Rachel is smart.
Rachel is smart.
Rachel is good at maths.
(and more of the same)….
All very nice things to be said about a person. But at age 15 this isn’t what I wanted to hear.
In high school, we performed an exercise in which each person writes their name at the top of a piece of paper and the paper is subsequently passed around to each person, for them to write something nice about that person on the bottom. Then they fold the sentence over and pass it to the next person.
At age 15, I wanted to see something like “Rachel has pretty eyes”, or “Rachel is beautiful”.
Thankfully, I have moved on from my obsession over physical appearance, and yet there are many thousands of people who seem to spend their entire life chasing that goal. In Australia, over $1 billion are spent on cosmetic surgery procedures each year. Approximately $3.6 billion were spent on cosmetics in 2013-14.
At 15, I really didn’t want the best thing that could be said about me, to be that I was smart. I knew I was smart, I was already confident and comfortable with being smart. But I was sure I was better than that. I wanted to be attractive.
However, there was one sentence that stood out.
Rachel works well with everyone.
Even though it didn’t say I was beautiful, I really appreciated that sentence, especially because I was fairly certain it was from a girl who I had been in a tense friendship with for a while.
Not only is beauty subjective, but it is transient to the beholder. By its very nature, beauty can’t last forever. Beauty is surprising and fresh. Anything becomes dull if you see it all the time. Who would want to be married to a model just for their good looks? When you become used to their appearance, how will you find them attractive if they have no character behind that mask?
Why do so many trophy wives become discarded after they lose their shine? Even while they are still young and attractive.
So, upon reflection, I am so glad that I didn’t just receive sentences saying Rachel is beautiful, Rachel has great eyes, Rachel is attractive. As if the best thing that could be said about me would be that I was good-looking. I want to be more than that. I want to be of value to the world around me. I want the best thing that can be said about me to be that I am kind. And if that’s not what I would receive on my piece of paper, then I’m not trying hard enough!
I urge you to cast your thoughts to what your appearance means to you and what value you place on it.
If you did this exercise now, what do you think the best thing that would be said about you would be?
Would it be what you want it to be?
If not, you should put some time into considering those virtues and how you can become known for being something other than the smartest person in the room or the most attractive person in the room. There are more important things. You can be of more value to the world than that.
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Do gym because you love your body and want to be healthy, or because you enjoy a challenge and meeting friends. Train your body because you respect yourself and others. Don’t do it to achieve attractiveness because although people who are healthy are more attractive, specifically training to achieve attractiveness is a wasted endeavour when you could be working on more worthwhile things that will make you happier.
It is difficult for people to respect others, care for others or be productive in the community, if they don’t first respect, love or strive to achieve in themselves. What point of reference do they have?
Be healthy, be confident, be the best you that you can be, and you will also be attractive!