The other day a friend of mine was telling me how sad she was that her pants didn’t fit. They were too big. She was losing weight even though she didn’t want to.
Not a problem most of us have, but it still made her sad. And that made me sad.
Who cares what size pants you wear? Maybe you have to buy smaller pants, maybe you have to buy bigger pants. Feeling good in your skin is all that should matter.
Yet so many of us feel shame when we don’t meet societal standards for beauty.
Your own worth is directly attached to the way you look on the outside.
Your “self” esteem. I heard Will Smith say something about this the other day. About the fact that your self-esteem is personal. It’s how you think of yourself. But you use the opinion of others to tell you how to feel about yourself.
How others think we should look determines our “self” esteem. Something is so off about that.
If you look good according to societal standards, you’ll feel amazing. But if you don’t look perfect, it can leave you feeling depressed, unworthy, terrible. And that just sucks.
Especially since what’s on the outside isn’t all that important.
Rules of the Jungle
We live in a society that tells you to look a certain way. You need to be thin enough, fit enough, your eyes need lining, your skin needs to be clear, etc.
While men face these challenges too, the standards are even higher for women. Makeup done, but not too much. Hair dyed and styled, if it’s grey you’re too old. You have to wear clothing that makes you look desirable, but not too desirable or you’re considered trampy. You must be thin, but not too thin or you have an eating disorder while any extra curves mean you’re overweight. And the list goes on and on.
And all these tasks should be completed while also having a job, raising children, cooking dinner, cleaning the house.
Now, the roles are changing some. Women are waking up and talking to their partners about this. Partners are understanding how unfair this is and starting to fill in the gaps.
But the standards for outward appearance are still insane.
What’s Your Body’s Purpose?
Does the outside really matter that much? Is that all that important?
Don’t get me wrong, I think personal hygiene is important. I think the way you dress and present yourself can say a lot about who you are as a person. Helena Bonham Carter refers to the way you dress as a form of art. And I love that.
But is it the bases of who you are? Is the outside shell that important?
I’m going to demonstrate my meaning with a cookie analogy.
You’re in the store, searching for cookies. Your life just won’t be complete without them.
You see this beautiful package of cookies. It’s your favorite color, it has an elegant design, there’s an easy open and resealable package. It’s perfect. You ring it up and take it home.
After looking forward to cookies all day, you’re finally home, wrapped in a blanket, cookies in hand. You’ve turned on your favorite show and you take that first bite of your prized cookie… and it’s terrible.
The cookie is dry. It’s saltier than it is sweet which is a weird thing for a cookie. It’s stale. It’s plain. It lacks all the things you love most about cookies. You try one more bite just to be sure your taste buds are working. Nope. Still gross.
Epic cookie fail.
So, the next day you go back to the store with the cookie craving that won’t be denied. Again, you look in the cookie aisle. You see that pretty package and think what a shame the cookies were so gross.
After careful consideration you pick a different package. It’s not flashy. It looks like almost all the other cookie containers on the shelf. But it says it’s the flavor you like, so you figure it’s worth a try. Next stop, home with your cookies.
Cautiously you open the package. You lift the first cookie to your nose. It smells really good. It looks like a cookie, nothing noteworthy, but nothing wrong with the appearance either, so you take a little bite. BEST COOKIE EVER.
It’s soft, but not too soft. It has a rich and sweet flavor. It melts in your mouth and fills your heart with joy in a way only cookies can.
From now on you buy that same cookie at the store. You don’t even care what the package looks like. It has the stuff you like. It makes you happy.
You Are the Cookie
While what’s on the outside will draw people to you, it’s what’s inside that’s important.
Sure, you want to attract people. No doubt. But all that flashy stuff outside won’t mean anything if the cookies suck.
If you’re someone that enjoys the art of getting dolled up, that’s great. And this post isn’t aimed at shaming you for wanting to look good. It’s just a reminder to work just as hard on what’s inside as what’s outside. Work on your cookie recipe more than the design of the package.
And for those of you that don’t enjoy the laborious process of getting done up, don’t fret. That’s fine too. I don’t think you can act like a slob and the right partner will see past the showerless facade and see true love in your eyes. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours grooming. Just respect yourself enough to care for your own container (like showering) and remember it’s still just the container.
And what it contains is beautiful.
That’s where the good stuff is.
If you need further proof, think about this next bit.
Have you ever met someone you think is gorgeous? But once you get to know them, you’re not sure how you ever found them attractive? Like their personality ruined it?
It goes the other way too. Maybe you met someone you thought looked average, but as you got to know them, they became extremely attractive to you?
That’s because the body is just the container for what’s inside. That inside bit shines through.
Implementing the Cookie Mindset
You’re not too skinny or too fat. You’re not too tall or too short. You don’t need bigger boobs or a whiter smile.
It’s okay to want to change some things. It’s okay to make what YOU think are improvements. But make sure these are things that would make you happier, and not things to fit into our broken society.
When you think of what’s important in life, in the moments that really matter, it wasn’t what you were wearing or how you looked.
The essence of life is so much more than that.
In my experience, when I think I look cute, I have less fun. Because I’m worried about messing up my hair or outfit or makeup.
I have the most fun when I don’t care. When I just experience life. I laugh, I play. I hug my muddy child. Maybe I even jump in the mud with him.
You are the cookie. Appearance is great. It’s fun. It draws people to you. But it’s what’s in the package that brings people back over and over.
Don’t be a salty bitch. Be tasty AF. Remember to work on the inside, where it counts.
Wrap yourself in whatever packaging makes you happy. But remember no packaging will hide what’s inside. It comes out.
Because you’re not the container, you’re more. And that “more-ness” can’t be held below the surface no matter how you might try.