“Magazine prettiness has replaced real life.” I noted that in a book I once read. I can’t remember that book, but the line stuck with me. And isn’t that the truth? Everywhere we turn everyone is so intent on perfection. The message being broadcast is if it doesn’t look perfect, then it must not be worth it. We focus on making our homes look like you stepped into the latest Pottery Barn catalog and ourselves look like we stepped off the fashion runway. Cosmetic surgery patients are becoming younger and younger and I’m referring to them pre-surgery not post. We are so focused on being picture perfect that we often lose sight of our true origins, who we truly were before we started building that facade.
Yet, our origins actually have a lot to do with this perfect picture we present. Many of us were raised the old-fashioned way under the “everything’s fine” mentality. When asked, “how are you?” one’s standard response should always be “fine” because no one really wants to hear otherwise. And it’s true, we ask and answer that question multiple times a day never expecting the exchange to go differently because we all know we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry.
Just take a scroll down anyone’s Facebook news feed to find innumerable status posts regaling “friends” with how their lives are sheer perfection, their children sweet angels, their spouse Prince Charming and their bosses a joy to work with every day. The latest Pinterest craze is an oversized bulletin board of the perfect woman, wearing the perfect outfit, preparing the perfect recipe, for her perfect children, to serve in their perfectly decorated home. It’s no wonder our Christmas card photos don’t show our true selves, instead often depicting a family straight out of Pleasantville. Instead of opening our homes to friends, we hide behind closed doors for fear of giving them a glimpse into our not so orderly living rooms and ultimately chaotic lives. Are we afraid they’ll read the crayon on the wall and realize we’re just human, trying to keep our head above water?
All this effort to present ourselves in our best light, show our best side, wear our Sunday best is interesting. Do we do it because it’s what’s expected of us? Like toddlers singing, “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” are we clapping simply because everyone expects us to? Or are we afraid to take a close look at our imperfections? Afraid to express who we really are for fear of being judged? Are we that afraid to embrace our flaws and accept our quirks? Or is it easier to go with the flow, go through the motions, pretend otherwise, and not take a chance at the unknown? In a world of imitations, special effects, and cosmetic surgery it is hard to see what’s real and what’s not. Even a fake smile can start to feel like the real deal after a while. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess that depends on whether you’re on the giving end or the receiving end. Or does it?