Recently I noticed a deep pang of insecurity and jealousy that would accompany a scroll through my Instagram feed whenever I saw a pretty girl or even in real life when I saw or heard something particularly insecurity-inducing (i.e. a recent headline where a four year old kid had managed to complete a university degree, start up a million dollar company, buy a house and not make his parents want to disappear into thin air whenever they were asked what their child did for a living).
Trying to become more self-aware has its pros and cons. A pro would be the ability to monitor our actions and thoughts more consciously. A con, on the other hand would be the self-denial that often accompanies trying to pretend that we didn’t just think something like ‘OMG woe is me, I’m so inferior to this pretty girl on IG’.
And so I wrote about my thoughts in my journal. And I began to connect some dots.
Yay to self-improvement.
Have I bought into the idea that my sole value as a person= my appearance? What is it that causes some girls to compare themselves aesthetically to other girls?
How many times have you heard the ‘she’s not even that pretty anyway’ line be spat out by someone in a tone so infused with bitterness/jealousy you have to wonder…
Karly Randolph Pitman, founder of the ‘growing human (kind)ness website‘ provides excellent remedies to deal with this tendency to feel insecure and jealous in the presence of pretty women. A particularly profound observation in the article is that:
This competitive drive, this need to label – am I beautiful? am I pretty? how pretty? where do I fall in the beauty spectrum? – keeps us from honoring our unique beauty. It squelches our individuality. Instead of enjoying our beauty, and trying to be our best selves, we act like junior high girls who all have to dress alike, talk alike, and look alike.
Pitman encourages the unleashing of our unique styles and beauty. She seems to acknowledge the weight that appearances can hold, citing the authenticity that comes with individual fashion choices, i.e. her friend’s “courage to wear a skirt and knee high boots in the middle of a Montana winter”.
This got me thinking.
On this journey of becoming more secure in ourselves, there seem to be two sides to the coin (or at least I think there should be). The one where we can find our own “aesthetic” and accept how we look and the one where we remember that looks are not everything, i.e. with a similar zeal to how Shia Labeouf screams…
,we should remind ourselves that THERE IS WORTH BEYOND PHYSICAL APPEARANCE!
It’s all about balance.
Now in saying all this cute stuff about looks not being everything etc, I feel it is important to acknowledge that in our society there is value placed on appearance.
In other words, it matters.
Look around you. Look at yourself even.
A lot us care how about we look. Some of us see our fashion choices as a form of self-expression. Some of us spend a considerable amount of time putting together the perfect outfit. We have skincare routines. We wear make-up. We style our hair. We spruce up for events.
People are judged off of appearances.
*A more extensive list of our superficial tendencies follows*
We take selfies.
We hype up our friends when we think they look good and hype ourselves up when we feel we look good.
I feel like more examples of this “value” in appearance include the fact that some of us, when we deem someone to be attractive will either think it or say it out loud.
Another example is the fact that the modelling industry wants models of a certain height and body frame.
And regardless of our opinions on the previous phenomena, they happen and will probably continue to happen.
My point, however, is that there should come a point where we remind ourselves of our worth and value beyond physical appearance. I say remind because I feel like it’s easy to forget there is more to us than our external appearances.
Pitman even acknowledges this when she states that:
Jealous feelings can arise when we’re being inauthentic – silencing our style or our beauty, or, on a greater level, the very things that bring us happiness – and we see another woman who is expressing her style and beauty.
I feel that the introduction of “the very things that bring us happiness” here emphasises the inner part of a person. The part that goes beyond style and beauty.
The way I try to remind myself of this worth beyond my physical appearance is by turning my positive affirmations into questions on the basis of the assertion that they encourage you to probe for answers as opposed to just making a declarative statement.
For example, instead of saying ‘there is worth beyond how I look’, I’ll ask myself ‘is there worth beyond how I look?’ and then I’ll ask myself ‘why?’
Other reminders of this worth beyond physical appearance include YouTuber Marian Ali who hilariously discusses her quest to pursue what she describes as ‘the finest black dude she has ever seen’ on her campus only to find that ‘there was not a lot going on upstairs’.
What else can you bring to the table besides how you look? Are you a brick wall when it comes to holding a conversation? What kind of energy do you bring? Do you have any hobbies? Do you have any future plans or are you silently rotting away in a state of refined apathy?
Before you feel attacked, don’t worry, I’m talking to myself too. These are the questions that keep me up at night.
I’m going to close this blog post with a quote from a book called Psycho-cybernetics by Dr Maxwell Marx- referenced by Sean Cooper in this article:
You are not inferior, you are not superior, you are simply YOU.
He adds that ‘one’s value comes from their uniqueness’ and I think this uniqueness can and is definitely reflected externally for some people (I for instance like to wear my jeans inside out) but my point is, let’s remind ourselves of our worth beyond how we look in the midst of what they’re calling the age of social media.
Also I’d really recommend this article- https://growinghumankindness.com/jealous-of-pretty-women-turn-your-envy-into-inspiration/.