“It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so.”

16 03 2009

(quote by poet Frank O’Hara)

A few weeks ago my Intro to Poetry teacher was talking to the class and made a random comment about one of the students’ pet turtle. She seemed really confused and asked how in the world he knew that she had a pet turtle. He said that she had mentioned in an e-mail she sent him that she had to clean out her turtle cage and that he had payed attention to what she said, which led him into a spiel about how no one pays attention. He said something to the effect that we should pay attention to what people say and that doing so is a good quality that is usually neglected.

I very much agree with that sentiment. I’m not going to claim that I’m the most non-self-centered person ever, but it seems that way too many people are so busy being self-absorbed and worrying about their problems and about what people think about them that they never notice the people around them. Sure, they’ll say “hi” or respond if someone talks to them or maybe even start up a conversation, but it’s never about the other person. The person is usually so self-conscious and worried about what the other person is thinking that they don’t even hear what they’re saying. I hate to admit that I’ve done this before, but it’s definitely a habit that I think should be strongly avoided.

So, where am I going with all this? In the past few years, I’ve become kind of a “people watcher.” When I was younger (teenage years), I used to see all the people around me and think about how terrible they probably were and how much they probably hated me. I figured that they were probably completely self-confident and just spent their lives trying to put others down to make themselves look better. What I didn’t realize then was that I wasn’t the only person in the world that was insecure… it turned out that just about everyone is.

I think most people spend most of their time in life trying to make themselves look “beautiful” or desirable to other people. They’re so afraid of being rejected by people and society in general that they spend all their time trying to conform to the images that media/the people around them/their parents/their own minds build for them. While I admit that everyone (both male and female) has to deal with these struggles with image (I personally with being quiet, not athletic, somewhat sensitive, etc.), I think women tend to get the brunt of it.

An avant-garde metal band named Lengsel that I’ve really liked for a while put out a CD a while ago called “The Kiss… The Hope” that I’ve grown to enjoy quite a bit. They released it sans lyrics (which drives me insane), but they’ve been posting some of the songs’ lyrics sporadically on their myspace page. The latest were the lyrics below, which have quite a bit to do with the topic at hand.

miss s.c

these nightlife peacocks, so filled up with tears it runs out their ears
still smiling stiffly,
still shouting helplessly,
trying to make expressions of euphoria convince their innerself
and become real, become expressions of reality
their loud laughter makes me wanna cry,
as it sounds to me more like
‘oh God, please let me die’
happy singing with empty eyes, cold kisses and desperate sex
trying to kill it all away with comfort poison,
an escape by chemicals
to escape this shallow prison of superficiality,
vanity and dead colors
longing to be loved without makeup and high heels,
without funny jokes and approved opinions, sexy walks and confident attitude

i wish they knew that they are
and what they are

The above lyrics should speak for themselves, and in my opinion are freaking brilliant (why didn’t they release these in the first place when the CD came out?). You can hear the song here.

One more great line from the band Oh, Sleeper, the song “Vices Like Vipers” (listen here):

“And to the girls,
You’re worth more than the cheap words.
You see your body as beauty, but your pulse is worth more.”

Women in American society (and plenty of other societies, I presume) are under immense pressure to make themselves look a certain way. They’re constantly told that unless they act and look a certain way, they won’t be seen as desirable, and therefore will be unable to find a good man, and therefore will be unfulfilled for the rest of their lives. They spend all of their time trying to make themselves look beautiful, when they don’t realize that they already are (see title quote… cheesy, I know). I think of all the women I know, and I can’t think of one of them that I haven’t at one time thought to myself that she was beautiful in one way or another (and yes, that was my pitiful attempt to score points with all the women in my life). The tragedy lies in the fact that many of them don’t realize this and therefore have low self-esteem, negative self-image, and feel that they are worth so much less than they actually are.

“i wish they knew that they are [loved] and what they are”

As for guys, the problem seems to mainly lie in the message that says that they need to be tough, stoic, and completely masculine (whatever that means). Not to get too personal, but growing up as an unathletic, scrawny, quiet kid made me feel like there was probably something wrong with me. So, instead of just accepting who I was and being confident with that, I figured I was inadequate and just became angry with myself and everyone around me. (All the while, of course, I had the whole weight of Christianity on me, which made everything even worse, but that’s another story that you can read here.) Anyway, what I didn’t realize, and what many men don’t realize, is that expressing emotion and having an interest in non-physical activities doesn’t make a man weak. “Variety is the spice of life,” people.

I’ve come to realize over the years (22 of them!) that God created people to be the way they are for a reason. No one is an accident, and no one’s personality is an accident either… God created each of us in a specific way and made us different on purpose. I no longer look on jocks and “stuck-up” girls as if they’re worthless or complete jerks. I realize that these people have problems of their own and they only act the way they do in order to appear beautiful (or whatever positive term you want to put there). My previous need to see others as worthless sinners (in my opinion, a typically Christian disorder) that could never be my friends unless they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and improved their behavior and… (etc., etc., etc.) has been (mostly) replaced with a genuine appreciation for all types of people (whether they are “my type” of people or not). I’m continually learning that even those who seem to be most self-assured and confident need love and acceptance just as much as anyone else.

“I used to wonder where you are-
these days I can’t find where you’re not!”
-mewithoutYou- “The Sun and the Moon”