Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder? Pt. II

written by LA Jamison

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I've mentioned this story somewhere before (I can't remember when or where) and it bears repeating. In my twenties, one day I was sitting at the mall waiting for my mother to finish work and I was people watching. I always like people watching and it's one of the reasons I love airports.  Two very muscular, gym-birthed-looking guys walked past the scope of my retinas, and my immediate inward response was this longing and dread. The longing to have the body they had; the dread because I was so far from that in my view.  At this time, it wasn't like I hadn't tried working out but no one had shared with me that in my teens and early twenties you can have a metabolism that is pretty much a non-stop freight train.  You can eat yourself out of house and home and not gain a pound and I did that without gaining a pound. It is why so many teenage boys resort to things like steriods to put on muscle despite the devastation it will do to their bodies in the long run.  Even so, I was fortunate in this moment that I was in an open space inwardly. I both heard and saw in my psyche what I call a God moment.  It was as if the creator of the universe or whatever you personally wantto call it said, 'Son, look here.'  In an instant, I saw that thru my eyeballs that I would see and experience the world from my inward man not from a consciousness of my physical body.  90% or more of my day to day existence would not involve deriving any kind of perspective or esteem from a stacked body but rather what was imprinted on my mind, ego, spirit. These imprints would come from a number of sources and mostly inward ones.  In that moment, I realized I could have been sitting there in Arnold Swartznegger's body and still felt not enough. Still judging myself.

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An example of this is one young guy who really was my first gym buddy/mentor back in the days when on the inside I was a mess of need and insecurity.  He was more built than I was and I was not only attracted to him but wanted him to mentor me.  Yet, there were would be times I would come into the gym and he would be noticeably down, lamenting that even I had bigger arms then he did. I did not, of course, but he couldn't see that all the time because he was so obsessed with an inner sense of lack that he couldnt reconcil so he projected outward.  He had the male body up on a pedastal, a body constructed by society that said "Only this---->here<-----is hot".  I.E. will get you the acceptance you crave. I didn't realize it at the the time but we both were looking to outward beauty to bring an inward change.  When it wasn't happening for him, what's left but to keep trying and trying and trying to improve where you lack. What folly!

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The question that would be best to ask ourselves is this, "Is the definition of beauty being defined FOR us?".  Children will lead the way to that answer.  Back in 2012, it was estimated that 1 in 20 boys use steriods to build muscle. (article here). It wasn't just athletes but an equal amount of non-athletes.  Gay teenage boys were found in a 2014 study to use steriods even more than their straight counterparts because it is speculated that there is more pressure to fulfill society's standards as beautiful for gay men (article here). In another article, 64,000 teenage girls are said to get plastic surgery every year (article here).  I share these three points and articles because when you want to see how sick a pattern has become just look to see how it is being reflected in our children and their behavior.  It is always very telling because they look to imitate adults.  It begins at birth.  For example, most people think a baby naturally smiles but it actually learns to do that by seeing the parent do it.  It was once thought that things such as smiles were natural and emotional but research has proven otherwise.  Most everything is learned and it is our natural state to imitate more than we realize (article here). America itself is a role model for other countries. We are such a strong role model for some countries that even Asian women are getting surgery to look more like women in the West, despising their own wonderful features!  It doesn't get more horrid than that.  (article here).  

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I am not saying we shouldn't workout or improve our health or bodies regularly, but rather it is the constant focus on it for self-esteem and the acceptance and rejection of others where we get into trouble. We learned in pt. 1 all the other standards of beauty in various countries, and we even learned that the pressure to be thin in this country doesn't mean you are healthy. I think the above picture is pretty telling of the message I want to give you in this series.  Look at how the hand grips the eye, controlling where it looks much like our society and media does to us.  Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, otherwise, there wouldn't be different, diametrically opposed standards of beauty across generations and countries.  We have all seen couples where we might be tempted to wonder what the attraction is because in our eyes we can't find much outward appearance of beauty.

Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there is a strong influence on how we define it and that comes from our culture.  There is a certain amount of mind control we need to see and break from.    Like the picture above, people and companies looking to make money have jumped into our line of view and taken a hold of our eyes. They try to direct us to what they WANT us to define as beauty.  Something that is always out of reach,  if not impossible to have unless you are a model yourself. Why?  SO THAT you will buy the products, join the gyms, pay the trainers, pay the doctors to achieve what they say you don't have.  It's all about the money, money, money.

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I ask you, is there any stronger message than you are not enough or you need to be more? I don't really think so because, for most (not all) people, we experience some kind of wounding sometime in our life where we are given the message "you are not enough".  That is not an easy one to heal, and I bet you if the solution was months of sit-ups to heal the inside of you, people would be as on board with sit-ups as they are now under the delusion that a hot body will make them "more than enough".  There really is no stronger message than you are not enough, that you need to fix yourself.  This is the driving message behind all, if not most, sales ads.  They are geared to our core wounds. Nice hey?  So when you pick up that Men's Magazine, GQ, Cosmo, or Women's Health don't be naive believing everything in there is to help you, to model for you what you want to become. Most of it is to hit the core wound of what you feel you lack and get you to buy that magazine or product to "fix" it.   

If I may end this series on a spiritual note: whether you are Christian, Buddist or Muslim, Hindu, Native American or what have you, there is a common message you can find that will help you rise above this so you can be healthy, working out and not weighed down by trying to look like a super model. It is this: we are earthly vessels on a spiritual journey. From a spiritual point of view, being born perfect isn't a reality or a requirement. The more you have it "made", the harder it is to have an authentic spiritual journey.  Jesus said himself that it is easier for a camel to go through a very tiny hole than for a rich man to find heaven.  Fixing yourself so you are "more than enough" physically isn't what you are here for unless perhaps modeling is part of your career.  For most of us, however, that isn't the case and even if you are a model, you don't want to rest your laruels there because we all age.  There are people who achieve great outward beauty and that is essentially their reward and where the reward ends because you can't have both an obsession with outward beauty and an authentic spiritual journey.  Spiritual journeys say our eyes aren't to be focused on such obsessions.  They are oppossed to one another.  This body of ours is armor for an earthen journey, plumbing with all the fixings and we want those healthy and can keep ourselves healthy and looking good should we have the means.  But if that is where our eyes are set rather than the unseen things of the spiritual world, we will not be experiencing the fullness of living our purpose but the empty rise and fall of the shallow tides.  We will continue to try to pull in and add-on from the outside those things that might appear to satisfy the inward man but don't last. It's a deception. We must push out from the inward man our healing on the inside through the divine and throw off those worldly things that would weigh us down as if our treasure was stored here.  This is where true freedom is. This, for me, is what makes me satisfied in a world that, as in the famous commercial, says "Stay hungry, my friends".   We do want stay on a path of going from glory to glory, to new levels but there is also the danger of the consumer mindset that says what I have and what I am is not enough.  This is what the media wants us to buy into so that....well, so that we will keep buying things, stuff, programs, etc. 

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Start today by looking in the mirror and saying even as I am right now, I am enough. I am more than enough to the God who created me to be in this very moment as I am. I won't stay here in this moment, I will move from glory to glory but at each level, I am more than enough for my God and for me.  If people put half as much time into the healing work of their inner man as they do their bodies and clothes, what a more loving world we would have!