The other day I was walking into the grocery store when I passed two women that were coming out. They both were older and their faces looked like they have lived a hard life. Neither of these ladies had make up on. One of them had stringy salt and pepper hair. She was wearing flip-flops and her feet were dirty. She had on long shorts and a tank top that was very faded from multiple washes. She had on no bra and her breasts were hanging low. As I passed I caught a snippet of their conversation. She was saying “I told him if he wanted any of what I have he was going to have to stop dranking (this is not a typo) I immediately passed a judgement on this woman. I thought “You better hope he keeps drinking” I later told my friend Marge about this incident and she said “Was it really that bad?” to which I responded “Honey Boo-Boo’s Mama would make fun of this woman.” I then thought to myself how incredibly cruel this was of me. I don’t know this woman. Who the hell am I to decide what kind of person she is or whether she is attractive or not. She is most likely a very kind woman who is generous to a fault and I had made my decision in the scant few seconds it took me to walk past her. That got me thinking harder. The real question is “How do others perceive us?” and “Do we judge ourselves too harshly?”
Every morning (or evening depending on your schedule) when we get ready for the day ahead, at some point, will look into the mirror. Who do you see. Do you see beauty or are you performing a critique of what is wrong with your appearance? Do you apply make-up because you think it will make you more attractive? Do you do something special with your hair? Or do you smile at the reflection in the mirror and think “Damn I look good!” Now, once you head out and others see you what do they think? Is it the same things you thought or do they have a slightly different opinion?
There are mornings I look in the mirror and notice nothing but flaws. “Look at the bags under my eyes”, on closer inspection “My complexion looks rough, I need a better moisturizing treatment, ugh I look fat, my clothes are accentuating my muffin top, ack, my hair looks like hell….Screw it, I’ll wear a paper bag on my head, then people will only see my muffin top.” Although that sounds funny it really isn’t. It is hard to get motivated and get out the door when you are feeling like Quasimodo’s twin sister.
On other days I look in the mirror and I am in love….with myself. Arrogant but true. “Wow my eye-make-up is perfect, look how I blended those colors!” Upon closer inspection “My skin is flawless and my hair is too die for! My clothes are complimenting my figure. I look like I lost some weight. Damn my legs look good, I am going to turn heads today!” And you float out on a cloud.
Some days the thought is “I look okay” No real judgement one way or another but at least you know people’s eyeballs will not burn out of their sockets when they see you coming. This is how I feel most days. And there are those times you don’t give a damn how you look walking out the door, head held high, wearing frumpy jogging clothes with your hair pulled up into a ponytail and not a spot of make-up anywhere on your face. You smirk to yourself thinking “Who the hell cares what anybody thinks.” Aren’t those days great?
Now I will point out some things that I have learned and then there will be a small (but fun quiz) on your thoughts.
I am pretty sure that we all have days where we feel like we look bad. I have had more than my fair share. Now there are those times that someone who knows me really well might ask if I am okay because I am looking rough, after punching them square in the mouth, in my imagination, either I will fess up that I am not feeling so hot (no pun intended) or I will feel worse than I did to start with because they confirmed that like Medusa, I can turn people to stone with a single glance.
With a stranger this is a slightly different matter. I can have a day where I feel like I have a face that only a Mother could love and someone I don’t know might say something like “Your eyelashes are so long and pretty. I’m jealous!” or I love your curly hair, I wish mine was like that” and at that moment I feel like those kids on “Glee” when they get doused with a slushie. It is that cold snap of awareness that brings me to full attention realizing that while I am feeling sorry for myself for making Phyllis Diller look like a Playboy centerfold that I am being far, far too critical of myself. Show of hands, How many of you have done this?
Now let’s talk about the days that we are feeling all Divalicious. Those are the days that I can look in the mirror and practically do an imitation of Buffalo Bill’s dance and conversation with herself (she is a transsexual although still in her masculine body) from “The Silence of the Lambs” where she proudly declares “I’d fuck me”
With people I know, they tell me I look good. Stroke that ego and make me feel like a supermodel. Now do they mean it or are they just saying this to be nice? Maybe a little of both. I have to be honest with myself in some respects. A few details about myself and I am not ashamed to say this, my smile is fake, my front teeth are a dental appliance (I have a purty mouth when they are out) I have wrinkles (I am 46 after all) one side of my mouth curves down a little (I correct it with lipstick) and I could afford to lose a few pounds. Don’t get me wrong, I am very comfortable in my skin and sure as hell can open the door without my teeth in.
When I encounter strangers it can be another matter. I am out on the town and feeling sexy and hot. I sometimes forget my age because I do not feel it. I am a the coffee shop (not Starbucks) awaiting my drink and I talk to the young man (about 21 years old) next to me and he answers politely and calls me ma’am. Ma’am?!?!?!? I’m only 46. That’s not that old…. unless you are a 21 year old young man talking to me. Now he is looking around for his friends like I am going to eat him and this little college boy makes a polite but quick exit back into the herd. Here I was thinking I was a Cougar, apparently I am a Yak. I was just being friendly and now my confidence has slipped a couple notches. In a place with people my own age I would be surrounded with conversation. Other times it can be the exact opposite and I find myself stunned and surprised. I recently had an 18 or 19 year old boy offer to…..talk about surprising. I could be his mother and I was flattered to no end. It was a very tempting thought that remained just a thought. That boy is my new best friend although he doesn’t know it.
Then there are the days when we don’t care or we feel we look okay. And you know what? We do look okay and beautiful no matter what. Sadly advertisers,televisions,movies,music and magazines have created a world where if you are not perfect, no one will like you. They have decided what perfection is and we end up believing a lie. It is a lie that affects pre-teens and teens more than anyone else. We now see girls that walk around painted up like Snooki. They have the wardrobe of a prostitute and they are only 14 years old. They are having tummy tucks and plastic surgery by the time they are 25. They are suffering from body dysmorphia. There is something wrong with this. It is all in how people see us or at least in how we see other people. We see things we don’t like in others although it is something we are afraid of in ourselves and we try to fix it. Why? Because we are not taught that we are beautiful just the way we are. We have plastic surgery nightmares on the television and in movies but bless people like Jamie Lee Curtis who is embracing her age and showing that middle aged and older women are beautiful wrinkles and all.
Now let’s have a little fun and take a quiz. I want you to look at each photo and keep the first thought that comes into your mind. Then scroll down and read. This will show you how we all judge people in our own way. At the end I am linking a video that you must watch. The results in the video will wow you.
All I want you to think is “What do I see?”
You are allowed to have your own answers. This is about how we perceive others.
When you looked at this picture did you think:
That is Amanda Seyfrid.
She is very pretty without make-up.
She needs a little eyeliner.
What did you think?
And when is that going to be?
That is Honey Boo-Boo’s mom.
She need to lose some serious weight.
What did you think?
Kirstie Alley is a beautiful woman.
She is getting old.
She looks better thin.
What did you think?
I could have fun with them.
Redneck trailer trash.
I am so glad I do not know these people.
What did you think?
She didn’t need surgery. She is so pretty.
Maybe I need to get my nose done.
What did you think?
Poor girl. I hope she gets medical help.
She is lucky. I can’t lose weight.
I know how she feels
Now go look in the mirror
What did you think?
When others see you today what will they think?
It is all about individual perception so next time think for a second before you judge someone. Remember that while we are judging people, people are judging us. It is human nature. We make assumptions without really knowing anything other than what we see. I stand guilty of this. Let’s make a promise together: “I am going to be better and kinder in the future and not be so quick to decide who someone is based on only their appearance or just a couple of spoken words when we are in passing. I also promise to realize that I am beautiful exactly how I am and will try to be less critical. If I can embrace who I am and love myself unconditionally then I can love others in the same way and accept unconditional love in return.” Now watch this amazing video. It runs 6 and a half minutes and is worth every second as you feel the impact of this amazing experiment and how our esteem can paint a picture different from what the rest of the world sees. You are beautiful.
How do we see ourselves?
How do we see each other?