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August 19, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Nurse’s Note – Make You Feel Unpretty Too

We are subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda about our appearance, from advertisements, movies, TV, magazines and newspapers. It’s impossible to look at any of them without seeing images of slim, sexy, tanned, toned, fashionably dressed, groomed, made-up, botoxed, and photoshopped people. There are articles about how to whiten your teeth, tone your abs, slim your thighs, make your legs look longer or your eyes bigger, develop a pert bottom or a six-pack, or disguise hair loss. There are endless articles about diets, and how to lose weight so that you’ll look good in your togs come summer. There are shows where stylish people sneer at those less endowed, and tell them how to dress better; there are programmes where people compete to lose weight. Beauty contests still exist.  Jeans manufacturers have changed their sizing because smaller numbers on the label make women feel better (and of course buy more jeans)—after all, what could possibly be more affirming than to be a size zero?

While most of this is targeted at women, men are also a market: because of course, this is all about money and power. We are constantly being told how inadequate we are—how fat, ugly, badly proportioned, wobbly, smelly, lazy, and badly dressed we are; how we fail to meet the standards imposed by a consumerist society, and how we should try harder to improve ourselves: eat less, buy more, and feel worse about ourselves. The consequences are frequently self-dislike, even self-loathing and self-punishment. Many of us are deceived into believing that if we just get thinner, life would be happy and we would magically feel acceptable. Tragically, for some of us, restricting our eating in order to become thin becomes a personal challenge, and the only way we feel able to exercise power over our lives. Even those with a robust sense of self find it hard to maintain their self-esteem in the face of such an onslaught.

But we do not have to succumb to this! We can aspire to better things. We can reject these artificial, commercially driven standards of attractiveness and beauty, and develop less superficial ways of assessing ourselves and others.  We can work on accepting and liking ourselves: this means making choices based on what enhances our lives, takes us further along our chosen path, makes us more joyous and better people. It means giving up judging our bodies and our appearance by the standards of the advertising industry. We don’t have to measure up. What we have to do is be fully alive, and celebrate uniqueness, individuality and diversity.

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