Let’s be honest, society’s obsession with perfection has a somewhat malign effect on our lives and sense of “identity”. This includes gender identity, sexual identity, social identity, spiritual identity and of course, physical identity. The most reiterated example is the beauty industry that plays on all of the above. Marketing scare tactics have taken a rather deceitful turn for the worst. Fact: to admit to an anti-wrinkle cream is an insult to human intelligence. Nevertheless, there is a market. Pure economics of demand and supply. We have become so jaded by the obsession, passion and ambition of perfection, that we have become slaves to its misconception. Whoops that totally rhymed. Can’t you just hear it in Dr.Dre’s new rap song? Totally.
Side note: I am rather convinced that behind the glamorous beauty industry, sitting on high Philip Stark chairs are the wrinkled, pruned divas of bygone days; grappling tightly onto the fear of rejection, promising immortal beauty and a Hugo Boss looking guy when you wear the Coral No.12 lipgloss.
*Fear as M describes it: False Experiences Appearing Real – love it!
Having said all that, I do admit that there is a love-hate market for the ever-monstrous beauty industry, but that’s for another post, another day.
I’d like to look deeper into the implications of our obsession with perfection. The perfect life, job, partner, parents, deal, children, car, house, phone, friend, holiday and the list goes on. Externally, the strive itself may not be a bad thing, as long as one is not deluded with the concept of perfection and can forgive oneself for falling short. Taking a hard hand on a child who misbehaves in public for example. Everyone wants a well-behaved child but parents are so obsessed with shaping a child’s perfect identity that they lose sight of accepting the child’s innocence in his/her “imperfections”.
*I used the analogy of a child’s misdemeanor because I feel it best portrays the innocence and purity in imperfections – ranging from fatherly issues and fat thighs. Sorry kinda can’t help it. Don’t be hating.
Which brings me to the vein of the topic (or should I say, the vex that pulled the trigger). Let me just start off by saying that I have a rather laissez faire attitude – to each his own. It is an absolute cuss of mine to take a cynical step backward when someone begins a sentence with ‘You must’, ‘You have to’, ‘You should’ or ‘You better’. What is the impulse in our innate nature to tell people how to run their lives, bring up their kids, treat their partners, pick a job, choose their sexual preference, God – you get the idea. I find it rather perplexing. Have we been so molded by society’s molten idea of perfection that its now second-nature in how we dictate how others should live?
Self-help aisles at bookstores have long churned out best-sellers on the simple fact that we are obsessed with how we should live our lives, how we should feel, speak, build confidence, exercise managerial skills, get a pay raise, deal with teenagers, save a marriage and my personal favorite, quit smoking in 24 hours. Granted, I am not saying that these books do not serve a form of guidance. But with all things when it is read word by word, testament by testament, it can consume a person into believing in the absolute truth of a certain philosophy – and that we know, is a very dangerous idea. It has given life to political policies fueling racial segregation, killed millions in the name of God otherwise known as religious massacres – all of which is fueled by our cathartic need to eliminate the undesired, imperfections that challenge our ideals. Sounds rather extreme, violent and dramatic doesn’t it?
Well, perfection in its essence, is an extremely dangerous idea.
The very idea of perfection is what it is, just an idea – a concept, a mental impression, a probability, an opinion and a belief. It is man-made. Much like the “mathematical fact”of facial symmetry that drives the surgical industry that incites many bizarre and often mind-boggling acts carried out in the name of perfection – the lengthening of ones legs with built in metal rods, nips and tucks. We’re no strangers to reality TV shows like The Swan, depicting an “ugly duckling’s” journey under the knife. Perfection is not fact. A circle is deemed perfect mathematically but it might not be deemed perfect on a subjective level. Not everyone agrees on the winners on American Idol (Lambert deserved #1) or that the winner picked on America’s Next Top Model is indeed the most beautiful or that the Top Chef’s pretentious dishes will please all discerning palettes. There is no such thing as perfection because thankfully we are all blessed with different taste buds and a nugget of individuality.
Next time you flip through a magazine with headlines such as ‘Top Tips’ or ’10-MUST-HAVES!’, take it all with a pinch of reality. There is no good collocation when it comes to advice given by a concerned friend or a beauty spokesperson’s ideals. Non-prescribed wisdom is one that is not forced. What is worrying is that it no longer needs to be to convince one to adopt another person’s ideals or buy a tub of anti-wrinkle cream. We are so immune to the warning signs, so crippled by our own judgment, that it takes naught by a simple nudge to make us a statistic in marketing ploys and a member of the ‘I-told-you-so dance club’.
Embrace imperfection. Break this milky-way idea of perfection. I guess what I’m really trying to say ( 7 paragraphs later) is, don’t allow society to mandate the way you think, feel and live. Religion, parents, friends, books, magazines or Oprah – they might seem like they know what is best for you, but only you feel the winds of change, taste the venom of love and hunger for life. Ask for a second opinion, respect a point of view or an outsiders take but always decide for yourself because the self is too important an entity to disregard.
In lieu of sharing confessions of imperfections, here are some blurred, out of focus, unaligned, badly lit pictures – stuff you won’t see on my Facebook.