Is Beauty Only Skin Deep?

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written by LA Jamison


Houston, We Have A Problem

Christmas is that time of year when we find solace in places of the heart such as being with family and friends. We also look to the beauty of the season itself. The beauty of a new fallen snow. The beauty of tree lights and neighborhoods lit up like airport runways. We “ooh” and “ahh'“ at lavish parades, homes decorated to the max, and the new apparel we are sporting. In the coming new year, many of us will focus on goals surrounding our health and bodies to better “beautify” ourselves. If we ever move into a comparing mode, it is the new year. We often ridiculously compare ourselves against models—who can spend their whole lives perfecting their body. Crowded gyms in January testify to it. Empty gyms by Feb-March testify to the unsustainable nature of trying to live a super model’s regime, at least for many of us.

The phrase “beauty is only skin deep” suggests to us that outward appearances aren’t really a good guide to someone’s character. I’ve been thinking of this wise saying for years along with one that goes something like this “true loving is experienced by loving someone from the inside out”. This is opposite of what our culture espouses (but a lot of that is money driven in order to have us buy products). It is no revelation to many of us that true long-lasting love is when you love someone from the inside out. One might go, “Duh, tell me something new!” But how does that work exactly? How does that manifest in our daily lives? See, I believe if we really understood what that meant, we wouldn't become so down on ourselves and insecure about body image by that hot Facebook and Instagram post or a model spread. Honestly, I think these sayings are easy to say, and an ideal philosophy we admire, but hard to put into practice.

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Psychology Today did a survey in 2017 to examine American’s sense of self worth and body image. They say this about this the topic:

“When most people think of body image, they think about aspects of physical appearance, attractiveness, and beauty. But body image is so much more. It's our mental representation of ourselves; it's what allows us to contemplate ourselves. Body image isn't simply influenced by feelings, and it actively influences much of our behavior, self-esteem, and psychopathology. Our body perceptions, feelings, and beliefs govern our life plan—who we meet, who we marry, the nature of our interactions, our day-to-day comfort level. Indeed, our body is our personal billboard, providing others with first—and sometimes only—impressions.”

This rightly suggests to me that the beauty we look to have on the outside goes deeper than a diet plan. It suggests a beauty that must stem from the inside-out and yet we don’t know really how to go that deep and make such authentic transformations. It requires hard work (not of the gym kind) so we rather tug at outward quick fixes and pills and powders.

With 4, 000 responses (3400 female, and only 600 males) here are the results from the Psychology Today Survey:

Fifty-six percent of women say they are dissatisfied with their overall appearance. Their self-disparagement is specifically directed toward their abdomens (71 percent), body weight (66 percent), hips (60 percent), and muscle tone (58 percent). Men show escalating dissatisfaction with their abdomens (63 percent), weight (52 percent), muscle tone (45 percent), overall appearance (43 percent), and chest (38 percent).

The survey largely found that most dissatisfaction is with weight. In addition, they asked these people that if they could exchange years off their life for the weight loss they wanted, would they and how much? The answers were yes.

Fifteen percent of women and 11 percent of men say they'd sacrifice more than five years of their lives; 24 percent of women and 17 percent of men say they would give up more than three years.

The article by Psychology suggests and monitored people’s response to media fed images too saying that “the media play an important role as a cultural gatekeeper, framing standards of beauty for all of us by the models they choose.”

67 percent of the women who are dissatisfied with their bodies say that very thin or muscular models make them feel insecure about their weight very often or always (versus 12 percent of body-satisfied women). Sixty-seven percent also say models make them want to lose weight (versus 13 percent of body-satisfied women), and 45 percent say models make them angry or resentful (versus 9 percent of body-satisfied women).

*referenced article appears here https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199702/body-image-in-america-survey-results or go to this link PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

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Solutions: Personal

I post this as a lost boy myself. I am not unaffected by our culture that is obsessively focused on physical appearance as a means to ultimate happiness. And its not without its benefits. Its exciting and entertaining…it just so happens to not lead anywhere but to a life of hook ups, dead ends, and shallow relationships. It is a daily challenge for a single guy like myself to not subject myself to it, and I will admit I more often fail than succeed. However, there is hope growing on the horizon for me. A lot of singles apps have become hook up apps. A congregation of people who are looking for "fun" and not relationship. I only just realized this year that I play along with that in these apps but it is no longer what I am looking for. I never have been. See, for years, anytime I got some guy interested in some sexual connection, I always noticed what has become a growing sense of relief when it didn’t happen. It has grown so much now that I would be a fool to ignore it. It finally registered to me this year that this is not why I am on these apps at all. Rather, it is what I have been settling with. I am personally here on this Earth for more and it felt good to come to this realization.

When we chase after someone based from sheer physical appearance alone, we cheat ourselves out of the love process. If you have ever loved from the inside out, you know that the object of your affection becomes beautiful not only despite any physical imperfections (according to outside standards) but often because of those imperfections. It makes them unique. I too have experienced this. Love is a transformation of your perspective. Your heart is transfixed not on a body but a soul. It doesn’t exclude the body but is rather a vehicle of the soul you love. Love is not selfish. It does not seek out more than it needs, it does not boast, and often gives more than it receives to the other person. Love thinks outside itself and thus in that giving receives actually more than what self can give to itself. That is a beauty that is more than skin deep and its worth more than a model’s paycheck. True love is priceless.

There is nothing wrong with outer beauty. I mean I go to the gym. I have body goals. However, when we are led only by physical attraction and that becomes the center of what we seek or the only calling card we answer to, we short circuit the love process. It is easy to do because where love from the inside out transforms our perspective because we see through the eyes of love, physical standards of beauty seem to do that for us without us ever having to take the risk or do the work of building a relationship. Love is real sugar: skin deep beauty is Sucralose. It is not real. It mimics the results of the transformation of the real thing. The work of the love connection is by-passed, leapfrogged over. Instead, the propagandized image produced by society of thin and muscular (or whatever it is for you) comes before us and we falsely believe we know this person and are in love by the sheer physical standards they meet off our subconscious check list. However, it is not the real thing and when the reality of real personalities that are selfish collide, it is not pretty. The connection was based on a cheat--skin deep beauty. Relying on skin deep beauty is selfish as we see the person largely as a sexual object to please us. We bear ourselves in hopes to have the acceptance and so even in our giving to that person, it is still a selfish need to see them accept us the way we want to be accepted by them. This is why when someone asks me what type of guy I am into, I don’t have a solid answer, which frustrates those trying to match make for me. I do have some things that attract me for sure but ultimately it is really the person that attracts. Outer attraction plays a role but as suggested earlier, even that stems from something inward and not just outward. Everyone looks for an attraction, but we need to ask ourselves what is our attraction based on?

A long time ago my own body was under a lot of stress from a undiagnosed health condition for well over a decade and loads of stress. I did not look well. Now, I’m completely transformed through both inner and outer healing work and some self-love and dare I say pampering. This isn’t often talked about but when you have engaged in a lot of unhealthy negative stress and bad self talk, you have to engage in some self-love and pampering of both soul and body. Take advantage of every circumstance you have to do so. It can be as simple as more baths to more massages, spa treatments or a gym that encompasses it all. Take up some therapy or grab some self-help books or tapes or even find a mentor. Psychology Today also has some tips located at the end of the survey that may or may not be helpful. Here is the link again Psychology Today

Beauty isn’t only skin deep. The best kind goes much deeper. It reaches to the heart, the cradle of love that makes a bond so strong that if your partner's genitals were cut off in some freak accident, or they lost a limb, you wouldn’t up and run but love them all the more. Why I am saying this? Because this is the kind of the love I hope to achieve with someone one day and I pray I don’t settle for anything less. What about you?

Solutions: Corporately

Our world has to change. Yet, we are the world. Each and every one of us. America itself stands on unnerving precipice with an Administration that is rolling back long held standards to our physical health causing unprecedented environmental and human health concerns.

The business world is our problem. An example of this is that despite researched findings that models in magazines (like Vogue as an example) are part of an epidemic in girls who are compelled into illnesses like bulimia to look like them, these corporations refuse to be part of the change. Despite the findings presented directly to companies like Vogue, they refuse to change. We have a “businessman” for a President who refuses to listen or change and is threatening the very foundations of our democracy. Our House and Senate are more controlled by corporate lobbyists than the American people.

Until we demand change at the voting booth and begin a revolution of getting corporate America from turning this country in a dictatorship centered around greed, we are subjecting ourselves to their whims. We are giving corporations their wish to see corporate entities as persons with the same rights as a human being. It is already happening. Corporations have no desire to change unless it effects two things—votes that effect money and where we spend our money. We must find a way of effecting change through those two areas. This means becoming wise voters and supporting movements that are about such change. It also means being wise about where we put our dollars and being vocal to these corporations about it.

America needs change. We are America. We are the change. We are the ones we have been waiting for and we must act.