Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People

Tonight I watched one of my favourite shows, America’s Next Top Model. When I watch this show I always start thinking about beauty and how confusing it is to me. You can’t help but see how society holds external beauty in such high esteem. These female contestants all look beautiful in their own way but as the show goes on and you get to know them a little bit better you really start to see that some of them don’t think themselves beautiful at all. Or that some of them have such ugly personalities that you no longer see their outside beauty either. Yet in that instant that a photo is taken they are able to convince you that they possess every good quality a person can. They inspire you to buy a product and fuel dreams and wishes to become and own what they are and have. They incite desire and envy. They hold power over us.

Right after this show I changed channels to watch a show called The FaceMakers. This is all about a team of plastic surgeons who specialize in facial and cranial reconstruction. I watched stories about a six month little girl who was born without a lower jaw as well as a four year old girl who has such a rare condition there is only twenty cases in the world. Her skull was so deformed her brain was bulging out of her forehead. And my heart broke a little.

All the competitions on ANTM seem so silly and shallow compared to the challenges facing these kids. A good twirl just isn’t as big a deal as being able to eat and breathe properly no matter what Tyra says. With these contrasting situations it was even more glaringly obvious how these models perpetuate an unrealistic vision of what beauty is. I have read that the human race’s view of beauty is the result of an ancient biological urge to produce healthy offspring. You seek a “good looking” partner as those qualities seem to signify good health and wellbeing. Yet how does that make sense in recent times when you can go out and buy beauty? Those surgeries don’t change your genes. We have managed to fool nature. And ourselves.

I don’t have anything clever to say and am unable to end this post so that this whole topic is wrapped up like a pretty gift. I cannot reconcile it all. It confuses me. I think and rant and wonder about it. I get angry at myself that I buy into it and then feel anger at others who buy into it as well. I have my own issues with how I look and how I am perceived by the opposite sex. I am still fooled by beauty into thinking a certain way about a person or a product even with the knowledge that it is all meaningless. I know that a person can be super gorgeous but if they are mean and nasty they will eventually appear ugly. So, yes, beauty is more than superficial features. So why is there so much emphasis on it? How can these two opposite concepts exist in my mind?

Damn you, Tyra!! Damn you and your forehead. I sat down to watch frivolous TV and ended up in mental anguish over an established societal paradigm. Crap.


alan said...

Not much I can add to your observations!

Women didn't always shave either, until King Gillette needed to sell more razors and got together with what became Madison Avenue!

Have you happened to see a Sean Astin movie from 2005 called "Smile"? It had to do with something like the 2nd program you were watching (don't want to give too much away in case you rent it).


kalki said...

I think there are evolutionary reasons for why we prefer beauty in others. But I also think it's partly just because humans are drawn to beauty in everything. We prefer the pretty flowers, the cute animals, the stunning landscapes. And in that sense, it's natural for us to admire beauty in others and strive for it in ourselves.

What's scary, though, is to think that our idea of what constitutes beauty in others is so easily affected by advertising, etc. and that we seem so inclined to pass judgment on anyone who doesn't fit within that.

Squirl said...

I agree with you and everyone else here. It just takes a person with a heart to know that that's where the true beauty lies.

Nina said...

I agree with your observations, true beauty comes from within, because it will fade away if it is only on the outside.

Karen said...

The problem with intelligent people watching frivolous TV is that they always think about it.

(That's a compliment, by the way.)

whfropera said...

i've heard tyra's forehead can do that to you...

Anonymous said...

I have been AWOL for quite awhile...too much stuff in TRW honestly. It's nice to see you today.

I do that confusion thing about beauty as well and I wonder if it isn't more the norm than we know. After spending my entire life feeling ugly, I'm beginning to understand a bit that my perception of me isn't usually other people's perception of me. What an "AHA Moment" that was.


mrtl said...

angel farts! ha!

Tyra's forehead is a force to be reckoned with.

Von Krankipantzen said...

ALAN-I'll have to check out that film. Oh man. I'd look like a man if I didn't deal with the hair. But it means less confusion for all.

KALKI-yeah, that is what I meant to say. Evolutionary reasons. You have managed to summarize my whole post in two sentences. You ROCK!!! I seem to have lost all articulation after my treatment. It is called chemo brain. But yes, you are so right. The inclination to pass judgement on those who do not fit that very narrow view of beauty. That bugs me.

SQUIRL-yeah, it is like people don't use their heart anymore in day to day life. It is sad.

NINA-absolutely. Over time the most visually beautiful people lose their allure if they are not lovely inside. Unfortunately nobody takes the time to get to that place with others.

KAREN-thanks! Damned brain!!

OPERA GAL-it seems to have its own gravitational pull.

TRACI-I am just starting to make peace with my imperfect body and beginning to understand how my self esteem affects my perceptions of myslef and others too. It is pretty cool.

MRTL-the forehead is an entity unto itself and needs its own billing.

Twisteduterus said...

I will take someone who has an extrodinary persinality over someone with drop dead looks ANY. DAY. OF. THE. WEEK.

that is all

Susie said...

Yea, I was going to say what Nina said. The most "beautiful" person is going to lose that beauty eventually, by most standards, unless she has the money and the inclination to keep altering herself. But inner beauty only increases with age, if we live well. And no cutting is required. I don't often agree with what mainstream culture considers beautiful. I like the unusual, the quirky, the little bit odd. I find that irresistible, very endearing.
One of the saddest sights to see, relevant to this topic, are those people who don't know when to quit, with the "improvements." I wonder about the children of people who have noses, chins, whatever, "fixed." I think these children, who look like their parents, who clearly didn't look "good enough," must suffer terrible blows to their self-esteem.

Yea, what Karen said, too.

kalki said...

Well, Kranki, I may be a good paraphraser, but I love the way you put things. Always unique. Always makes me smile. And think. (Heh, that rhymes.)

kerri said...

"With these contrasting situations it was even more glaringly obvious how these models perpetuate an unrealistic vision of what beauty is."

-Amen! and well said.

And seriously, Tyra Banks' forehead is like another solar system. A scarier, larger, shinier solar system.

east village idiot said...

Looks have there place but there no more important than the rest of the pie. Good looks don't mean a great lay, a great laugh or a great mind.

And Kranki - you're beautiful so what the heck are talkin' about?!!

Squirl said...

Happy Easter!

Closet Metro said...

Kranki - you're beautiful.

lawbrat said...

Sometimes the most 'beautiful' just need to open their mouths to realize that beautiful, they are not.
What nice is the we all have different ideas of what beauty is.

eclectic said...

Aaaaack! The Forehead of Doom!!

Forgive me, I'm making light because all of the relevant comments have already been beautifully and convincingly made. So that brings out my inner smartass. Closet Metro is right.

Jim said...

you're TOTALLY beautiful. Luckily, yours is WAY more than skin deep!

Dima said...

Happy Easter, a day later! Although, technically, today is a holy day (Easter Monday), so it's all good.