In a world where people forgo sunscreen for skin cancer, teenage eating disorders run rampant and models are airbrushed to be inconceivably human, it’s safe to say we operate on an image-based lifestyle.
Image, here, is not used as a term to represent how a person comes across to others and carries him or herself. It is, literally, to reference what he or she looks like, in the shallowest sense of the word.
It would be one thing if the sole reason we were drawn to the ceaseless analysis of outward appearances was from our natural draw to pleasing imagery, but that is only the half of it.
It’s from our general fascination with beautiful visuals that we, subconsciously or not, conclude that anything that looks good externally will be equally as interesting up close.
This remains true for things that aren’t as interesting to look at and the mindset that they will be correspondingly monotonous when you become familiar with them.
Besides the misconceptions and hasty five-second assumptions based off first sight, there’s also a major parallel between presentation and fulfillment. So many people we know find so much of their self-worth based on how they look.
Apart from the shallowness that this kind of thinking reveals and the self-absorption it inspires, this mindset makes no sense for more obvious reasons, as well.
Nowadays, you can alter your appearance in small ways (i.e. hiding under makeup or changing your hair), or in big ways (i.e. being a slave to the gym and eating a certain way).
People generally notice said changes. Such is how you present yourself; these are things you do have control over, but there is much you don’t.
Dye your hair as many times as you want, but you still have no say in the auburn color that naturally grows on your head. You can wear colored contacts, but you were still born with brown eyes. Wear 5-inch stilettos or the flattest shoes you can find, but you still can’t change the fact that you’re 5’1’’ or 6 feet tall.
You can control your physical appearance, but no one can change how he or she was naturally born.
With that being said, it makes no sense to evaluate someone on something so shallow as appearance. It makes even less sense when you think about the fact someone had nothing to do with how he or she was made in the first place.
Think about the confidence levels outwardly projected by some of the most physically attractive people you know and by some of the least.
Often, the more attractive people have more confidence; sometimes, they’re even arrogant. The same proves true for those who lack confidence because of how they look.
Just because there are people who look “better” than you, it does not, by any means, prove they are better than you. Yet, this is how we act as a culture.
It’s kind of comical to think about how smart some people are and how disillusioned those same people can be when it comes to what their eyes see. It’s all arbitrary, anyway.
I may love the color blue while you hate it, and the beauty of Post-Impressionist paintings astounds you while “beautiful” would be the last word I’d use to describe them.
The same goes for people; don’t base your self-worth on something that’s subjective to others’ opinions and lacks an ounce of depth in its entirety.
In the outward perception of relationships, this is especially disheartening. “Oh my gosh, she’s way out of his league. I mean look at her and then look at… him.” Just because she’s more physically attractive, she’s better than him?
He could be the greatest person you’ll ever meet, while she could possess the lowest caliber of integrity you’ve ever encountered. “Yeah, I’ve been seeing this guy but he’s not cute.” Since when is outward appearance the sole factor in whether or not someone is cute? Does personality no longer carry weight?
Appearance is our obsession. When did this happen, and what does this say about us? I think our obsession with appearance reveals our shallow nature, while our actual appearance proves nothing about us as people.
I’d consider our shallow disposition to be one part human nature and three parts conditioned from our surroundings; it is something we can definitely change.
The irony of this modern fulfillment is that if we continue to base our self-worth on what other people see when they glance at us, we are always going to remain empty.