I saw a social media post recently, where the writer compared the relationship she has with her body to her marriage. Sometimes she loves it, other times she detests it.
It’s like my mother used to say to me and my siblings, she always loved us but sometimes she didn’t like us very much.
In August, I wrote about the destructiveness of shame and explained how I felt about my body as an example. Although I wasn’t specifically addressing body image, I received a strongly worded email, about how shallow people were, specifically women, for caring about their looks.
I appreciate all the feedback I receive from my readers, whether it’s positive or negative. I’m genuinely curious about how people react to my column. It’s a writer’s version of people-watching.
The comments made in the email I’m referring to, are not unique. It’s an attitude I’ve encountered before, although more by baby boomers than millennials.
For whatever reason, this email came to mind as I started this week’s article—probably because I was thinking about body perception. I encourage myself and others to develop a loving relationship with their bodies. The last thing I want anyone to experience is shame around their physical appearance or the fact that they care about what they look like.
Being told you are shallow if you wear makeup, should have better things to do than care about your appearance or that a man who marries you for your looks will cheat on you as you age, is not beneficial, or even likely to be true.
A relationship shouldn’t be based solely on looks, but it’s likely to contribute to the attraction you and your partner feel for each other.
I worry that women who hear sentiments like the ones included in the email I received, will develop a sense of shame around caring what they look like. This is especially true if these ideas are expressed by a parent or significant other. Suggesting you should attract a man with your cooking or homemaking skills and not your looks is a very old-fashioned way of viewing the world, and the people who live in it. It suggests the only reason anyone wants to look their best is so they can attract a mate.
Of course, there are many types of people in the world and not all of them will look out for your best interests. That’s why it’s so important to be able to do that for yourself. There are many positive reasons for caring about your appearance, including the boost of confidence it gives you. When you believe you look good, you also feel good. And feeling good makes you happy.
I wear makeup because I enjoy applying it. Often, I put it on when I’m the only one who’ll get to appreciate it.
I love seeing Olympic athletes who’ve found the time to do their nails and makeup before taking their position on the starting line. To me, that says they’re willing to find time for themselves, even when they have a job to do.
If you dress or adorn yourself to make someone else happy, then perhaps your intention is flawed. But if you care for your body and physical appearance because it makes you feel good, don’t let anyone tell you that’s wrong. Your skin is your largest organ. It needs to be pampered. Your physical appearance is what people see first when you walk into a room. It’s the only first impression you’ll get.
With that being said, let me return to the idea of being in a relationship with your body. In my experience, no relationship is ever the way fairytales lead us to believe. Sure, there are good times but there are also challenging ones.You will not always be smiling or singing with forest animals.
Going through life knowing this relationship truth makes it easier to accept difficulties when they arise.
I doubt many people would argue with the statement, “no one’s perfect.” After all, what is perfect? Who decides what the perfect person looks like?
Yet often we expect ourselves, especially our bodies to be perfect, or at least different than they are.
The bottom line (excuse the pun) is that everyone should be working towards creating an attitude of unconditional love for their physical self. You get to decide what that looks like.
You may not like the extra pounds that always seem to go straight to your stomach but that’s no reason to ignore all the good things about the way you look. You’re the only one who sees your flaws under the brightness of a microscope. No one else does. Focus instead on the parts of your appearance that make you feel good.
Allowing your personality to shine through, will do wonders to hide many of the things you consider to be shortcomings. There is nothing like a smile to cast a glow over your entire being.
It’s often said that confidence is the most attractive feature anyone can display. So, stand tall, be unashamed of who you are and what you look like. If makeup is your jam, wear it proudly. And don’t let anyone tell you that you should be ashamed of being concerned about your physical appearance. It’s your body and you can cry if you want to.
Just remember that even if it disappoints you, it’s the only body you’ll ever have.
Like a marriage, loving your appearance doesn’t mean you think it’s perfect. And that’s OK.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.