I have a very dear actor friend who shall remain nameless, so do not ask. Lips sealed. When we were both young aspiring starlets she confessed something to me in some den of iniquity in Soho at around 4 am one dreary Wednesday morning. She whispered in hushed tones that she once hated her face so much she refused to look into any mirror for a considerable period of time. I remember throwing a hilarious caustic remark back at her; something along the lines of, “don’t blame you love, I’d feel the same if I looked like you”. We both laughed so hard the babycham shot out of our noses. But it has always stayed with me.
Today, she is one of the world’s leading actors. On a weekly basis she turns down more Hollywood directors than I have peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Which if you do not know me, is an interestingly large amount. She is an award-winning Broadway and West End star, and pretty much chooses everything she wants to do and who she wants to work with. She is living the acting dream. The bizarre thing is she gave up acting for a while due to lack of confidence, because of her looks, and took up office work while she gathered her thoughts. Her beautiful androgynous looks were sadly not fashionable like they are today. My mind boggles at the thought that she nearly missed out on an incredible career because of the ridiculous notion that the most important aspect of our being is our appearance.
Every one of us has been brought up with the belief that our appearance matters. And to a certain extent that is true, obviously. But it is my belief that we all know we place far too much emphasis on the external. So it is astounding to me that we still spend so much time and effort into making sure that we look our best at all times, or that we try to achieve as close as possible to what our vision of perfection is. This notion is sadly getting out of hand. One thing I have begun to notice, more in the UK than in Malta I have to say, is the shocking recent trend for beautiful young women to have unnecessary surgical procedures on their face. One can only assume that they feel their features need improving. This is indeed a worrying trend. What does the future hold for young girls growing up today with these women as role models? It is all so terribly, terribly sad.
I shan’t explain how our paths crossed, that is a delicious story for another time, but many moons ago James St James and I were engrossed in conversation when he told me that we should all appreciate our beauty just as it is, and if there is a part of our body we don’t like, one should accentuate it, and make a statement out of it. He quantified his argument with one of my favourite maxims; “if you have a hump on your back, don’t hide it away, take your top off and throw a little glitter on it honey!”. Wise words indeed. Although I am sure he is not prescriptive in what he says, glitter can be tricky in certain situations, admittedly.
In reality, the chances of people accentuating the aspects of their physical appearance they abhor are really rather low, understandably. However, if we could at least try and learn to accept what we see as flaws, and not want to change them, we may start to feel much happier. We judge none so harshly as we judge ourselves. At the next available opportunity, stand naked in front of a mirror and spend a decent amount of time looking at your body from all angles. Really get in touch with the feelings that arise around any parts of your body that you may find problematic. Then allow yourself the time to accept them, investigate them, and when you are feeling calmer and more relaxed, which you will, Brownie’s Honour, observe how amazing and unique your body is. Remind yourself that you are perfect just as you are.