A few random thoughts for a Thursday, for no reason other than this is what I woke up thinking this morning.
1) If people could choose their shape without having to concern themselves about diet and exercise, what shape would most choose? What would be desirable if it could be achieved without effort?
I am wondering how much the beauty industry relies on those who are slim feeling superior. I know that perceived beauty does not equate to self confidence, but I do think that those who manage to stay slim feel that they have succeeded where the more rotund have failed. If all could choose their shape, then would most women choose to be the extremely slim shape that is currently sold as desirable? Would most men choose the supposedly attractive muscular torso? We can choose the clothes that we wear, and use this to conform to societal expectations or not. We use dress to express our individuality, or to fit in with the expected codes and fashions. If we could easily choose our body shape it would be interesting to see what choices were made. Things that do not cost, be it time, effort or money, are rarely as highly valued.
2) If people could choose, once only, to stop their body looking older, then at what age would they choose to stop? Given that they would continue to age inside, would an outward display of youth be desirable?
I doubt that many would choose to look five or ten or even fifteen years old for the rest of their lives. What about twenty though, or thirty? Would most truly wish to remain looking young?
I am well into middle age and have found a certain freedom in my changing looks that I had not expected. I have attained a sort of invisibility, no longer seen as desirable by the opposite sex or in competition with my own. I have had my career and I have had my kids. The pressure to succeed has been lifted and I am left with only myself and my loved ones to please. I am of little interest to the rest.
I am no longer bothered by sexist fools who think they flatter me by cat calling or attempting to chat me up. I feel safe when I go out alone, there but overlooked. It is empowering, exciting and a little daunting to have no expectations to meet. This is not to say that I am always comfortable in my own skin. When I am out with my children I dread running into their friends in case the way I look embarrasses them. On my own, however, I can relax. I merge with the background; there but of no particular interest to anyone.
There is still plenty that I wish to achieve in this life but I am now doing it solely for me. It seems that growing older suits me; stopping the clock on my looks would have lost me not just this freedom, but a valuable life lesson. Time travel can be as interesting and educational as exploring new places and cultures.
If all could look young there would be issues with couplings. We respond to looks in choosing a mate. Ageing is there for a reason; without it I believe some would feel deceived.
3) When you think of success, what level of success do you dream of?
I like the idea of being the author of a traditionally published book. As I have yet to write anything that could be submitted for publication this is unlikely to happen. If I did though, I wonder if I would really want success. Of course, I love the idea of being widely read, assuming readers liked my writing that is. I have a pipe dream of seeing my book in a bookshop. Financial independence would be pleasing but to achieve that level of success, which is rare even amongst published authors, there is a cost that I know I would struggle with.
I would dread having to stand up in front of people to promote my book, to give talks or appear in the media. I feel no great need to impress the world, what I would like is to impress my little family. I suspect that they are the least likely to admire anything I could produce. Even if I achieved the perceived success of a best selling author my husband would probably criticise the quality and worth of my writing.
Given the number of people who queue up to audition for televised talent shows there are plenty of people out there who seek even momentary fame. Given the efforts that sports men and women put into improving their rankings there are plenty who crave short term success. Would all of these people be willing to suffer the costs though, the life not lived due to the pressure, intrusion and demands of fame?
I think that I would be happier with a small and quiet success, whatever that word actually means.
I think it’s true that once we reach a certain age, we are working to achieve things for ourselves. That’s liberating! Wouldn’t it be nice to write a best-selling book and not have to go on promotional tours?
It is a dream of mine, but I have still to write any sort of book so I can’t see it happening anytime soon 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.
Oh, this is so deep – love the introspective nature of this post and the thought-provoking questions. I am near middle-age (of course, based on family history, I’m right there now!) I agree that a pressure has been lifted. I’ve always enjoyed lurking at the sidelines, so the invisibility is nice. No matter what I do, my older son is embarrassed by how I look, but that’s his problem (a normal age-related one) not mine. Success… that is such a subjective thing, so hard to measure. My problem with perceived success is that I lack the confidence to feel I can sustain it. Like with writing, when a piece gets recognition, the next one is harder to write because I don’t think I can write something better than what I’ve previously done… it’s like the one ‘good’ piece of writing was a fluke. (Yeah, I have issues to work through there, I know!)
Anyway, sorry to ramble here… your post just sparked so much to think about 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully, ramble away.
I suspect success is transitory and elusive even for those at the top of their game, whose challenge then becomes to stay there. Writing will always be a difficult one to measure. Beyond the basics of spelling, grammar, structure, consistency and readability, how does one define what is good? I love your writing over at the Speakeasy where I see you have had another well deserved win this week. Your stories and poems touch something beautiful inside.
I’m happy that this post got you thinking. I mull over these sorts of questions and welcome another’s thoughts.