A real problem for people in recent years is that marketers and the media have contributed toward making us a society in which we’re all constantly faced with an impossibly high standard of self-improvement, in every area of our lives. No matter where we turn, we’re faced with what amounts to a demand for how we could be improving ourselves; and of course that gives rise to a hidden accusation over everything that we have not fixed. Ultimately, if you pay attention, that can only lead to three possible results. You either become perfect, or you become angry and disappointed in yourself because you’re not perfect, or it creates a backlash of messages that tell you to embrace yourself no matter how you look.
In previous generations, there was less obsession with being “the most that we can be.” We didn’t see models or celebrities with ‘washboard abs” or women’s figures that were model like four weeks after giving birth to a child. I looked like a blown up avocado for a couple of years after having my first kid. And most importantly nobody cared. There weren’t tons of books on how to be happy, how to find your soul mate or how to find foods that matched your blood type. Your parents cooked a meal, you ate it or you stayed hungry.
Every single move you make today can be interpreted as a symptom. Do you love your mate, or are you co-dependent? Do you enjoy sweets too much. I guess you have an addiction. Do you love yourself? If not you need an empowerment program. My Italian grandmother weighed herself periodically but she didn’t obsess every time she had a plate of spaghetti over how many calories she had eaten and whether she should run around the block to work it off. She was never concerned about her abs, her upper arms, or her cleavage. In fact I don’t think she would have ever toned her upper arms because then she would’t have been able to whack me with the so-called “dewlaps”. In case you’re not familiar with a “dewlap”, it’s the loose skin on the upper arm which so many women find repugnant and try desperately to cover up. Not my grandmother, she used “dewlaps” to swat you when you got “mouthy”.
If we buy into the latest greatest fads on diet, exercise, fashion, or a myriad of other messages that drive us to buy products or books, we can be assured we will never be happy. Embracing your uniqueness is a wonderful way to live life. We don’t want to lose our essential self in deference to being someone else’s clone. The trick is to not be seduced into “ being like everyone else”. Oscar Wilde said it best, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”.