Facing the world

How’s your face? How much do you take your face for granted? Are you beautiful; plain; ugly; possess inner beauty that radiates out; all of the above?

It’s interesting how much we take appearances for granted and make superficial judgements based on our face and the faces of everyone else we meet.

Consider the female US politician who was very attractive and had a high profile job where her face was seen often by many and then had her face destroyed by some crazy gunman. How did she cope with that? What an awful thing to have to endure and yet she has courageously moved forward, recently having some amazing facial reconstruction. (This was in the news recently and yet I can’t seem to find any information online about this. I haven’t done extensive searching at this point though.)

Consider women of Muslim faith that wear the hijab. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it must be like to cover your face to the world. What does this do to your sense of identity, your confidence, your ability to relate to others in the “modern” world?

And then consider popular culture that has enormous emphasis on “look”? It reeks of “lookism”. The ostracism that occurs every day because you might not have the “right” look is accepted by large portions of our society. The main culprits of this in my opinion are fashion, celebrity, and the media.

How must the current Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, feel being tormented every single day for her red hair? She has amazing red hair (colour enhanced perhaps) and striking fair skin and yet she is ridiculed for those unique characteristics, while trying to do her job conscientiously, sensibly and with maturity. Where is the maturity of those who ridicule her like they are still in the schoolyard?

As a typical Aussie who loves the outdoors and spent years playing outside in the sun during my child and teenage years – playing tennis without a hat, water-skiing all summer, and more, the fair freckled skin I inherited from my English and Scottish heritage, is now suffering from sun damage. I wonder how much the hole in the ozone layer contributed to this. Perhaps this problem being experienced now by many of a certain age and demographic won’t be seen in such epidemic proportions in future years because the hole in the ozone layer has decreased in size – for now.

Recently I had the Efudex treatmenton my face to try and kill the potential SCC cells that are underneath my skin. This condition is named Bowen’s Disease. I have had SCC’s cut out in recent years and so this treatment will hopefully reduce the occurrence of the SCC’s developing.

That’s all well and good in a practical medical sense, but it was interesting to experience the profound shift when presenting this awful face to the world. Our face is our window. Whilst we might be able to cover other imperfections or problems elsewhere, short of wearing a hajib, our face is our communication interface. Apart from the discomfort I felt from the treatment and the effects, I didn’t see my own face whilst moving about at work and in town. But I could see the faces of others as they looked at me. Often I would explain with some degree of embarrassment. Around town I would lower my face, the peak of the cap shielding me. But how many times can you do that in a day? I couldn’t hide away at home for 6 weeks. I had to go to work. I wasn’t sick after-all and I had work to do.

Having never been considered a beauty by myself or anyone else, the impact is perhaps not felt as keenly by my ego as that of someone who might have traded on their beauty for most of their life. But it certainly makes you very aware of how much unconscious emphasis we place on people’s looks.

Think about some well-known people who have astonishing faces and yet would not be considered “beautiful”. I love Einstein’s face or is it his brain I admire? Think about people you know whose spirit and soul shine and you don’t even think twice about how they might look. Think about those funny looking Tibetan Monkswho smile and smile and smile.

I am still healing from my treatment and enjoying a day at home. I can’t blame others from being sick of the sight of me. I am so sick of my own face right now. I can only hope the treatment works. But my thoughts go to others who have far worse to endure than I, people who are judged harshly on their nature-given looks, who try to change their looks through damaging and unnecessary plastic surgery, who suffer from rascism, feminism, ageism, lookism.

Through meditation I endeavour to heal my body and soul, and engage my spirit, so that I might be freed from the tyranny of “lookism” and relate to all people as one soul to another, connected in our humanness as Earthlings. I know how lame that sounds but I will try anyway. Will you?

I am listening to Rrakala by Gurrumul, Tabula Rasa by Arvo Part, and reading NOVA magazine, Australian Country Style magazine, vegan recipe books, and re-reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra.

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