Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Something About Beauty

I'm not sure if I feel empathy or not for actors who feel compelled to surgically alter their appearances. Let me qualify that; I'm not sure if i feel any more empathy than I'd feel for any human who felt the need to argue with nature and hide behind elective plastic surgery or poison, in the name of retaining youth.

Some might allege that it's hypocritical for me to say this, since I color my hair. However, I place hair in a separate category, mostly because anytime we choose, we can cut it off and start over. I will most definitely allow the natural gray to exist at some point, and certainly, by the time I am 80. (If I get to be 80)

Like many folks, I watched the Oscars on Sunday night, at least until I passed out and missed all of the major awards. :-& For the past several years, it seems to have become tradition with some of my friends to hang out (at our own homes), watch the show, have a glass (or 2) of wine and watch "together", chatting and having running commentary on Facebook. Sunday night was no different and we certainly had some fun.

I don't consider myself to be a mean person; in fact, most who know me would likely say that I am kind and empathic. I am also extremely straightforward and honest. I would never knowingly hurt someone's feelings and making fun of a person's physical appearance is something that I stopped doing when I was out of that horrible middle school phase, and even then I wasn't too bad, relatively speaking.

Having said this, I do believe that people who choose a career that requires them to be in the spotlight, and who are, in fact, well-paid for it, are in a separate category regarding public scrutiny of their physical appearance. Don't get me wrong - in no way do I think this gives anyone a license to be cruel. However, I do think that if people place themselves in the spotlight, they open themselves up to review and opinion. And, awards shows such as the Oscars are in a different realm than anything else; they are, in fact, spectacles, by their very nature.

So... what is my point?

No surprise, but I have a few. First, actors are just people; they are human beings like all of us. There are many, many people who are not in the public eye, who cling frantically to youth and who dress and act in ways that belie their true age. In many ways, this can be fabulous! I myself do not EVER want to 'grow up', but I acknowledge and accept that I will, if fortunate enough, grow old. My acknowledgment and acceptance does not mean I have to love all of what accompanies the aging process. I do not. My 48-year-old face and body are definitely not the same as they were when I was in my teens or 20s or 30s. I am also aware that one day, I will likely yearn for what I looked and felt like physically, at 48. There's a big difference between disliking some of the what accompanies the aging process, and wasting precious psychic and actual energy fighting and resisting it.

I often notice and feel sad when I see:

Women (or men) in their 50s, 60s and older, who have dyed their hair a shade of black that is darker than onyx and would rarely, if ever, be found on a person their age;

  • Older people who sport a shade of platinum blonde or red (or magenta) that was never a natural hair color for ANYONE, at any age;
  • Women who wear make-up so thick and so colorful that they resemble clowns, or some kind of bizarre character in a play;
  • People who wear clothes in which they are obviously physically uncomfortable, to conform to fashion and/or fad, or some expectation they have of themselves or which they think they need to fulfill for others.

My point, is that we find these people both in and out of Hollywood and other spotlights.

Wherever we go, there we are. If we are insecure, fearful and uncertain of our own self worth, these feelings will not likely dissipate simply because we are considered beautiful and/or gifted by some, or many. Sometimes, when we do well in our chosen field, it can and does serve to boost our self-confidence, validate our inherent worth, allow us to feel good about who we are and help us to be more gentle on ourselves. Sometimes, it gives us the 'evidence' we need to believe it ourselves. But not always. In Hollywood AND in "the real world", many people are simply not comfortable or satisfied with themselves and indeed, are not even sure of who they truly are.

It is certainly true that in the "movie star" world, people are held to a much higher scrutiny than us regular folk. I have two thoughts about this:

1) People who choose to be actors and go to Hollywood to 'make it', know going in that this is the case, so it doesn't make sense for them (or the public) to be surprised when they are then, in fact, scrutinized.

2) As a society, I very much hope that more people will take a stand to minimize the weight we give to physical beauty and youth, and to honor, value and appreciate the exquisite beauty of people who truly know who they are, why they are here and as fully as they are able, are living the truth of that knowledge.

Please don't misunderstand - I surely know that it IS important for us to feel good: physically and about who we are, and that being pleased with our own visual appearance is often a part of our overall sense of self-satisfaction. Of course, the extent to which this weighs in our overall assessment of ourselves will vary from person to person.

I believe it is crucial for individuals to truly know themselves and to strive to be the best of who they are, from a place of self-love and respect, and not from a place of self-loathing or fear.

Where does this leave us regarding Kim Novak? I have some thoughts, but would love to hear yours.