Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Real You
One woman describes herself as "Five feet, three inches tall and pleasingly plump." After she had a minor accident, her mother accompanied her to the hospital emergency room. The admitting nurse asked for her height and weight, and she blurted out,"Five-foot-eight, 125 pounds."
The nurse pondered over this information and looked over the patient. Then the woman's mother leaned over to her and gently chided, "Sweetheart, this is not the Internet."
If you could change your appearance in life as easily as you can make one up on the Internet, would you remake yourself? It's tempting to think so. We live in an age when most of us are increasingly dissatisfied with our bodies. We want liposuction, face lifts, tummy tucks, silicon implants and cosmetic surgery - too often for no other reason than to look like someone else!
And don't think I am only talking about women. Men too place great emphasis on their bodies. Studies show that in 1972, one in six men didn't like their appearance; today, almost 50% of men surveyed reported being unhappy with their looks.
Of course, our bodies keep changing. I have less hair on top than twenty years ago. An older man who happens to be bald looked at my head recently and said, "It looks like you go to the same barber as I do."
According to the book The Adonis Complex (The Free Press, 2000), more and more men are feeling insecure about their appearance. In 1996, over 700,000 men had some cosmetic surgery - often in an unhealthy attempt to fix a perceived flaw that nobody else noticed. Eating disorders and steroid abuse are common among males.
The book's authors Harrison Pope, Katharine Phillips, and Robert Olivardia did an experiment in which men were asked to take a computer image of an ordinary man and add muscle mass to him until he was the size these men wanted to be. On average, the men packed about 28 more pounds of muscle mass on the computer image; women, on the other hand, only added a negligible amount of muscles to the image to create their ideal guy.
Poet Khalil Gibran said, "Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart." When you and I choose to believe that our most attractive qualities lie within, we can let go of those unrealistic expectations of our bodies.
Let's care for our bodies; we'll keep them for the rest of our lives. Let's be thankful for them and treat them well.
But remember, the real you, the essence of you, cannot be improved by a bottle or a pill or a salon. It is a beautiful and glorious light shining from your heart to the heart of the world. Cherish the real you - it's pretty terrific. And let it shine.
-- Steve Goodier