Tuesday, 5 August 2014

How good looking am I?

My wife, son and I went to Northland Shopping Center on the weekend to buy our nephew a Confirmation present. While we were there, my wife decided to get a massage, so I walked Adam around in the pram while she was being pampered.

Not being a fan of shopping, unless actually looking for something specific, I simply walked Adam around until Suz was done. While walking, I couldn't help but notice all of the unrealistic clothing billboards on the shop windows. All of them sported super attractive men and women, more than likely photo-shopped to the eyeballs, staring suggestively at me in their various poses. I admired the physical beauty of the first few, thinking, if only I could be as fit as that bloke, or, gee God is good making women as beautiful as they are.
After the first few though, I took a look around at the hundreds of other shoppers walking past these billboards. I can safely say that none of the blokes were as ripped as those on the windows (although none of the models in the ads were wearing moccasins, but that's a separate issue!) and none of the women were as photoshopped  as the women on the glass.

The irony struck me so clearly I actually shook my head and laughed. Here were all these clothing labels supposedly appealing to the general shopper, none of which looked anything like the models that advertised their brand. What a lie.

For a brief moment I wondered why we don't see advertising with average day to day people, then I remembered the effect of the almighty dollar and the currency we place on being attractive.

In those few moments, while Adam stared out of the pram pulling faces at passes by, I was starkly reminded about how obsessed our society is with appearance and looks.

It reminded me of a conversation I couldn't help but overhear at the footy the week before. A young lady behind me, in amongst ear piercing barracking that would have been heard in the next post code, was talking to her friend about the guys all of their friends were dating. The majority of the comments went something like this:

"I don't know how she pulled him, she's hardly hot".

"She's honestly the nicest girl I've ever met, she's just not good looking".

"Oh yeah, she's beautiful, I wish I could look like that".

I felt like turning around and saying "Lady, I'm happy for you to keep bashing my ear drum supporting your team, but I really don't care to hear about who's 'hot' and who's not."

It is little wonder we have body image problems predominantly in teenage girls, or kids with eating disorders before they are old enough to pay for a dinner themselves. 

I don't know about you, but I don't want my daughter to eat three snow peas a day because she feels pressured to look a certain way. I don't want my son to think he has to be able to lift 100 kegs to pull a girlfriend. Our society is obsessed with looks. It's mantra is all about shining from the outside in. That is, if you're attractive on the outside, you must be an attractive person on the inside.

I was a member of a speaking panel at a conference at the Park Hyatt on the weekend. One of my fellow panelists was a young lady who has set up an organisation called All.U.Re. All.U.Re's goal is to "promote holistic beauty" and "challenge the limited notion of beauty prevalent in our society." All.U.Re "encourage girls to discover and embrace the value of their allure – their inner and outer beauty...and help young women value themselves from the inside out". 

As I listened to the talk, I was thinking about the lady at the footy. Based on the 120 minutes of conversation I heard, she seemed to value herself from the outside in. She's not alone. Every fashion shop at Northland clearly valued men and women from the outside in. They could all do with a visit to the All.U.Re website. 

Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with looking nice and there is nothing wrong with physical beauty. However, when we place a premium on these things, more so than focusing on genuine relationships, on valuing our husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and friends based on who they are and not what they look like, or letting our kids be kids rather than pushing them into child beauty pageants, in time we will find that our relationships are substanceless. They'll have to be, because looks fade and if the relationship is based solely on looks, what will it stand on when the looks call it a day?

If you want your relationships to go the distance, embrace them for what they are, not what they look like. Value your friends and partners for who they are, not what they look like. Aim to be virtuous, full of character and substance. Because if you put a premium on looks, you're going to be disappointed when you invariably get old and wrinkly.

All the best,


  1. Agreed, everything is based on looks and is being enhanced by social media, where we all put up our 'best' photos and then eagerly wait on the number of likes we get. Interesting piece

  2. Thanks Bridget. Couldn't agree more. I'm over selfies!