I recently read an article that stated the number of elective facial plastic surgeries was increasing partially due to ‘selfies’.
Selfies are the photos from, most often, phones that are turned back on the phone owner and taken by the owner’s own hand. It appears that the close proximity (the length of an arm) has brought to many people’s attention their imperfections above the neck.
So I wondered – what does our face have to do with who we are – to our mind, to ourselves and to others? With some metaphorical and literal self reflection, what must we do to face ourselves without, necessarily, going under the knife to like our own likeness.
What is perfect?
When I look at teenagers, I have to smile. The come in all shapes and sizes and are beautiful in their youth. However, remembering way back when, and listening to the traumas and dramas of high school life, I realize that most teens have something in common.
There is something wrong with them. Not essentially ‘them’ but they might have a narrow face (when broad or oval is in vogue), a square jaw (when pointed jaws are more admired), are taller (when petite is desired) or shorter (when height is the goal). Even with all the press about healthy body image and the delusions of advertising or editorial photoshopping, there is still an underlying and insidious message that what you’ve got is not enough. It is based on the elusive “if you buy this…” or “if you look this way…” or “if you don’t act that way…” and ends with a supposed ‘enough’ once you’ve bought it or worn it. But it really doesn’t usually end up that way.
I’ve talked about the curse of perfectionism before, and it goes beyond looks – enough money, enough things, enough… Yet in our own attempts to reach flawlessness, sometimes going under the knife (in one way or another) to get what we want, we still might not have the pot of gold that is proffered to us with enough effort. The moving target of “not enough” moves, once again, just outside of reach.
Mountain out of a Mole?
There are vast numbers of teen movie scenes where kids aim to miss school because of a single pimple that “everyone will notice and laugh at.” Usually it turns out that everyone else is so self-conscious about their looks that the last thought was to look and judge others because of the veil of embarrassment and imperfection. [With my birthday coming up, there’s the adult version in discussions on our lines and creases.] I can laugh at the simplicity of the solution, and yet I wonder about my own blemishes or wrinkles that just don’t happen to show up on my face.
What would happen if someone put a close camera on your greatest (perceived) weakness? Would it be small and insignificant to them, like a passing spot on a cheek or chin, or would it be a world-ending catastrophe? While you might first think it’s the latter, take a moment to readjust your perspective and ask yourself some questions.
Will this issue be significant in a year, in five years, in ten? If it is, we need to attend to it, but many things wane with the passing of time. Who said this was so momentous? When we ask this question sometimes voices from the past really do pop up, based on their own limitations and legacies. Would I happen to have any resources that could help me through this and move me forward on the other side? This focuses on looking at what you DO have, not what you DON’T have. Is there anyone I can trust for an objective suggestion or help in changing this or simply looking at it differently? Sometimes we need some help from the outside.
Best face forward
I have known some friends who would be classified as photogenic. They are not models in a glossy pages sense, yet when I watch them in front of a snapshotting camera I notice a couple things.
First, they know how to use their angles. Each of them has a striking feature and they manage to promote that side or aspect of themselves when the flash goes off. They know their strengths and use them. Outside of the photo environment, we can learn from this as well – we can use our strengths to move us more seamlessly through life and can support others in using their fortes as well. I’ve learn a couple tips on photos from these glamour guys and gals, and we too can take our knowledge and experience in other areas and share with or learn from those around us.
Sometimes I’ve seen people transform to look even more stunning when they feel comfortable, are surrounded by friends, or are in a place they can be at ease. That support seems to make something plain, sparkle. This can extend to other areas of our lives – we look better in the aspects of our day to day when we have the resources and support we need to feel comfortable.
The key, however, lies in how these individuals feel about and within themselves. Their inner light and confidence seems to shine through and tends to make the final shot a good one. Even if they are having a ‘bad photo day’, it doesn’t seem to bother them because they don’t take it personally. Sure, it’s their face, but it isn’t their essence. One sixty-fourth of a second doesn’t capture who they really feel they are. They own themselves and it is this inner security that goes more than skin deep.
Our ownership, of what we do, who we are or can be, is learned and integrated into the subconscious mind. When we feel comfortable within ourselves, we can look at the world with much clearer and more positive eyes (and the world tends to look back in the same way). We can speed up this process through hypnosis or self-hypnosis, yet we have this ability to do so in our every word, thought or feeling about ourselves.
Gilding the Lily?
I don’t know if you recognize this saying, but I interpret it as meaning that something already beautiful in its own right has been augmented still. Whether it is still as beautiful or not might be questioned.
When does the face that looks at us in the mirror or the outcome of a ‘selfie’ look good enough to us? I believe, once again, it is just like the lily itself. A particular plant has certain innate attributes or potential for its variety, but it is the soil it is planted in, the water that is added, the sun that shines on it that creates the outcome or blossom.
Sometimes we need to add or subtract elements in our own lives – past expectations, media fads and glamour, current input of those who surround us… Thinking of yourself and the reflection that might be the least camera-friendly (at least in your mind)… what would be the elements that would help you flower most beautifully? And when it comes down to it all, we need to take a moment and wonder… When it the lily just as it should be – minus the gilt?
Because I think you are all just as you should be, I’d like you to do an experiment. Take a couple pictures for yourself (you can share them if you wish). Take one when you’re angry or sad or overwhelmed. Take another when you’re thinking about someone you love. Take another when you’re doing something you enjoy doing. Take another when you’re feeling good… you’ve got it. Sure, work your angles, but remember that the most important angle isn’t your head, it’s in your mind.
Here’s looking at you, kid…