Judging a book by its cover. It’s essentially a pastime of the human race. Our eyes see and our mind forms opinions, in an innate, lighting-fast reaction. You see, and you believe, even things that are not really there.
You are proving this right now by looking at these pictures, coming to conclusions about me or perhaps using those thoughts to assess yourself. We are so quick to equate physical traits with non-physical ones, deducing what it’s like to be someone based solely on how they look.
I know this because I lead a passionate career in an industry where image is everything, where handshakes are preceded by once-overs and where your body serves as a billboard for your brand. People regularly, casually, and yet with deep desire, do not hesitate to comment on my body. And while one might think this would do wonders for my ego, it actually does the contrary. It leaves me feeling empty, vulnerable, wondering if my identity will ever not be based on how I appear.
I honestly do not know if that will ever be the case. I do not know it for me, nor for you, nor for the generations who have no choice but to follow our trail. How do you untangle your self worth from your appearance in a society that places so much value on it? How do you separate the person you are from the place where that persona chooses to live?
A good start is to be authentic. To ensure that the image you reflect embodies the values that have you following their lead. To know who you are and why you do things, and to own these assertions with everything you’ve got. To know – and truly believe – that you are more than the sum of your parts.
This is the mission that I insist on guiding me. It’s pretty much the only thing that keeps me sane. This isn’t to say that abiding by this law is easy. Doing so requires willpower and self pep talks and resisting urges to look away. Because that image in the mirror isn’t fooled by you. It, more than anyone, knows if who you are is who you really want to be.
So let us all vow to live with integrity. To recognize and accept that the judgments we place on appearances are reflecting back our deepest insecurities, misconceptions and prejudices with a powerful, blinding glare. It will take effort and commitment, but it will weave a truly fulfilling tale. It will tell more about you than any curve, any sinew possibly can.