Appearance *is* everything

So, this is doing the rounds, in my case, on its second revolution of Facebook, courtesy of the very lovely and talented Caroline Smailes. I love these kind of posts and they honestly keep me sane on a Monday, Tuesday… you get the drift.

Whilst I find it hilarious, I also can’t help but cringe a little – because that’s exactly what I do. I know, I know, so do scores of other, irrational and mildly body-dysmorphic souls. And it’s fair to say that I spend more than a tiny amount of my existence championing the larger, curvier figure (in both sexes). But still, there’s that innate sense of needing to make yourself comply with the ‘norm’ and perhaps, appear a little more, let’s say, polished, for the social media masses – friends or otherwise.

Since time immemorial, people have always spouted how, ‘beauty is only skin deep’ or ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and yes, everyone’s taste ranges hugely. Thank heavens it does. Yet, even the staunchest advocate of ‘it’s the inner person that counts’ will,

a) Get dolled up to the nines for a night out with the girls/boys.

b) Sharpen up to the max for a job interview or important meeting.

c) Wear a fancy, schmancy hat and crippling shoes for a wedding.

d) Have a completely separate wardrobe for work.

It’s infuriating! In a world full of size minus twos, sleek glossy hairstyles, immaculate make-up, flawless complexions and expensive designer labels, the vast majority of us Normaltons are bound to feel out of place. And not just a notch, either.

If it’s the person that counts, why can’t we go to work in pyjamas? I can’t tell you the number of afternoons in the office when I slogged away, yearning for the comforting support of my fuzzy slippers underfoot. I know people will be yelling at me, ‘Because it’s not the done thing!’. To be smartly turned out for work suggests commitment to quality, organisation, supreme work ethics. Bollocks, I say. And even more so since being at home myself, spending a little more time in the virtual company of writers, artists, creatives of all kinds and witnessing how hard they work, usually for more than the standard 40-hour week. People, this is not about how much running around we do or how fast we get there. It’s not about how many miles we’ve traversed on varying forms of public transport. The target of any job is surely what’s achieved at the end of each week.

So why the HELL does it matter what any of us wear to get there? Doesn’t this just smack of sheepdom? Are we not conforming to some unwritten ‘standard’ in society and thus perpetuating the myth that ‘it’s the person inside that counts’? Because, depending on the circumstances or the situation, we are all EXPECTED to come adorned in a pre-disposed fashion, whilst people the world over are crying out, ‘Be who YOU want to be!’ It’s the wildest of contradictions – one which even the hardiest of advocates fail to recognise.

The bottom line is, not a single one of us dress for ourselves. And the first person who reads this and begs to differ – why does it matter what you look like on the outside, when it’s the person inside that counts? I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing to want to make yourself look good. But it does rather betray the mantra, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s centuries of conditioning, toned down to seem like an issue of self-expression. Perhaps it’s more primeval than that and we really do preen and puff to attract a mate – although the caveman had little more than big tools and a loin cloth to enhance his or her magnetism. Whatever the reason, we are breathing, walking, talking proof – en masse – that a clause needs to be stuck on the end of the old adage:

‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts… but it never hurts to enhance what’s on the outside, just in case’.

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