Appearances

The strangest things give me ideas to blog about.  Today, I was going to my fridge (as I do over 556 times per day) and noticed a refrigerator magnet.  It was a campaign magnet from Ron Paul's 2008 campaign.  What came to my attention (and it has bothered me many times before) was that the picture they used was from roughly 20 years ago.  I have seen people try to slam Ron Paul, and they invariably use current pictures, showing his true age, and with a ridiculous look on his face too.  Of course, this isn't unique to Ron Paul.  Nearly everyone famous does this--they use "good" pictures for themselves and their opponents use "bad" pictures of them.

First of all, the fact that something this shallow actually works the way it is intended to bothers me, but that's another discussion.  The truth is I don't think there's anything wrong with someone trying to look "good", to present emself well.  What bothers me is the fact that we, as a society, have such a narrow view of what "good" is.  For example, age.  That's what sticks out to me most when I see this campaign ad of Ron Paul's.  He doesn't look like that anymore, and he didn't look like that in 2008.  He has white hair.  In the photo, all his hair is dark.  What bothers me is that we do not see beauty in age.  We only see beauty in youth.  We insist that in order to be attractive, a person must look somewhere between age 20 and 40.

Another image concern is that of body shape, and weight.  Overweight people are considered ugly.  In fact, much to my disappointment, as I was coming out of the closet and watching many "It gets better" videos, I saw so many people talk about their bullies getting fat after high school, and how this was some sort of revenge on them or something.  To me, all that indicated was that the bullied gay teen had become a bully by ridiculing the fat people who were the bullies in school.  We do not see beauty in fat, we only see beauty in thinness or muscularity.  There is so much pressure to "get in shape" and lose weight.

I do not think that it is psychologically healthy to have these demands.  It is not reasonable to expect everyone to look young and thin.  It is not reasonable to dictate that young and thin is the only body type which people should have.  I think that every person should love eir own body, and have a positive self-image.  Not only that, I think that appreciation of bodies other than young and slender should be socially acceptable.  As I have blogged about in the past, there is a sub-community of people who are sexually attracted to fat people.  They (we) should be allowed to express those feelings, without feeling shamed by people who constantly ridicule fat people and say how fat and ugly go hand in hand.

I think that we need to broaden our view of what "good" appearance is.  I don't think that equating old age or obesity with ugliness is healthy, nor is it kind.  I think that we can find beauty in old age, and in round shapes.  I think we can find beauty in wrinkles and love handles.  We don't need to simply accept the message thrust upon us by all of our media sources, and cosmetic companies, which insist that young and thin is the only appreciable appearance.  Actually, talking about the media, I just watched the movie In & Out yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find a young, attractive male who expressed his appreciation for large women.  We need more of that.