Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Thing About Beauty

The other day when I was feeling upset (reflected in my post Somewhere I Belong), one other thing that bugged me at the time was a small exchange I made with someone in my FB list.

She had posted a few new pics of herself and they all look stunning. For all that's worth, she's a very beautiful, slender, and tall young lady, so under one of the photos, I wrote this comment: "So pretty."

A little while later, she wrote back, "Thank you."

But right away she added, "But my cheeks are chubby."

Mind you, I was already upset at those things I wrote in that previous post - plus I'm having PMS - so the moment I read her second response, I got upset (yeah, PMS mode can be bitchy mode).

Then I wonder why I got upset simply because I read such a response. I think I got upset because I just wanted to shake her and ask, "Are you blind????? Your cheeks aren't chubby at all! Not even close!" (Believe me, anyone on earth who saw the photo would say the same and I'm not being biased here!)

Besides, what does chubby cheeks have to do with beauty? Then I started wondering if there had been people commenting that her cheeks were chubby (Indo people can be that nosy, I tells ya!). Then I got more upset 'coz if that happened, then it meant she believed what they were saying. This had happened to me in the past - I gained a few kgs in Indo, but I was happy in my own skin UNTIL people started telling me, "Oh, you've gotten chubbier these days." And then I started panicking! Sigh...

Then I got upset again 'coz I can feel the topic repeating itself in my own life, in my other female friends' lives...I wonder if men also fuss so much about beauty. I know one sore spot for R2 is the almost bald patch on his head, though I find it cute and it doesn't lessen his sexiness (I love tickling it and then scratching it and hear his sigh of relief he he he...).

It's just that at the end of the day I think to myself: Why are we so hard on ourselves? I know the world pays more attention towards our external self (esp. those who don't know us well), but why is it so hard for us to see our own beauty?

I think I've once written a post where I talked about this topic - about how in Indo I knew I didn't belong to the "beautiful girls" group. I guess it has something to do with age as well - seeking confirmation about yourself from others (read: comparing yourself with others) VERSUS knowing about yourself from within (read: embracing yourself just as who you are at the moment).

Now that I'm getting older, I find that there are days when I just wake up, look at myself in the mirror, and see a beautiful face. Don't get me wrong. On those days when I look at myself in the mirror, I'm NOT comparing myself with anyone (not even with myself in the past). I just see beauty in front of me (in the mirror) just like I see a beautiful flower or a lovely painting or something like that. It does NOT make me feel proud, but it makes me feel good in my own skin, like I belong there. It's like saying to myself: "You're a piece of artwork made by God and I love you."

This doesn't happen every day, but in the past when I was younger, it only happened after I lost some weight or after I put on some make-up and dress myself up or after I reached my weight goal. These days it's not the case anymore and I wonder if any of you has ever felt this way, too? ---> Tell me I'm not crazy!

Ah...I'm rambling...I suppose in the end the small exchange I had with that young lady just evoked the scars I had in the past when I still lived in Indo - where people would comment on my weight and made me feel like I'd done something wrong. And damn me for having succumbed to their words and their standards of external beauty!!! (I know this is easier said than done for those who live in such a pressured environment, but anyway...) OK, I'll just stop here before it gets too long he he...I'll just leave this post with this quote:

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
- Confucius


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  2. @Shinta: I think I may have become more and more westernized the longer I live here??? I think that's really fake humility, saying thank you and then adding negative stuff about yourself, but I understand what you wrote (if I looked back on my past, I remember the pressure to show "fake humility" in Indo so I suppose it's not just in Kalimantan)...but these days even if Indo people compliment me, I only say thank you without adding anything (even though I know they may only say those things without really meaning it ---> probably that's why there's the pressure to show "fake humility" because you'll never know who's kissing your ass in Indo??? Now I'm rambling).

    Anyway, to me right now, saying thank you and then adding negative stuff about yourself = not accepting the complimenter's POV (it's rude). So by saying thank you, I thank him/her for the encouragement and by not adding anything negative about myself, that means I respect his/her POV and the fact that she/he has taken the trouble to voice those compliments verbally/in writing.

    R2 doesn't exactly tell me that I'm beautiful in words, but I can see it from the look on his eyes and the way he holds me/kisses me/treats me daily. :-D

    You're really cheeky indeed HE HE HE HE HE HE HE HE...and I love your rambling. :-D

  3. Yup .. that's one of those 'basa basi' things Hans and I talked about. Some things that can be categorized as 'lying' and thus, wrong, but we do without thinking. Much like saying "Fine. Thanks" when asked "how are you?" even when we are depressed hahaha!

    Anyways, but it's good to know these things .. to learn not to do them because they are fake, but it also helps us understand why people (such as your FB friend) do it. :)

    Hehe si R2 love languagenya physical touch yach? Kalo si Hans teuh words of affirmation, makanya dia juga nyatain cinta (duileeee hahaha) lebih banyak lewat kata2 hihi Either way .. we are blessed :)

  4. @Shinta: Yeah, cultures...can't live without it, can't live with it he he...

    About what the lady in FB wrote...I hope it was just that culture thing and not someone else making her feel that her cheeks are chubby - God knows in Indo there are so many people commenting on this and that so freely.

    Yep, R2's love language is physical touch and quality time. And yeah, I remember that Hans' is words of affirmation he he he...Indeed we're blessed! :-)

  5. I have to admit that I sometimes feel anxious about my looks in that sort of way. I think it's generalized anxiety caused by various societal pressures. I am so glad that you often feel comfortable and beautiful these days. You should and you are! :)

  6. I agree, there's so much obsession in US and other places about being thin. I had a co-worker from Colombia,S.Am. who said they have even more contempt for those who are 1-20 lbs. overweight.
    All I could do is shake my head feeling bad that so many people feel that way........

  7. I think it is a typical Asian response because I hear it all the time here. People here are always trying to downplay a compliment. I am guilty of doing it myself.

  8. @Elena: Well, it's normal to feel anxious when you're in a new environment and you wonder if you look like a square peg in a round hole or not, but generally speaking we all do have moments when we're anxious about our looks...but yeah, I'm glad as time goes by those moments are getting fewer in number.

    @ChicagoWing: Yeah, with all the magazines and Photoshopped pictures, I don't wonder why people's idea of beauty has been so contorted these days.

    I can't believe there are people who feel contempt towards overweight people. That's just sad. :-(((

    @Blur Ting: THANKS for your feedback. So it seems that I've forgotten how it's like in Asia...

  9. I was so happy to read your thoughts at the end - how you are able to feel comfortable with how you look and give yourself some terrific positive self-talk. After living in Japan for many years, I would say that Asian women are particularly hard on themselves (and each other) appearance-wise. Self-discipline in living a reasonably healthy life is fine, but Japanese women really take this to a terrible extreme sometimes. By contrast, Australian women will usually complain a lot about being too fat, but in the end will listen to all her friends telling her that she looks fantastic, and will end up eating that piece of cake she was really craving! :)

  10. @Katriina: THANKS for sharing your POV. It's interesting how different pressures are in different cultures. :-))) I like Australian women better then...'coz I love eating cakes ha ha ha ha ha ha...