I have acquaintances who obsess about themselves. They spend a lot of time making sure they look beautiful. They stress if they gain a few pounds. They post selfies.
This is all part and parcel of what I consider America’s narcissistic culture.
With the body positivity movement, now we celebrate people who are obese as much as we celebrate those who are skinny. The problem isn’t that we shouldn’t love and accept all shapes and sizes. We should. But… why are we focusing so much on appearance? Why do so many people care what strangers think of them?
Of course the best way to impress strangers is to look good. What else do they have to go on?
They don’t know about someone’s wicked sense of humor or keen intelligence or stunning generosity. They haven’t experienced meaningful experiences together.
So they judge based on the superficial. What ever happened to the deep stuff that makes life meaningful?
My grandmother lived in India, where she raised her children. She took two trains every day to bring them freshly prepared tiffin at lunchtime. These were metal stacked containers that held three items — dal, vegetables, rice, and a small dessert. She took an hour every day to bring them healthy home cooking.
She made sure her children were healthy and happy. She made sure they got a good education.
She also cared for the poor — every day she made extra chapatis so she could give it to the beggars and the stray animals on her street.
She was beautiful to her family no matter what she looked like on the outside because she was so beautiful on the inside. She made everyone who met her feel loved.
As far as her weight and being healthy… Grandmother lived to be 93 years old and walked 2–3 miles a day until the last few months. She was thin when she was younger but after having 7 children, she became fat. So what?
For many older women, having some extra fat is actually healthy as it helps them if they get sick. I’ve talked to oncologists about this, and that padding can help when someone goes through chemo.
If a woman is healthy and has energy, that’s what’s important. Instead of obsessing about looks, maybe we should focus on being healthy and cultivating inner beauty.
If you are healthy regardless of how much you weigh, you will enjoy your life more no matter how old you are. You’ll have the energy to travel, to go for walks, to live independently, and to enjoy a social life.
If you cultivate inner beauty, you will never be lonely.
Your looks may fade but if you people feel loved and cared for in your presence, you will always be beautiful to the people who matter to you.
I am fighting stage IV cancer. If you can help with medical bills, I would really appreciate it. Or if you enjoy my writing and would like to buy me a cup of coffee, that’s great too. Maybe someday I can return the favor.
This post was previously published on Shefali O’Hara’s blog.
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