Does Your Nose Fit Your Face?

January 10, 2013
To what extent are we defined by our physical selves?

Red roseTo write posts that I can schedule for when while I’m writing the second edition of Letting Go of Our Adult Children, I’ve been doing a little research on the Internet for various topics. And I have made a very interesting discovery.

On a wide variety of websites I have come across an inordinate number of ads for a Dr. John Hilinski, Facial Plastic Surgery. A banner with lovely blue background and the side view of a woman’s face carries this statement: “The Nose Defines Our Face. The Proper Approach Creates Facial Harmony.”

Then I went to his website, where I found pictures of extraordinarily beautiful women with “perfect” noses, unblemished skin and white teeth. The pictures of women who had had procedures done looked to me like perfectly fine “ordinary” people in both before and after shots. Not an “ugly” one among them. I would even consider some of them beautiful before the operation.

As I went through the site, I wondered three things.

Is he doing a special ad campaign on lots of websites for his services? Or did I just happen to stumble across his ads on the particular sites I saw today?

Here are at least three I remember: Barnes and Noble, World of Christmas, and Freelang. Actually, there were more, but at first I didn’t think to keep track. And when I returned I noticed the ad was switched on some of them, which is something I do with banners on my own site. So if you want to check the ads they may not be there.

Since Dr. Hilinski practices in San Diego and I am in Los Angeles county, do the websites know that?

Do you agree that our noses define our faces? What about our eyes, mouths, cheekbones, necks, ears, or the combination of all of them?

I have often heard it said that the individual features of Sophia Loren’s face were not classical, but put together the way they were, the result was stunning.

Okay, the truth is that I don’t like my nose, but I am not about to change it for the sake of “facial harmony.” It’s too bad we are told that we aren’t okay if we don’t have the perfect nose, mouth, etc.

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

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Can We Change Our Looks Too Much? Part 3

March 4, 2011
If we truly loved ourselves and accepted others just as they are, would we still feel a need to make major changes to our bodies in order to be “good enough?”

[ If you have not yet read Part 1 and Part 2, I recommend you read those before this. ]

Mary Lou Cook, multi-talented community activitistWhen I wanted an illustration for this post, I entered “old people” in the search field on Wikimedia (my favorite site for great royalty-free photos) and found this vibrant 91-year old lady, Mary Lou Cook, who has left her imprint in cities around the country as a calligrapher, constant volunteer, peace activist, minister, teacher, author, organizer, and cancer survivor.

Her face is not attractive to us because it is free of wrinkles, but because her wrinkles speak of the joy of living a vibrant life.

Or are you bothered by her wrinkles?

Setting Standards for Others

How bothered are you by how others look? I know some people who, in my opinion, would look “better” if they used a different shade of lipstick, or cut their hair, or let it grow, or wore more makeup, or wore less makeup, or wore clothes that didn’t make them look so fat, etc.

Some of these people don’t seem to care how they look. Others don’t seem to know how they are viewed by others. Why should it matter to me?

Why should I presume to determine whether someone else is dressed to my satisfaction, or has features I consider attractive?

Much of the answer lies in the fact that I’ve been watching and reading ads for 75 years and am fairly clear about society’s standards. That has taken up a lot of my brain circuits. Now it is taking awhile to clean them out and replace them with plain old acceptance.

I write about transforming judgment into acceptance in Healing Relationships is an Inside Job — and I acknowledge that this process doesn’t happen overnight.

I want those who are bothered by their judgments of others to know that as I have learned to love and like myself more, I love and like others more. Of course, I’m not a saint yet. I still sometimes make snap judgments about others. But now I have a way to short-circuit those judgments.

For example, last week at the mall there were several people I thought “should” look different in dress or face or hair. Then, recognizing I was doing it again, I consciously opened my heart to them, feeling my heart expand. In less than half a minute I found myself accepting them just as they were.

It felt so much nicer inside than to have me think they should be someone they aren’t. Even more, when I do this, I discover that I am interested in who they are, what they do, and what it is about their lives that has made them who they are.

What is the tipping point between caring enough about how we look and caring too much?

For me, the answer to the “tipping point” question comes down to the issue of why we don’t like our looks.

If we believe that God made us, then do we think God made a mistake? If we are Asian and want to change the slant of our eyes, what does that say about our rejection of our racial identity? If we are Jewish and have a large nose, what does that say about how we want to fit within the culture where some people may be anti-Semitic?

Because I was born into a social and cultural group in which I haven’t had to fight for the rights I take for granted, I can’t criticize those who believe they will have a better chance if they make some nips and tucks here and there.

However, I think it is important to realize that our emphasis on looks is often a case of not liking ourselves deep down, where it really counts. If we like ourselves just as we are, we are less likely to be bothered by whether or not others like the way we look.

On the other hand, if we are focused on whether someone is judging us on our looks, we are more likely to spend an excessive amount of fussing and painting before we stick our heads out the door.

Let me emphasize that when someone goes to a little bit of trouble to look “better,” I don’t see a problem with that. But just as addiction can be defined by doing something that interferes with several areas of one’s life, if the emphasis on looks keeps us from having time, energy and money to expend on other things, maybe it’s time to see whether we have gone past the tipping point into “too much” emphasis on our external and might be skimping on our internal beauty.

Standards set by plastic surgery

I want to end these posts about changing the features that nature has given us with comments about breast implants and the plastic surgery industry.

Before breast augmentation was possible, some men liked women with larger breasts. After all, breasts are part of sex. An agreeable part at that. But when it became possible to increase the size that came with our specific body, large breasts became the gold standard. And boy, some of the sizes women buy now are absolutely amazing!

Consequently, women can get depressed because they feel they weren’t given “enough” by nature to catch a man or to compete with other women. That’s when many of them run to the plastic surgeon’s office to set up an appointment.

I’m glad I’m not among them. I haven’t been blessed with enough to fill out all my clothes the way they are “supposed” to be filled out, or enough to be given a role in a chorus line. On the other hand, I have enough to have nursed four children, including a set of twins. And my husband likes me just the way I am. Thank goodness.

Five question we would all do well to consider

Do you like your friends because they are good looking, or do you like them for some other quality they express in their lives?

If they had the body of  a “culturally-defined” gorgeous woman or handsome man, would you like them better? Why?

Do your friends like you because of how you look, or because of the way you treat them?

Do you think that if you had the body of  a “culturally-defined” gorgeous woman or handsome man, would your friends like you better? Why?

If we truly loved ourselves and accepted others just as they are, would we still feel a need to make major changes to our bodies in order to be “good enough?”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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Can We Change Our Looks Too Much? Part 1

February 24, 2011
Why are we so focused on how our bodies look?

Morris Oxford MO

[See note at the end for why I have used a picture of a car as an illustration for this post.]

Yesterday morning after I had my hair colored, I thought about an email I received from a friend the other day.

It seems that a 54-year old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience.  Seeing God she asked “Is my time up?”

God said, “No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.”

Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a facelift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color and brighten her teeth! Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.

After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was killed by an ambulance.

Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 43 years? Why didn’t you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance?”

God replied: “I didn’t recognize you.”

Apparently the moral of the story is that God loves you the way you are.

Unfortunately, people tend not to like themselves very much. What with the diet, supplement and fashion industries telling us what we “should” look like, it’s not surprising that some of us color our hair. Others have face lifts, tummy tucks, breast implants, and liposuction.

When we’re told we would look better if _____, it’s hard not to think a little improvement is needed to make us more acceptable. But does that mean acceptable to us or to others?

I have convinced myself that since my face doesn’t have much natural color, I think I look washed out when my hair is gray. My sister has gray hair and it looks attractive on her. On the other hand, people tell me I look younger than I am and I admit I like the compliments. Is it my hair or my face or the way I act? I’ll let others decide.

In any case, I think God would still recognize me.

But when is change too much? When do we go too far beyond the simple act of doing something that adds a bit of flair and style to our persona, like coloring our hair; applying mascara, rouge and lipstick; or having a tattoo. When do we negate the person we are meant to be without operations and botox?  When do we announce to the world that we aren’t okay just the way nature made us, when our bodies reflect someone we were not born to be? Michael Jackson comes to mind. Would he have been less talented if he hadn’t had all those operations?

In the middle of writing this post I took a break on my exercise bike and read a little more from Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. This is what she had a man thinking about the female protagonist:

She’s the first woman he’s ever known who doesn’t give a damn how she looks or is completely happy with the way she looks, which amounts to the same thing. Usually women are aware of complex formulas regarding how long the legs should be in relation to the waist in relation to the eyelashes — a mathematics indecipherable to men but strangely crucial to women.

Since my weight is about the same it been for years, but shifting to the front, I know what he means. I’m trying not to pay too much attention to the mathematics of it, but it isn’t easy.

If you think you have to change your body in order to be liked, or in order to like yourself, here are four questions that may help you decide whether you’re okay the way you are.

What woman (or man) had the greatest impact on you growing up?

How much of her (or his) influence was related to her (or his) size?

How much time in your life have you spent thinking about changing, promising to change, wishing you could change aspects of your body?

If you could have all that energy back, where would you direct it?

These questions were suggested by the Real Women Project, a website I strongly suggest you visit. Especially look at the sculptures of women of all sizes and shapes and read the wonderful poetry describing each person. Here is an explanation of the sculptures from the website:

The sculptures are a limited edition of thirteen bronzes created in the lost wax process. They were commissioned to provide real evidence of the real bodies of women in contrast to the illusion of Barbie. They are the same size as the popular doll. The limited edition sells for $50,000. The hope of the founders of the Real Women Project is that these sets of bronzes will be used by teaching and healthcare organizations to focus and facilitate experiential learning regarding body image and self-esteem.

Note about picture above:

I didn’t know when I started looking for a picture to illustrate “face-lift” that I would find pictures of cars. You guys (and maybe a few gals) would know why. I didn’t. I just wanted to have before-and-after pictures of someone who had a face-lift. But I didn’t have time to get permission to use any of them and was intrigued by the pictures of car. Why cars?

So I went to Wikipedia and discovered that according to Laurance Yap, Canadian Driver, and apparently a Wikipedia editor: “Mid-cycle facelifts for cars are usually just cosmetic: a little nip here, a little tuck there, new lights and maybe a couple of different trim pieces to maintain interest in an aging vehicle for an extra couple of years before a full redesign.”

So I went to one of my favorite places for royalty-free illustrations, Wikimedia. Since I love old cars, this struck my fancy. Wouldn’t this be neat to park in your driveway?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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