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?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.