You would have to have a description of my friend, Barbie Dahl, to understand the irrationality of her decision. Barbie Dahl is not her real name, but it is so befitting this statuesque beauty with the piercing dark eyes and the stunning features. “Red carpet beautiful” – that’s how people always described her. “She is so beautiful she could walk the red carpet with ‘The Stars’ and fit right in!”
Barbie, as beautiful as she is, however, struggles with feelings of low self worth. Somewhere in the course of her life, she has developed the erroneous belief that all she has to offer the world is her good looks. As she was nearing 50, her looks were beginning to fade and she was SCARED!!! When she confessed to me one day that she “just doesn’t feel good” about herself because of the way that she currently looks and she had scheduled some plastic surgery because she believed it was just the thing that she would need to “boost” her self esteem, everything inside of me screamed, “NOT YOU TOO!!!” She already so closely fit society’s definition of the “Perfect 10” that if she felt the need to permanently and surgically alter her appearance than virtually no one is insulated from the lie that a woman’s worth is based on “how good she looks.”
It is absolutely false that a woman can only feel good about herself if she has a certain body type or a certain look. Quite honestly, we need to be much more concerned about being good on the inside than we are about looking good on the outside. The more of us who yield to the societal pressure that we need to conform to a certain physical appearance rather than honoring and cherishing our bodies as sacred gifts, the more this lie is reinforced and perpetuated and the more deeply imbedded into our cultural psyche it will become.
According to statistics from the Counseling Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds while the “standard of feminine beauty,” the average model, is 5 feet 11 inches and weighs a mere 117 pounds!!! The latter is an almost unattainable standard for 98% of the American female population and even for those who do have “the look,” many have achieved it through either an extreme lifestyle or surgical augmentation of their appearance or both. By buying into the lie that our worth as women is dependent on achieving a certain look, we put undue pressure not only on ourselves, but also on one another to achieve what in many cases is elusive and unattainable.
The truth is, however, that each woman has a unique God-given beauty – both inside and out!!! Rather than devoting our lives to the pursuit of some elusive standard of beauty, let us all band together to honor and celebrate our diversity and our individual beauty!!!
Barbie’s surgery didn’t resolve her feelings of low self-worth – if anything her problems were actually compounded. She was absolutely devastated when the surgery wasn’t the magical answer she had hoped it would be. I believe this is in large measure because she had looked to a surgeon to artificially grant her with something that she could only give to herself – self love and realization of her inherent worth!!! May we all put our very best effort into discovering and cherishing our own brand of beauty, and thereby, increase the realization of our tremendous inherent self worth .