Compare You to You
- Sunday, 14 June 2009
I finally got around to booking a haircut on Saturday.
While waiting my turn, I thumbed through a magazine that was there in a stand. I am always amazed that magazines in hair salons are for women only. For all the men like me who enter these hallowed halls of style, it makes us feel like secret agents on a mission of espionage, looking to spirit back the secrets of the blow-dry or highlight technique or organic cosmetics.
Anyway, what struck me looking through this magazine were the models—women almost exclusively. Every one of them stunning, perfect, sultry, tanned, fit, and glowing with bodies that Michelangelo would have difficulty drawing. I am not talking about one or two but page after page after page of absolutely perfect female specimens.
I wondered how challenging it must be for women to ingest these images again and again, day after day and then to be left with the feeling that they did not measure up somehow.
As a bit of an experiment, I decided to spend the rest of my day trying to spot women who could make it onto the pages of this magazine (purely research, of course).
There was no one at the salon who fit the bill. After leaving I had errands to run at the local mall. Thirty minutes later, and again I had not spotted one who could match the perfection splayed out onto the pages of that magazine. Undaunted, I continued this quest to the local bagel bakery, the video store, Starbucks, and the grocery.
After all my research and diligence, guess how many women I saw that day who would qualify to grace the pages of the magazine. None. Nada, zippo, not one single woman I saw would fit this media mirage of perfection. The women I saw did not have time to:
- be airbrushed
- go through two hours of hair and make-up
- work with a personal trainer seven days a week
- take the time to put in colored contacts or hair extensions
- get a fresh tan sprayed on just before going out shopping
The women I saw were real. Real women with nice smiles and healthy kids and normal clothes and imperfect skin along with a wrinkle or two that had been earned through love and worry and life.
Here is what all of this means, I guess: this is not just about image or look or skin or teeth. It’s about all of it—the media's unrelenting image of perfection that has about as much to do with real life as I do with equestrian judging.
There is only one comparison in life that really matters. Compare you to you. Being authentic is the only real truth.
Have an excellent day.