How to love your body in a world that has everything against it

Archives

Want to be happy? Buy this…

Bulimia Barbie

Lunch will ruin the line of this dress

I think it is a great shame that you don’t see people with buck teeth and sticking out ears any more. Well, you do see them in real life, but not much in the media.

Appearance has become so standardised and that what we really genuinely and internally find attractive has to be labelled as ‘wrong’ and replaced by a kind of prosthetic and moderated version that is a received notion of attraction.

There’s a post early on in this blog about how we don’t choose what we find to be beautiful. It’s not really something that we have control over and I, for one, definitely like wonky teeth. Patricia Arquette, for example, has got slightly wonky, very English teeth and they are lovely. Kirsten Dunst used to have them but I’m not sure if she has any more and Isabella Rosellini has them.

I also LOVE a ginger man with ginger eyelashes. And I also like fat blokes and think they’re sexy (Ray Winstone). I like to look at bigger than ideal women, like Jane Goldman and Nigella Lawson.

But all this is besides the point really and just a rebellion against the ideal. It’s not the ideal itself that is the problem, it’s having an ideal in the first place.

Appearance is important to us but the aspect of appearance that we think of when we think of beauty – especially our own beauty – is always focused on physical flaws that we’re convinced other people can not only see but that they will accept or reject us for. But attractiveness is not about teeth or body fat ratio or hair colour, it’s about something intangible.

A soft voice, the way someone turns their head, the way a person smiles or the light in their eyes. If you look at someone you know and like, whether they’re beautiful or not, it’s not their definable looks that you like it’s their quirks, their essence, something about them that makes you warm to them, want a part of them, want to be with them.

So it’s the same for you. People aren’t looking at whether you’ve gained a pound or two or have got a spot on your chin or had a hair dye disaster, they’re looking for that intangible air that is you, that makes you different from other people. They’re looking for your quirks, internal energy – the light inside you, your confidence, your focus, your attention, your ‘you-ness’.

That’s why, when you look at someone who isn’t particularly physically ‘ideal’ and you find them as sexy as hell, you find them as sexy as hell!

And you’ll find that the people you do think of as sexy and attractive are the ones who care less about what other people think about how they look and who are relaxed and self confident. The most unattractive people on the other hand, are those who are obsessed with appearance – even the ones who think they look good have an air of tension and instability. When we feel self conscious about looks, we seem stilted and devoid of charisma.

We’re told right from birth, though, that the definition of beauty is in the detail – the hair must be straight and shiny, the teeth must be straight and white, slimness is essential, skin has to be clear and features have to be regular. So we strive for it and in doing this we lose the light and the uniqueness that really makes us attractive. We start looking for signals that we’re doing the appearance thing right and so are never relaxed enough to give anyone else a glimpse of our inner light and confidence. We don’t even bother looking outward at who we’re with at all and so the world is filling up with empty and shallow and ‘perfect’ plastic dolls.

Have some courage and make yourself happier by severing the thought control and coming to your senses. There’s an episode of Red Dwarf where the crew of the ship get hooked on a virtual reality game called ‘Life’. They wear a headset and experience the game as if it’s real. Everything in the virtual reality world is exactly how they want it – they have all the money and luxury and admiration they’ve ever wanted. Meanwhile, their real bodies are wasting away because they stop eating or sleeping or talking to each other.

If you’re heavily influenced by the media pressure to look a certain way, you live in the same kind of game. Except the world is far from perfect and you are continually promised the money, the luxury and the admiration you crave. The game is fixed so that you’re forever chasing something you can never really reach. Meanwhile, real life is passing you by and your real self is withering away and so are your genuine connections with other people.