What do we expect will happen when we change our appearance?
How bothered are you by how others look? I know some people who, in my opinion, would look "better" if they used a different shade of lipstick, or cut their hair, or let it grow, or wore more makeup, or wore less makeup, or wore clothes that didn't make them look so fat, and on and on I could go.
Some of these people don't seem to care how they look. Others don't seem to know how they are viewed by others. Why should it matter to me?
Why should I presume to determine whether someone else is dressed to my satisfaction, or has features I consider attractive?
Years of Reading Magazines and Watching TV
Much of the answer lies in the fact that I've been watching and reading ads for 75 years and am fairly clear about society's standards. That has taken up a lot of my brain circuits. Now it is taking awhile to clean them out and replace them with plain old acceptance.
I want those who are bothered by their judgments of others to know that as I have learned to love and like myself more, I love and like others more. Of course, I'm not a saint yet. I still sometimes make snap judgments about others. But now I have a way to short-circuit those judgments.
For example, last week at the mall there were several people I thought "should" look different in dress or face or hair. Then, recognizing I was doing it again, I consciously opened my heart to them, feeling my heart expand. In less than half a minute I found myself accepting them just as they were.
It felt so much nicer inside than to have me think they should be someone they aren't. Even more, when I do this, I discover that I am interested in who they are, what they do, and what it is about their lives that has made them who they are.
What is the tipping point between caring enough about how we look and caring too much?
For me, the answer to the "tipping point" question comes down to the issue of why we don't like our looks.
If we believe that God made us, then do we think God made a mistake? If we are Asian and want to change the slant of our eyes, what does that say about our rejection of our racial identity? If we are Jewish and have a large nose, what does that say about how we want to fit within the culture where some people may be anti-Semitic?
Because I was born into a social and cultural group in which I haven't had to fight for the rights I take for granted, I can't criticize those who believe they will have a better chance if they make some nips and tucks here and there.
However, I think it is important to realize that our emphasis on looks is often a case of not liking ourselves deep down, where it really counts. If we like ourselves just as we are, we are less likely to be bothered by whether or not others like the way we look.
On the other hand, if we are focused on whether someone is judging us on our looks, we are more likely to spend an excessive amount of fussing and painting before we stick our heads out the door.
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This article was originally published at Support 4 Change. Reprinted with permission from the author.