Monday, 15 March 2010

On not feeling beautiful

This post comes about because I met a random person.
In the early hours of Sunday morning someone I know was assaulted and ended up as an emergency hospital admission. He's now ok - bruised and swollen, but ok - and discharged. This post isn't about him, however. It's about the woman in the next cubicle.
She was waiting for psychiatric assessment/admission. We got to talking. Her story was essentially this. She's a single mother with a professional job, and she's bought into the whole commercial/advertising beauty thing of how unless you're perfect in every physical way, you're worthless as a person.
As a man of a certain age, with a lot of grey hair and crows' nests, never mind feet, marching around the corners of my eyes, I basically don't care too much about the whole beauty/makeup/cosmetics thing. But throughout yesterday and today I couldn't help but notice how much advertising in women's mags, TV and every other form of media is trying to make a fast buck out of women's insecurities. And in the process people can get hurt. They can be made insecure and psychologically damaged. Which is what happened to this woman.
No doubt there's a longer backstory there but I see no reason to doubt what she said about herself, the effects of the social and commercial pressures on her, and the insecurities brought about by relentless media barrage of how, unless you're perfect in every way, your life is somehow worthless - and, of course, your salvation will lie in buying that new mascara/lipstick/hair dye or whatever.
So as a tribute to an anonymous woman with a psychiatric problem, what I want to say is: beauty isn't about physical appearance, it's about how you feel inside. Beauty is about feeling secure in yourself. If you can connect with that security, you look beautiful to others irrespective of physical looks and makeup. Don't believe the commercial hype, and realise that if you're still standing after everything the world throws at you, you're a beautiful person no matter what.
Now that's a story that seems to be worth writing. It may be an erotic story, it may not. But I think it's something worth running with. And if I do write it, and it gets published, I'll have to acknowledge that it's down to a random meeting with someone who was, at the time, in a very dark place. And if she ever gets to read it, I'd hope she'd like it.

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