Skin Deep

I recently had a conversation with two other women, one in her 20s, the other in her 40s. Since I’m in my 60s, we represented three generations of women and the commonality we all shared was our low self-esteem about our physical appearance. We were pointing out our flaws which none of us saw in the other, but we clearly saw in ourselves, and it made me feel sad that as women we still haven’t reached a point where this need to be physically perfect is no longer prevalent in our society.

Of course, it goes deeper than this. It’s not that I never think I look good and intellectually I know that the person I am inside is far more important than my external appearance. Yet, all the comments and hurts I’ve experienced beginning with my childhood combined with society’s standards of beauty still alter the way I perceive myself. Throughout our conversation, we would be negating the other’s comments about themselves because we truly didn’t see these so-called flaws that were being expressed.

I know most women are very hard on themselves, never thinking they’re good enough as they are, hence all the breast and butt implants, dieting, facelifts, and collagen. With infidelity rampant in our society (and it probably always was), we’re desperate to keep our men or partners interested in us, and to keep ourselves feeling relevant and desirable.

Although you’ll see 100 memes a day telling you your looks are irrelevant to who you are as a person, you’ll see 300 memes/videos in the same day showing off perfect female specimens, which jolts your confidence and makes you dread looking in the mirror.

I have never been privy to a conversation among men where they’re diminishing their looks and discussing getting Botox to get rid of their wrinkles. They’re not getting penis implants, although I have seen on social media where men have enhanced their biceps and other muscles through surgery. But those are exceptions, not the norm. Breast enhancement is a norm in our society, as are collagen injections and liposuction, and let’s not forget, laser therapy for our naturally hairy bodies which, for some reason beyond me, need to be completely devoid of hair.

And all this for what? To keep a man or partner who couldn’t care less what he/she looks like, or a man/partner who is so egotistical he/she needs you to do this so you can be shown off as arm candy the same way someone wears a Rolex? Or because we just cannot accept our imperfect selves and have to conform in order to be happy. Which, of course, leads me to the question of who exactly is defining perfection and imperfection.

Perhaps we need to realize that our so-called flaws are what make us unique, that aging is a natural progression not all of us get to experience, and that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. And most importantly, we need to do a better job recognizing the beauty in ourselves when we are the beholder.