This is a controversial topic that a lot of people have strong opinions on. I’ve touched on the subject of ‘changing’ yourself slightly in a number of different blogs, but I want to address it again head on. So let’s begin.
Each blog of mine has some history – some conversation with a friend, or a movie, or just something that’s been on my mind. This one is no different. Last week, I posted the blog ‘How Do You Know’ and Leni raised the importance of physical attraction and friendship in a relationship. Why should anyone have to sacrifice one for the other? And then just on Friday, I had a lengthy, and I mean lengthy conversation with a friend (via What’s Up) about beauty, self modifications, being with people who like us the way we are, and how God made us just as we are, etc.
We are made in the likeness of God and so we are perfect just the way we are. Let me say this though – God also made Ted Bundy, didn’t he? God made Bundy, who was incredibly handsome, charming and cultured – traits he used to rape and murder numerous young women. I know this may seem like an extreme example but I want to start from the extreme. Before you begin to lynch me, my point is that God made every single human being on this planet, all 7 billion of us (world’s population is expected to hit 7 billion in 2011), but can we really say all 7 billion of us are perfect just the way we are, and no one, absolutely no one needs any modifications?
Here’s my take on it. Jesus Christ came and died for us, so that all who believe and have faith can have eternal life. Despite that, Christians still go to Church to nourish their souls and have fellowship with other believers. So the same way we need to work on our spiritual well-beings, is there anything wrong with working on or modifying your physical or social lives?
This is a dicey one – at what point is physical modification okay, and for what reason? People are very sensitive about looks and physical beauty, rightly so, and because of that we’re not very honest with ourselves or with others. When someone overweight expresses a concern for their weight, their friends usually brush it off and say you’re perfect just the way you are. When someone eerily skinny continues to deprive themselves of food, we don’t express any concern. When Monique lost a lot of weight, her fans called her a sell-out since she’d been screaming to anyone who’d listen that she loved herself just the way she was and she loved every single curve and fold. Then all of a sudden, she loses a lot of weight. Beyond health, one of the reasons she cited was that a producer told her losing weight would give her access to better movie roles. Is losing weight for a job such a bad thing? Depsite being an Oscar and Grammy winner, Jennifer Hudson struggled with her weight and the barriers it created. She’d always advocated that she loved her size 16 curves, and now she’s a size 4 or less. Was it wrong of her to change herself in order to get better movie roles and for others to take her more seriously? Even for her, success just wasn’t enough. It seems society has a list of reasons of when self modification is okay – and the number one acceptable reason is health, any other reason is deemed wrong, vain and an insult to the God who has made us so perfect. I don’t think it is that black and white.
Is it so wrong for a man or woman to change the way they look in order to improve their chances for finding a partner? I asked a friend of mine what he was doing on Sunday, and he said he’s going running because he needs to stay fit for the ladies. He added that, if it’s between a chubby pot-bellied guy and a slender guy, the slender guy usually wins, so he wants to be fit. Tell me, please, is that really a bad thing? I told him, good for you. Of course I believe everyone has a type and there is definitely someone out there who wants you just the way you are. But I also don’t find it so wrong if you want to look better, feel confident, and improve your chances and access to the people you want.
My thing is if you’re completely, totally fine with the way you are, honestly, good for you. But if you want to change a couple of things, for whatever reason, be it to give you a better chance to find a guy/girl, or to keep your current partner, I don’t think anyone should think of you as vain or misguided or that you don’t love yourself. I remember I wrote in the blog ‘To Be or Not To Be’ that maybe I should try wearing heels a little more. My cousin apparently thought I had sold out and she was really upset – she didn’t tell me till months later though. To her, it’s important I remain true to myself. To me, I am being true to myself, but I am also adapting to my environment. If I am to be true to myself, 100% true to myself, I would wear jeans to work every day, with slippers, with my hair in a ponytail, and let me not forget, it would be t-shirts only. However, I live in a world where there are rules and etiquette that you need to abide by IF you want to be a member of society. Should I quit my job because it’s not enabling me to be true to my personal dress code? Should I break up with a boy who doesn’t appreciate that I am in jeans and tees only, even when we attend functions? Honestly, if it were completely up to me, my life would be really different. I wouldn’t have spent the $125 I spent at the salon yesterday. If it were just up to me, I’d never wear heels again in my life! Oh by the way, two male cousins of mine once said – boots and heels are the best inventions ever. So of course, every now and then, I will wear heels. Women who wear make-up, tell me, if there were no men in this world, would you wear make-up as often as you do? I went to a dinner last weekend, and I had heels in the car, but I had slippers on. It was a dinner at a nice fancy restaurant, and I would have completely preferred to enter with slippers, but when we got there, my friend encouraged me to wear the heels. She said ‘it’s a dinner, and who knows you might meet some dashing Italian hunk.’ Translation – them slippers won’t get you a dashing man. I think there is nothing wrong with thinking or even saying something like that. Yet we all pretend that in life we must only do what is true to our hearts and our nature. For the most part yes, but all of us are guilty of conforming a little to the world we live in. You know you are.
The challenge is how far can a person go? Let me say I don’t believe in invasive alterations like plastic surgery, skin bleaching, and the like.
This one is even dicier than physical modifications. People get really up in arms when anyone dares to suggest they change their behaviors or character a little. We cling onto our characters, good or bad, like a badge of honor – we say things like, listen I am who I am, take it or leave it. We also say things like, my personality has already been defined, you can’t change me. Let me throw a caveat here before anyone thinks I’m advocating that we change ourselves to please people. No, no, no. Nothing like that. Let me use myself as an example. I am very argumentative, seriously. I think it’s something I need to work on, particularly if I want to have healthy relationships with friends and loved ones. It doesn’t mean I am changing my personality, I am simply working on my communication style. So if there are elements of your character that hinders your relationships, friendships and work, is there anything wrong with changing it a bit? Is there anything wrong with working on your temper because it’s affecting your boyfriend or girlfriend? Is there anything wrong with getting help because you are surly, moody and argumentative and it’s turning people off? Should you just tell yourself you are perfect just the way you are and your personality is already set and defined?
I know who I am, I like who I am, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I have confidence in who I am. All the same, the same way I go to Church to take care of my fragile spiritual soul (I haven’t been to Church in months!), I believe in taking care of my physical and psychological well-being. And even if I decide I want to do it because it’s affecting my ability to meet people or connect, I don’t think that is so bad.
What do you think? What’s your opinion on self modifications – physical or character modifications?