I’ve been thinking about self-image lately. Mine has changed dramatically over the last year. I had such a poor way of looking at myself and my world, never seeing the endless possibilities. Thinking only of the negative in my life. Looking in the mirror and seeing only the flaws. Never realizing I actually had the power to do whatever I wanted to. I am not alone in this poor self-image. So why is it so rampant? Why do so many of us have this pessimistic outlook? Is it innate? Are we born into it? Or is it something we learn along the way?
I think self-image and acceptance of reality is one of the most important problems facing humans right now. If you don’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else? Consider that on a global scale. Hating yourself leads you to hate others. Then add politics and the media and it’s no wonder the world is a mess.
Our commercials tell us how drinking Dos Equis will make you a suave, lady magnet. That if you buy a Lexus everyone will love and envy you. The commercial convinces us that if we drive that car, we would actually enjoy our daily 2 hr commute. And we believe it all on some sub-conscious level. Why? We buy a better car, new clothes, bigger house thinking it will make us happier.
Many of our religions (I’ll use Catholicism, since I was raised with that) like to beat us down telling us that even before we a born, we are sinful. We go to church looking for solace, but so many times I came home from church wondering why, if god was so good and perfect, we were so terribly flawed and sinful just for living. I know that perception had an impact on my psyche. I imagine that sort of preaching week after week would affect others similarly.
Every day we are bombarded by things that make us feel bad about ourselves. I don’t drink Dos Equis, therefore I am a loser. I don’t drive a Lexus, therefore I am a loser. The media shows us only “perfect” people, when such people do not exist. Have you seen this video? (http://www.idesigntimes.com/articles/8356/20131030/model-photoshop-gifs-video-shocking-watch-disturbing.htm.) It’s no wonder we think we’re ugly. And why is the ‘ideal’ thin, blond and blue eyed? It implies that people with dark hair, eyes and skin are less attractive. Why is that? I don’t think we’ve seen real people on TV or in magazines since the early ’70s. Consider the American TV show “All in the Family”. I don’t believe any of those actors would be cast in that show. Imagine George Clooney as Archie Bunker. The four who made that show what it was were certainly not as pretty as the people on TV today. When’s the last time you saw a real person on TV? Even when the script calls for a less than perfect-looking character, they take Handsome Actor and ugly him up with makeup. Real people aren’t in the media, unless it’s news. That’s when we see real people, including those who are not white and blond. Mostly those who are not light skinned. What is that showing our children?.
The only way I was able to crawl out of my dark box of self-despisement was through psychotherapy. Many don’t have that opportunity. So many others see no reason to change. Many, like me, didn’t know you could change. So self-image is definitely learned and we can control it. Good information. Information I could’ve used a long time ago. But we all grow at our own pace.
With all the media outlets bombarding us daily to reinforce the idea that you’re ugly, or those people are bad, I need to lose weight, I need a better car, a better job, a bigger house. How do we battle the lies? Unfortunately, many of us can’t. They become obsessed with being ‘good looking’ and undergo plastic surgery. Did they give in to the hype because they are weak or stupid? Do they turn to surgery because they are too lazy to exercise?
I try not to judge those who indulge in plastic surgery. I also try not to pity them. I have a great deal of appreciation for heavy individuals, people who are judged by so many, many times each day. I have understanding (as much as I can) for those who are handicapped, or different from the ‘average’ in some way. I try to treat everyone the same; with kindness and respect. Something all of us deserve.
Each of us has our own path, and each of us bump into each other for reasons only fate knows. People judge and buy into media hype, think following the Kardashians is an important part of their life. I wish though that people could grow fast enough to stop hating each other before the Third World War. Perhaps we need to teach Love of Self to our children along with math and science.