Doing it for myself

This is another post inspired by a recent conversation, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while.

Wanting to look good is not a crime. Being clean, smart, dapper, co-ordinated and so on. More power to you! It’s good stuff. Keep it up.

The point at which my eyebrow starts to arch, is the point at which someone says “I don’t do it for other people – I do it for myself.”

I don’t understand that at all.

I had a friend, a long time ago. She was a lawyer. Fiercely bright. Brilliantly witty. Ferocious in almost every way possible. If you were to ask me “Who, of all the people you have ever known, genuinely does not give a shit what people think about them?” – it would be her.

Then she got a nose job. I was perplexed. Why? “I had a huge nose. I wanted to do it – for me. To make myself feel better.”

Okay. But it’s not for you, then. It’s for everyone else. It’s to stop other people saying “Oh, you have a big nose!”. But why would you care about a person who would say something like that?

I imagine very few of us were born and raised in a featureless white box and deprived of all human contact or communication.

If you were – firstly, that sounds horrible. I’m sorry. Secondly, well done for getting out of there, or at least getting the internet. Thirdly, it must have been interesting lacking that crucial context. Right?

You don’t know if you are fat or thin, tall or short, big-nosed or… Well, anything at all. You have no baseline against which to measure yourself. It’s all meaningless without that aforementioned context.

We need other people. We can only figure out what we are, by comparing to and contrasting with a broader group.

Oh. They all say I have a big nose, and they all have a smaller nose than me. Okay, I guess that means I really do have a big nose. I never realised, trapped as I was in a white box. It never even occurred to me. It’s just not important. (Hopefully, it’s still not important.)

If you are particular about the way you dress, the makeup you wear, your haircut… Don’t ever tell me you don’t care what other people say. I will not believe you. You may believe you, but I will not.

It’s all for them. Their explicit or implicit approval, or at least reaction, underpins all of your efforts.

I think it would be interesting if we were all more honest. I want to impress you. I want you to think that I am a good writer, and I want you to think my posts are interesting. Worth reading. Worth sharing, even.

I want approval.

Don’t we all?

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2 Responses to Doing it for myself

  1. Emma says:

    If you mean that we care how other people think we look, I can assure you that one rather gets over that when you realise that the “aesthetics” most people value are spoon-fed to us by capitalist and patriarchal entities. You’re a small boned, blonde-haired white woman? Good for you! Enjoy your privilege, but rest assured that those of us who weren’t so privileged have already swallowed the red pill. We have to do things for ourselves because whatever we do the wide world will judge us as wanting.

    • drakelazarus says:

      While I agree about the social construct stuff, that’s not quite what I was getting at. I was trying to target quite a specific, anecdotal case of “I like to look good, and I do it specifically for myself not for others”, which I think is fundamentally contradictory.

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