch for a teacher. One day, we were cutting out photos from magazines. I had chosen a women with glasses and was cutting away. Witch-teacher angrily took the photo away, saying people who wore glasses weren't pretty. She substituted a photo of a perfectly airbrushed blonde.

Fast forward to adulthood. My lovely wife wears glasses, and she couldn't be more beautiful. Is she an airbrushed blonde? No. The models who walk the runways don't hold a candle to her.

Thanks for the reminder. Michele sent me on this lovely Friday.

craziequeen said...

Michele sent me to have a poke around Bob's house...

There is nothing about myself I like, and I still don't understand when MB tells me I am beautiful - even after 20+ years.

I would agree, you do have beautiful eyes... and a clever mind, and wonderful taste...I admire you, as a colleague and a dear, dear friend.