Friday, October 14, 2016

Looks Are(n't) Everything

Ferrari 458. Not that I will ever own one.

I think I've made it pretty clear through the history of Misdirected that personal appearance was not anywhere on the radar of my motivations for surgery. Blown knees, less drug use, sleep apnea, high blood pressure - sure. But not looking in the mirror and saying "Damn, I look fabulous."

And, it turns out that I am pretty much alone in the world in terms of not caring about my looks.

Look, I live in a country (the USA, for our international readers) where a presidential candidate is able to say that he did not sexually assault a woman because she was not attractive enough. This is the importance of personal appearance in America - to about 40% of our electorate, this is apparently a completely understandable explanation. Welcome to America, kids, where your looks are more important than your rights.

I live in a country where a woman I know was told by her husband post-surgery that she should not have had surgery because she now looks like "a bag of bones."

Another surgical patient of my acquaintance was informed by a co-worker that she was a lazy pig who should've just gone to the gym instead of having surgery, just like the speaker did.

Everywhere I turn, the "perfect size" myth is in place. Too fat, and you are mocked for being a glutton. Too skinny? You must have an eating disorder. Who gets to set these "perfect" ideals? Heck if I know, but I wouldn't mind a few minutes with them in a closet while holding a baseball bat. The people or organizations that have idealized human looks have probably done more damage to us than any war or disease.

Look, I sort of get it - I have hung around with naturally beautiful people like my wife and my brother - models and bodybuilders. Idealized specimens of the human form, if you will. The "Ferraris" of human appearance. But 99% of us don't own a Ferrari. We have to get by in Civics and mini-vans and beat up old trucks. But we still manage to get around, right?

The beauty culture in our country basically says if your personal appearance is not "Ferrari", just don't drive. Stay home. Out of sight. Where no one has to see you. 

So we spend millions, maybe billions, of dollars on things to improve our looks. The latest styles of clothing. New kinds of make-up and jewelry. More intense workout routines, designed to make us sexier rather than healthier. Maybe even surgery, whether bariatric or cosmetic.

But, understand this - for the great majority of us, we will never be a Ferrari. And that is ok. It is perfectly fine for each of us to have an ideal to shoot for.

It is never ok to tell someone else that they are of less value because they have not reached that ideal. 

When will we learn to love and respect each other for the journeys we are making and our intended destinations, rather than the vehicles each of us is given to get there?

I Think I Am Done With My "Car" Metaphor Now,

- Hawkwind

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