Why is Appearance so Important to People?

Since I don’t go out much, I tend to sit in the house wearing comfortable clothes like leggings, tee shirts and hoodies. I don’t give the mirror a second glance. I don’t wear make up and my hair is probably all over the place. Nobody, apart from my husband, is going to see me, so who cares how I look?

Why is appearance so important to people? In picture - make up and mirror.

If I go out, I make more of an effort.

I run a brush through my hair. I draw the line at putting on make up though. Like most people with trigeminal neuralgia, make up is out of the question. It can trigger pain putting it on and taking it off, so I give that a miss. I probably look a bit peely-wally, as we say in Scotland, but getting a bit of colour in my cheeks is not worth the pain.

I take time to decide what to wear. I still opt for comfort no matter where I am going. I just dress it up a little. And on my feet – definitely no heels. I wear Skechers almost everywhere I go. I don’t know what I did before Skechers were invented – they are so comfortable.

My husband always laughs (or maybe lets out an exasperated sigh). “Why can’t you just wear what you’re already wearing?” he’ll ask, while I’m choosing an outfit. “Because people will see me,” I tell him.

But why does that matter? Why should other people’s opinions bother me?

Do Looks Really Matter?

So much emphasis is put onto looks.

People are judged and criticised if they don’t conform to society’s idea of perfection. They might not be pretty enough. They might be too tall, too short, too top heavy, too flat chested, too thin or too fat. Their ears or their nose might be too big. Their teeth might not be white enough. Their clothes might not be stylish or there may be no designer label attached. Jokes are made. Strangers point fingers. People are ridiculed and even shamed.

Great Expectations

It’s expected that we all look a certain way, otherwise we don’t conform. I don’t.

Hair – Our Crowning Glory

It’s just as well I don’t go out often. Most days it’s painful to brush my hair, never mind wash, dry or style it. I know of many TN and other chronic illness sufferers who have resorted to shaving their hair off because it’s too painful or difficult to manage. Presumptions are often made about their lifestyle after they do this.

Perfect Figure

It’s expected that everyone should be on a perpetual diet and go to the gym to maintain the perfect figure. There’s nothing wrong with eating healthily and exercising. It’s obviously a good healthy choice to make. But many people feel under pressure to diet and work out for the sake of their appearance. If they can’t achieve that level of perfection, they suffer from guilt and very low self-esteem.

I don’t have the perfect figure and no amount of dieting or exercise will change that. I have a very odd body shape due to having scoliosis and have heard some very hurtful comments over the years, especially when I was young.

Ageing

Some women, even very young women and some men, reach for botox and fillers whenever they notice lines and sagging skin. The hair dye comes out to touch up the silver strands which sparkle in the sunlight. I keep mine. When I was young, I paid for highlights. Now they come free of charge. (I keep my laughter lines too.)

Laughter Lines. Poem about wrinkled face.

People Believe They’re Not Good Enough

As well as being judged by others, people are often their own biggest critics. Some people have no self-confidence because they believe they don’t look good enough. Some feel they need to wear make up and dye their hair to look better, but some people even resort to plastic surgery.

It happens to men as well as women. And sadly, it’s also happening to children. They are growing up learning to focus on their looks and aiming for perfection.

If people want to wear make up and spend an hour fixing their hair before leaving the house, that’s fine. If they want to use botox and fillers, that’s fine. If they want to diet and exercise, that’s fine too. But if they’re only doing these things because society expects them to look a certain way, that’s not fine. It’s sad that they feel they need to do so in order to conform to what society expects. And children – surely they should be allowed to have a carefree childhood without worrying about what people think of their appearance?

Weight Watchers App – For Children!!

Recently, I read a blog post about a Weight Watchers app called Kurbo for children between eight and sixteen.

The company claims the app will help children develop healthy eating habits. Should that be done by an app? An app from weight watchers, whether for adults or children, is about dieting. Isn’t this app simply telling children that they’re not good enough because of how they look?

Learning to eat healthily isn’t wrong. But learning to diet at such a young age is wrong. Some children are overweight and do need help, but that help should come from parents, doctors and dieticians. The help should also come with emotional support. An app like this could lead to unhealthy eating habits, yo-yo dieting and possibly severe eating disorders. This app is dangerous.

This is going a step too far in a world where there is already so much pressure on people to look perfect. An app like this will teach children to see only flaws. That feeling will probably stick with them for the rest of their lives.

How are Disabilities Viewed by Society?

Living in today’s critical world can be difficult for a healthy person. For someone who lives with a visible disability, the pressure can be even worse.

I asked my Twitter followers if they ever came up against these issues. I know I have. I’ve written a post about it here. If you’d like to take part in the discussion, please click the following link.

Click to take part in the conversation

Perfection Does Not Exist

I really hate that appearance is so important. People are aiming for this perception of perfection.

But do you know what? Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s normal to not look like everyone else. We come in all shapes and sizes and that’s normal. It’s normal to be different.

Perfection does not exist. In picture, diamonds in the shape of a heart on red background.

We need to learn to accept everyone for who they are, not what they look like. And we need to teach children to accept and love themselves.

A child’s self confidence is hard to find once it’s been lost. We, as a society, need to change and stop this from happening. Everyone is different. Everyone is unique. And we need to accept that.

Learn to love yourself for who you are. Believe in yourself. You are worthy of that. Everyone is.

46 thoughts on “Why is Appearance so Important to People?

  1. Peely-wally? 😂 That’s a new one to me, I like it though! I don’t have TN but I can only imagine the issues with attempting make-up.
    I know I don’t bother with myself all that much these days, and I’m glad I don’t care as much as I used to what others think of me, but I probably still care too much. It’s a hard thing to move away from, when we worry about how we look and how others think of us. I love your Laughter Lines piece!

    As for the weight watchers app, that’s absolutely atrocious! I developed an eating disorder at 13, and things like calorie counting and being preoccupied with your weight or body shape is pervasive, it can last for years, with the thoughts lingering forever for a lot of people. Is Kurbo still going? I’ll have to read up on it. Surely that’s had a lot of complaints.

    I can’t really comment too much on the Twitter post as I don’t have a physical disability, and my stoma isn’t something I show. That said, it’s still affected my confidence, and it took a long time before I could move from hating it and seeing it as separate from me, to trying to incorporate it into my image of myself, moving towards accepting it. Perfection definitely doesn’t exist; it’s an elusive ideal too many strive for, sometimes without even realising it. Those last four lines of this post are so powerful, I love them.

    Such a poignant, important post, Liz. You’ve written it perfectly!
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes, it’s a great expression.
      As far as I know, Kurbo is still going. There have been protests and petitions about it. It’s absolutely crazy, isn’t it? I hate to imagine the damage it could do. Must have been a terrible time for you as a youngster (and your family) when you developed an eating disorder.
      Being able to write openly about your stoma is incredible in itself. You probably reach many people who are where you once were. You give them hope and encouragement.

      Thanks for commenting, Caz.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Peely-weely is an amazing expression! Goodness knows, I think media put a lot/too much pressure o how we look. On one hand I’m too exhausted by illness to care on the other I love the times I csn make that effort. But should it make a difference? No! And a weightwatching app for kids is shocking!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Diffusing the Tension Blog

    I definitely feel self-conscious about my appearance quite often! I always have, at least as long as I can remember. It is a horrible feeling.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ashley Lavoie

    Some really good points are made here, great post! I cannot believe there is a Weight Watchers app for children – that sickens me. Even as an adult who IS doing the Keto diet currently, I tell my kids it’s so my body feels its best, not because I think I’m fat or need to lose weight (I can keep those negative thoughts in my own head!). I want to be the one to teach my children to love the bodies they were given and to treat them right with proper exercise and nutrition. I don’t want them ever thinking they aren’t good enough because of their appearance and/or weight!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is such a critical message you are spreading. I’m so proud of you for taking the time to so eloquently state what most of us need to be reminded of – daily.

    Societal standards are a joke. They are smoke and mirrors, a lie. Few subjects make me more impassioned than this one. If a poll were done (along with some soul searching in folks), how many cases of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and other worry related mental health disorders could be tracked back to the ‘idea of perfection?’ “I must be perfect at all times – I must look like her/him, have what they have, do what they do, be like them or else I’m just not good enough.” (sigh) Yet all along denying your own inherent beauty (for who you are), your skills, talents, abilities and unique God given purpose that only you can achieve.

    My husband has been helping me on this journey of self-love, even if his job is a tough one! (Lots of domestic abuse in my past) That programming can be so extreme. But I LOVE what you said – as I agree – I used to pay for highlights – now nature gives them to me for free! Amen! 😀

    And it is reprehensible that children have become so targeted. The sooner they can dumb them down and make them conform – the easier these marketing groups can control them to buy their products. 😥 I see my young family members so sexualized as **CHILDREN** and I literally have cried over it. Where is the innocence? Kids are no longer kids entirely too often. It saddens me to think so many have supported the work of this app and the idea it promotes. Healthy is wonderful. But healthy is not a harmful notion of what everyone should be/look like.

    … My prayer is that one day in the near future, people will wake up and realize we have gone sooooo far off track. We need to change this culture. Fast. We need to understand what beauty is and end the phoniness trend that has been so pervasively pushed.

    Thank you for bringing this wonderful post to us all. God bless you & yours! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for commenting, Holly.
    Yes, I do also wonder if this could have caused some mental health issues for some people. We think alike (must be the highlights!) – I often want to shout out, just let children be children. Will people ever wake up to it? I hope so.

    Like

  7. I’m not entirely sure what I’m more horrified and upset by. Weight Watchers having an app for kids, or parents who don’t teach their kids healthy eating habits because they don’t have any themselves. I get upset (yes, I judge) when I see a fat person in the grocery store with a really overweight child buying processed food and nothing fresh. To me, that is bordering on abuse, because the child is not learning healthy habits, and it is setting the child up for a lifetime of bullying as they go through school. There’s a big different in not knowing something because they were never taught and knowing but making a conscious decision to do the opposite when they are old enough. Neither of these (bad parenting or Weight Watchers) are good options because they aren’t teaching kids anything positive about making good choices. I wish there was a better alternative.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great post! It is amazing how much pressure we can put on ourselves to look nice. And “nice” is subjective from person to person. So we can never be sure if we are successful in that area! It really is so confusing and messed up. I’m so glad life is more than just appearances.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I personally like to get dressed up for my hubby. But other than that, leggings and comfy clothes all day long! I’m a stay at home mom of one (and a half) so I don’t go out much either. I don’t wear makeup, either, never have! But I have really good skin so I’m kind of lucky haha! You make some great points in this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh man, as a mom the idea of a Weight Watchers app for kids really does turn me off. However, childhood obesity is on the rise especially in places like the US. I can see how a family would turn to an app like that to help a child who TRULY has an obesity problem. But in that case, I would hope that the whole family would change their eating lifestyle to something healthier, as opposed to simply making one child go on a “diet.” This is why simple, clean food is so important! So many people have lost their taste for basic, quality foods like vegetables, and don’t bother to teach their children to appreciate the diversity of flavours our earth offers us. No dieting app will work if you can’t retrain your body and tastebuds to appreciate and crave a variety of natural, healthy foods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s kind of scary. If it’s done correctly, maybe an app could help some kids. But I find it quite worrying. Eating habits are bad in so many places, something does need to change.

      Like

  11. Fellow Skechers fanatic here – don’t know how I managed before I tried these! I agree with you on putting comfort first. I do the same. I’ve also learnt not to be too hard on myself – I used to have terrible acne when I was younger and I tended to agonise so much over it. But now I mostly have a devil may care attitude, makes me happier!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Trish

    I don’t even know where to start on the Weight-Watchers app – it’s breathtakingly manipulative. Sure, some kids might lose a few pounds – but at what cost to their mental health. Would be good to lnk this post on their facebook site.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Argh. Weight Watchers for children. Just terrifying! There IS a big problem with childhood obesity, but monitoring them in a way that completely destroys their self esteem and relationship with food is just not the way. So many more things need to happen around education, increased play times (not reduced recess in schools!) and governmental poverty reduction strategies.

    Re: appearances, I have totally come out the other side of baby group anxiety. I used to try and dress up/ look nice and like I had it together for playgroup, especially ones in the nice bit of town where everyone else seems to put together. It was exhausting! I’m happy with a comb through my hair (sometimes!) and a mum-bun, clean (ish) clothes and showing up to have a great time with my kiddos. It made life so much better once I let go of those worries.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great points! People definitely judge each other by their image. I don’t remember where I read it but they said that overweight people make less money than slim people working at the same job because slim people are perceived as more efficient than overweight people.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love your post! Weight Watchers for children that’s crazy! It is difficult to care for yourself when you don’t feel well and no one should be judging about how someone looks. How did we become such a cruel society? I am like you with maybe brushing my hair if I am home and wearing knit pants, but I change my clothes to go out.

    Have a good weekend,
    Kippi

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lindsay Rae

    This was a great read, you brought up so many good points on the subject of appearance and therefore self-acceptance. Since I was a teenager I’ve always struggled with self worth. And for a really long time I was one of those people who wouldn’t leave my house without a full face of makeup and the perfect outfit on. I was so obsessed with the way I looked becasue I didn’t think that my natural look was “pretty” enough.

    Then I started writing. The great thing about writing is it lets you really look into yourself. Into all that stuff that’s buried under the surface; under the makeup and nice clothes.

    And I realised that there’s a lot more to life than all those topical thing. I also realised I have to stop worrying about what others think about my appearance becasue it doesn’t matter in the end.

    I still slap on some mascara and don’t typically leave the house in my pyjama pants but I am a lot more relaxed about my appearance now, and I like that becasue I think it means I am beginning to love myself more and be happy with who I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. We all to some extent are conscious of our looks but when it becomes an obsession that’s what in my opinion is dangerous. The focus should be on living a healthy life and ageing gracefully rather than at how others look at us and perceive about us. Beautifully written Elizabeth.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. All these are valid points and we all seem to have developed a thick skin to accolades and thin skin to criticisms. many live for people’s opinion and approval and ends up getting sad or upset when they don’t get what they’re looking for.
    My motto has always been “Do you” and pursue your own happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Lyosha Varezhkina

    My blog is built up on the looks and I have had my share of chronic pain (and I way too blessed to move on with it now but still) so I think my post here is sort of in place. I think attitude is what matters. For many people taking time to take care of the looks means they are no longer that ill, at least for that, say, night. I remember the time when I took an effort to comb my hair, put on some pretty clothes and go out of house. I felt so different, it boosted my morale. I was still that oddly shaped around my back, my movements were odd and unsteady but, man, I felt like a Venus. But I do understand you don’t talk about it because it’s not the issue. Issue is that we have standards we want to live up to, not just a distraction of sort, a desire to feel better. Making yourself look better and smashing yourself for it is two different things and it’s so sad people don’t see a difference. For example, putting pretty blouse with ruffles comparing to t-shirt with funny print – is an awesome step to make moment more outstanding. And I do remember when it is hard to get out of house, each time feels special. That’s healthy. that’s wonderful. Worrying about smile wrinkles, freckles (by the way, what on earth is wrong with it the first place), thin hair, body shade – definitely different. I think we should treasure our inner selves more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, it can boost people’s morale to get dressed up, if that’s what they want to do. But sometimes people feel obliged to do it. We definitely should treasure our inner selves more. thank you for commenting.

      Like

  20. There’s no substitute for teaching children healthy eating habits — this includes encouraging children to be healthy via an App from Weight Watchers.

    You speak so much truth! It’s interesting that each person is hard-wired to judge someone’s health based on appearances alone. There’s nothing wrong with that but it is an issue once people start acting on it or expect that someone with chronic pain explains themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Jokes About Disabled People Are Not Funny – Despite Pain

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