What is perfect?
How am I supposed to look?
What do others see?
We have the unenviable, and impossible task as humans in modern times to decide who we are and how we are supposed to look, act and feel.
Told continuously by advertising that we have to be tanned, toned with white teeth and aging is just something to be avoided at all cost.
To avoid aging, we need to have cosmetic surgery, to dye hair, and bleach teeth.
The human brain is hardwired for survival. Survival of the body it is contained within, and also the DNA it carries.
Survival of the fittest is something that is encrusted on our DNA and we need to carry on our species. We need to pass our genetics, our knowledge and our lineage to new healthy, strong and reproductively successful offspring.
How do we do that? We do that by being attractive to prospective mates.
By displaying strength, by showing we can reproduce, we can provide food, safety and shelter. By showing that we can not only reproduce, but we can produce genetically strong offspring with a viable chance of continuing on our lineage.
Yeah John, thanks for the Science lesson, but what has this got to do with me? What has it to do with how I see myself?
For thousands of years, mankind has faced the challenges of being human. We’ve been faced with challenges of finding food, shelter and a mate, and we are no different in that respect now. Although the form of the challenges we face have morphed somewhat.
Think of Lions in Africa. The male Lion, the bigger, more powerful and the stronger he and his mature mane are, the more likely he is to be the king of the pride and mate with the females and produce strong cubs. When challenged time and time again, he will fight to show his power and dominance.
Now what if those lions had technology. What if a challenging Lion was shown to him, a weaker, smaller Lion, with a patchy mane of weak hair. In real life he wouldn’t pose much of a threat, he wouldn’t to the females look like a more dominant or better suited mate.
Now what if the weaker lion was photoshopped in the same way we see images in the media of celebs, models and actors as the ad man tries to sell us something?
What if his mane was fluffed up and the holes filled? What if his body was beefed up and his lines strengthened in the same way retouchers do for ad campaigns.? What if the scars on his face and body from fighting were taken away in the same way skin is retouched?Making him look flawless and perceptively perfect.
Now how does the dominant lion feel? How does he feel staring at the unobtainable level of perfection he is now faced with?
Now what if the lion was shown himself? The same powerful lion who is in real life more powerful and dominant than any other. The real king of the jungle. But now he sees his scars, his wounds, his injuries from defending his position. Measured against the perfection of his prospective competition?
Now put yourself in the place of the lion.
Your beautiful face. Perfectly you, the gateway to your psyche, the smile, the eyes and the features that make you uniquely you. The you who would as a child kiss and play with the reflection that fascinated you in the mirror. The face that your parents, brothers, sisters, cousins and kids adore.
That face that you are measuring against what you see in magazines and on television. The actors and models who have spent hours in a makeup chair before being filmed or photographed under lights specifically designed to make them look their best.
These actors, models and reality TV stars are who you are measuring yourself against as prospective opposition for partners. These are who your brain is pitting you against.
Their retouched beauty, their perfect makeup, their big houses, fast cars. and frivolous lifestyles. Some of them making money from seemingly worthless talents while you slave with calloused hands to feed and shelter your family.
Sometimes we lose sight of ourselves in our photographs because we are muddied by what we see elsewhere.
Your lion or lioness is great, It may not be the retouched false and unobtainable lion in the magazines you read or the television shows you watch.
But your lion is successful. Your lion feeds you and your family. Provides shelter, laughter, love and care. Your lion teaches the kids how to read, write and become adults and parents themselves.
You teach them how to be responsible and successful, how to identify dangers and opportunity, overcome fear and adversity and most importantly how to be loving, compassionate human beings.
You are the king or queen of your own jungle. Sometimes you just need to remember it.
How you walk in the skin you wear is your decision. Why not embrace it? What other choice do you have?