Sunday, October 01, 2006

shiny, pretty things

Scott Adams has outdone himself once again. Take a look at the center panel from one of last week's strips --->

Brilliant. It reminds me of one of the quotes I have pinned up at my desk at work "The world is still deceived with ornament." (from The Merchant of Venice) It never ceases to amaze me that we are so consumed with how things look and so willing to turn a blind eye to how things are. I remember a couple of years ago I was asked to write an article on the perception of beauty around the globe. In my research I came across a quote from a plastic surgeon in Brazil. He said "Half my patients don't want to feel better, they just want to look better." How scary is that? We're so convinced that how we look is the only thing that matters that we're willing to endure painful and often risky surgery, not to correct a medical condition, but solely so that once the bandages come off we can look a little more, or a little less.

In July of 2003 James Poniewozik wrote an incredible article for Time entitled "Trading Faces". The version online is not the full article so I can't find the exact quote, but he was writing about the phalanx of make-over shows on TV (even in 2003) and the desire for someone to be able to see past our bland exterior and catch a glimpse of the real us. "We used to call that the look of love, " he wrote. "Now we just call it television." If you can get your hands on the full article, I highly recommend it.

We are like little children, reaching out for the shiny, pretty things, making no distinction between a diamond a piece of tinfoil. I think in a lot of ways, Adams is right. Hotness is like a superpower. It can blind otherwise functioning human beings into making decisions based on the most fallible of factors. I took a sociology course years ago on marriage and the family. One of the things I still remember the professor saying is that so many marriage fail today because we often choose a partner based on the one thing about them that is guaranteed to change -- they way they look.

Why are we so obsessed with what we can see? Seeing is not the same as knowing. It's easier. Is there more to it than that?


dr riptide said...

Hi Claire! I have to laugh-- my boss is currently interviewing accountants for his business. When I asked him how the first interview went, he said, "He had funny hair, and did you see his shoes??" To give my boss credit, the candidate additionally didn't meet the educational standards... but still.

Anyhow, thanks for all the blogs recently. I LOVE staying in touch... reading what you're up to/thinking. It makes me feel like I'm a real part of your life, like I'm not SO far away.

I hope all is well...



Mom Colvin said...


Excellent blog. Sad to think that human beings really haven't progressed much at all. Worse to realise that we all can get caught up in this mindset that we have to look "better".

I have to remind myself that I am a deliberate creation of God and He knew what He was doing.

Sure I have choices in some areas of my life. I can choose to present myself in various ways. I could go grey gracefully or color. I can exercise or not - my choice at the moment since I don't have health issues to consider. I can choose the level of "style" I want to project in the way I dress and the money I'm willing to commit. BUT in the end, I remain how I am. You can dress me up but you can't change me - only the Holy Spirit can do that.

It is sad that we allow ourselves to make assessments about people without taking the time and effort to get to know them. (This applies to judging and knowing ourselves too.) The longer I live, the more convinced I am that everyone has a story to tell that is worth hearing. After all, God made us all and He loves us. Shouldn't I at least try to do the same.

Keep blogging, you enrich us all.

Love, Mom XX