Have you ever thought just how artificial our world really is? When we look around, it is sometimes difficult to see anything we could actually call real. We have a tendency to create an artificial world.
We often eradicate most of Nature to build artificial cities. We build artificial pools to swim in, laden with so many chemicals that no other living creature wants to swim in it. When collecting resources (from Nature) to build our stuff, we often strip the land bare and poison it so nothing can grow on it for decades to come.
What I’m concerned most about in this article is how we use our bodies to contribute to the artificial world we’re creating. How do we do this and is there be a better way?
One of the first things I think about when considering our artificial world is makeup. I’m constantly surprised by the average woman’s need to always wear makeup when in public. Even men are starting to wear makeup now. Some people would “die” if they had to go outside without their makeup. They think it makes them look pretty or maybe only “acceptable”, with the implication that they really are not pretty and not acceptable without makeup. Doesn’t this mean that it’s the makeup that’s acceptable, not them? I find this sad. I usually like to see the people without makeup and I find they look better that way.
When I see someone with makeup, especially heavy, obvious makeup, I wonder what I’m looking at. I actually can’t see the person. All I can see is the makeup. There must be a person behind that makeup, that’s causing the makeup to be animate, but all I can actually see is makeup. Ok, I can see their eyeballs (unless they are wearing coloured contact lenses) and sometimes not much more than that.
Thinking about it now, maybe this is why we find looking into somebodies eyes is so important. Maybe it’s one of the few glimpses we get of the real person which offers us a better connection with them.
Hair Dye & Extensions
You might think that we get to see the persons real hair, but how often does it appear as it really is? Most women (and some men now) have dyed their hair in all sorts of colours and combinations. Often the practice of dying hair is used simply to cover up any greys. Why is it that our society expects almost everyone to cover up grey hairs as soon as they get them? Everyone knows that we all get grey hairs. Everyone knows that everyone is covering up their greys by dying their hair. It’s such a weird situation. An artificial world again.
And then there are hair extensions and wigs. Effectively, people are saying “I don’t like my hair the way it is, so I’m going to make it look like something else”. People aren’t happy with the way they are (of course, this is understandable for people with medical conditions that dramatically affect their hair).
As a result of our artificial world, when we see somebody from the shoulders up, we see very little of who the real person. We see mostly makeup and artificial hair.
Body shaping underwear
Almost everyone has something about their body that they don’t like and it’s common to use body shaping underwear to adjust their appearance.
In the old days, and still used to some degree today, corsets were used to hold fat in and make the appearance of a good figure. Who ever defined what a good figure is anyway? I guess it comes from the fact that most people have a thin waist when they’re young and begin to thicken out when they’re older, so creating the illusion of a thin waist is an attempt to keep a youthful appearance.
Today, stockings and tights are commonly used by women. Stockings are really just to make the legs look more perfect, hiding any blemishes that might be there for whatever reason (ok, in cold weather they can be for warmth). Tights can be used to squeeze in the little bit of fat around the belly or the buttocks, again with the intention of improving the apparent figure of the person. We can go a little further than underwear here because many people have some favourite jeans (possibly called their “fat jeans”) that do a good job of holding in fat and creating a preferred silhouette.
Another thing I’ll include in body shaping underwear is the bra. Our current society seems to have some weird hangups and expectations when it comes to female breasts. Many women don’t seem to like the shape of their natural breasts and are only comfortable when they adjust the shape of them using a bra, or increase the apparent size of them by padding a bra. Also, it is considered that seeing bumps caused by the nipples on the breast is unsightly and to be avoided. For this reason too, women will wear bras to make sure that the nipples are not seen. This is another weird situation in our artificial world – everyone knows all breasts have nipples, nothing could be more normal, even men have nipples, and everyone knows that women normally wear bras and don’t want any evidence of nipples to be seen. So, with the use of a bra, women adjust their appearance into something they think is more socially acceptable and beautiful.
With body shaping underwear, people try to hide bits of their body that they don’t like and improve the appearance of other parts of their body, hence adding to the artificial world that we commonly see in front of us.
The increasing use of cosmetic surgery obviously adds to our artificial world. People use implants and fillers of all types to change their appearance. Doesn’t this just devalue the importance of appearance? Effectively, anybody could like like anything, as long as they’ve had the right surgery. In the extreme, a person’s appearance becomes only a testimony to their cosmetic surgery choices.
Clothes in general
Especially in cooler weather, clothing covers a large percent of our bodies, and this clothing is generally not neutral. We choose our clothing to present who we’d like to be or the role we are playing. You all know this is true. Apart from the common habit of dressing in different ways to reach a certain “look”, we have people that are priests, nuns, firemen, policemen, office workers, labourers, government officials, judges, doctors, etc., and we can all tell them apart by the clothes they are wearing.
So when we look at a person we see mostly clothes, and it’s the clothes that define who they are to us. What an artificial world? We look at a person, see clothes, makeup and modified hair and then classify them in a certain box. We’re not seeing the real person, we’re seeing how they’ve modified their bodies appearance and judging that.
The way we act
On top of the static physical appearance that we try to modify and portray, we also control the way we move, our body language, and the way we talk. Our mannerisms and ways of moving can mean many things.
One clear example of this is the way members of gangs walk and talk. They have a certain way of wearing their clothes, a certain way of walking, a certain way of using their hands and making signs with their hands and a certain way of talking. This is all on top of wearing their typical clothes, caps, hairstyles and jewellery.
A non-artificial world?
In a non-artificial world (the real world?) we’d all accept the way we are. We’d accept our bodies, and everyone else’s body, for what they are – just bodies. The body has no link with the real person which is behind and much deeper than the body. We’d realise that trying to change our appearance and pretend to be a “certain type” of person has no real value. That doesn’t change who we are, it puts a veneer over the real us.
Bodies and appearances have no intrinsic value. The real person is contained in their thoughts, desires and wishes. This is where we should really be connecting with people.
Imagine the difference. In today’s artificial world we meet someone new and we analyse their clothes, the shape of their body, the quality of their makeup, the way they walk and talk and we classify them immediately as someone to be friends with or not. In a true, non-artificial world, we’d ignore their appearance completely and communicate with them to discover their thoughts, desires and wishes. In such a world we’d be friends with everyone because we’d quickly learn that everyone’s thoughts, desires and wishes are similar to ours in all ways that matter. We’d learn that everyone has love, peace and joy available inside them and we’d connect with that naturally.
For a moment, imagine the president of major Western country meeting the Pope. I’m sure you can visualise immediately what the two people would look like, what they are wearing, how they act and how the meeting plays out. Now imagine the same two people meeting alone along a path in a forest not wearing any clothes, jewellery or makeup. Now we just see two ordinary people meeting and I’m sure their discussion would be quite different too. This thought experiment is a good way to recognise the artificial world we have created and in which we live.
Here I’m asking you, and challenging myself, to look beyond the artificial world we have created. The artificial world is meaningless. We have to see all people for what they really are, and that is carriers of the perfection that is in all of us. No person on Earth is better or worse than any other when it gets down to the important things. Everyone carries the capacity for love, peace and joy and that is where we all connect in the purest way.
Related Links – Our Artificial World
- This link takes you to a page from the San Francisco Globe showing examples of women with and without makeup. It clearly shows how artificial we can make ourselves look with makeup.
- Don’t believe in body shaping underwear? Follow this link to see that department stores even have ranges called “Shapewear” these days.
- There’s no need for women to hide their nipples behind padded bras – by Jessica Valenti