12 August 2008

Get Real

What has the world come to when a little girl is told she is not cute enough for her country? Her voice might belong to an angel, but her face... Seriously? What a low moment. Now, granted, China isn't really known for its kindness (hello, Tibet) or its diplomacy (hello, Sudan), but isn't there something about honor in their culture? It seems that can be faked, too.

Everything is fake these days, from our teeth to our tits to memoirs and even clips on flipping YouTube. Life is CGI'd on green screen, altered by PhotoShop and spun by the press. Our way of living is in the hands of lobbyists. Nothing is real anymore. Not even the little girl singing on TV.

The news of this fakery (and, yes, I'm not using real words in this post) stopped me in my tracks this morning. It struck a nerve. Is this really what the world has come to: Perfection above all else? It makes me sad. It pisses me off. It makes a bit of sense. I mean, isn't this striving for perfection, or the illusion thereof, what's causing so much misery in the world?

It really got me wondering about why we focus so much on the outside and not the within. It's silly. Like building a castle on a faulty foundation. What's the point? It will only crack and crumble into a useless pile of naught. Yet, we seem to put our attention on polishing a facade than making sure what's underneath is in working order.

Take a look at the subprime situation. People scrambled to buy homes they couldn't afford and why? For appearances? For a deal? For a chance to say, "Look what I have!"? Sure, there is a value to owning real estate, pride in owning your home, making a wise investment for one's future. But it's moronical (fake word, but should be real) thinking to assume you have any of that if you're only paying interest without accruing equity. And look at the fall out from it. Who could have imagined how bad this would have turned out? It's very sad. It's also basic math. But we want what we want and we don't bother with what the true price might be as long as it looks good on the outside.

I carry the debt of my mistakes as well as my education. It seems no one can get through college these days without grants, loans, scholarships, or a cushion from mom and dad. If you were to work your way through college today, it would likely take you a decade or more to do so. Going into debt is the quickest way out. In my grandfather's day, debt was a disgrace. An embarrassment. Something you worked hard and went without to pay off because it wasn't really yours if you didn't own it outright. Now, debt is par for the course. A rite of passage almost. Something we lug around our entire lives. I've got nothing fabulous to show for all that red, except my three-letter degree. Credit cards were merely microloans to fill the gap between what I was paid and what life really costs. To keep me afloat while I waited for clients to come, or to pay, or for their checks to finally clear. It was what it took for me to get by, but I'm sure that's not how it looks on paper. It simply diminishes my "real" value to a bank or an employer. It says nothing of the real me.

People starve themselves to reach their form of perfection, or overeat to fill an endless hole. Overspend to make themselves feel better. Cut themselves to see if they feel at all. Take something to numb or calm or correct. But the core goes ignored. Why do the work if a prescription can make it all better? Does it though?

I wonder what would happen if we all just stopped and got real for a second. Do an interior inspection, audit our insides. What if, just for a day or a week or a minute, we all really liked ourselves just as we are? I wonder how the world would look. I know, I know. That's a little too California for you. It's a Tuesday. I tend to get philosophical on Tuesdays. Indulge me.

It just seems that so many of us would rather look good than do good or feel good. Keeping up appearances and all. Fake it 'til you make it. Chin up and best foot forward, because you only have a single chance to make a good impression.

Don't get me wrong. I clean my house before company comes. I spackle my spots and conceal my imperfections. Add blush where a natural rosy glow should be, if I had time to get proper sleep and nutrition...or the dough for a really good facial. I use deodorant and shave. Use creams that slow time. There are ways to make improvements that can be of benefit ourselves (and others), but they don't have to get in the way of being who we really are.

Some of you might be too young to remember (or, gasp, weren't even born yet), but look back to the 70s. Take a gander at the people in the films or on the musical stage. The hair, the clothes, the teeth, the boobs. Very few would have careers today. Not without a whole lot of "work". I think that's very telling of how far we haven't come. We've sort of lost sight of that simplicity, of that beauty, and perhaps we've misplaced some of our humanity, too.

A little seven year-old girl was told she was not cute enough to appear on television. Yet, her photo tells another story. I wonder what that will do to her insides after all of this is done. Will she carry that with her instead the honor given to her voice? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I doubt we will ever get the real story, though.

1 comment:

SabineM said...

The whole thing is just sad....but doesn't surprise me from the Chinese. They are very much into "looks"! When we adopted our daughter Maya, we had to do a Medical check, in China, for the US gvt. The Chinese doctors made a HUGE deal about a little birth mark on Maya's tummy. You would have thought she had a tumor there.. they asked us repeatedly if we still wanted her! HAAAA
I had no idea you had a blog.. nice writing... I am horrible at writing...always hard to concentrate with a 3 year old hanging all over you asking you ten thousand questions and telling you tons of stories...like right now! Haaa again! ;))