We are programmed to like beautiful things. The butterfly above is most certainly visually pleasant to look at, but I would argue what makes it more so is the fact that it could care less what you or I think about it. It’s doing and being what it was created to do and be.
With people, as usual, it’s a bit more complicated. It really shouldn’t be as we were also all created for a valuable purpose, but too often we judge that value based on how we look. Women, especially tend to fall for this, myself certainly included.
Women, beauty and insecurity are always popular topics for discussion, but this article, “Don’t Judge Yourself by Social Media Likes” by Hadley Heath Manning of the Independent Women’s Forum, takes a refreshingly empowering angle that encourages self reflection on what constitutes self worth and how to develop more healthy thought patterns about it.
Body image issues have always been with us of course, but social media has put self-obsession on steroids, where value is determined by the number of thumbs ups your post gets. I thank God Facebook was not around when I was teenager, really I actually do. The instant scrutiny and comparing my “likes” to others would have driven my hopelessly insecure self over the edge.
It’s popular today to blame women’s insecurity about how they look on men, or the culture or some weird invisible patriarchy but I don’t think that’s at all helpful to women, nor fair to men. I agree with Manning from the article who says,
“It would be another oversimplification to say that we live in a sexist, patriarchal society that holds women to a different standard than men. It may be true that women’s appearances (their hair and makeup, fashion choices, age) get more attention than men’s, but we can’t just blame men for this. Often, it’s women who are putting pressure on ourselves to look a certain way. It may be a natural or evolutionary instinct for women to try to look young and beautiful.”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and making an effort to do so. Men of course do this too but women much more so, it’s just in our nature. It’s when we base our self worth as a person on how we look that get’s us in to trouble. Blaming men or society for this stifles efforts at discovering our own self-identity and living more authentically. Certainly there is nothing more beautiful than observing someone living like this, just as God created them to be.
Just as a butterfly goes through many difficult twists and changes to morph in to its true being, so can’t we all. And how liberating that is, as the article states,
“Let’s all give ourselves some grace when it comes to the way we look and the way we want others to see us: It’s human nature to want to seek approval and to be liked. But it’s not the approval of others that ultimately defines who we are, on the Internet, or off. Recognizing this truth is ultimately freeing…”