We tell ourselves that in our book looks don’t matter, that to us it is what is on the inside of people that counts most. We tell ourselves so often that we believe that this is how we live our lives – being totally un-biased, non-judgemental, always looking below the surface and seeing through the stereotypes to appreciate the soul beyond the skin – but is it really true?
Even within ourselves, within our own bodies, how often do we judge our self-worth to be dependent all too often on our external appearance? If I look good, I tell myself, I’ll feel good. But what does it say about me, deep down, when the thought of being seen in public without visibly clean skin, clean hair, clean clothes fills me with such concern?
My internalised notions of public presentation judge any failure in myself to reach a certain exterior standard to be an indication of an interior lack. I don’t like that I think that way about myself, and possibly by extension how I sub-consciously think about others, but I find that old habits die hard. I still seriously struggle with the idea of popping out to the local shop for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread in scruffy old clothes and unwashed hair.
How polished I look on the outside matters to me as much as anything because a lifetime of experiencing recurring depressive episodes has left me with the marker of consistent and continued self-care having become a particular tipping point on my personal barometer between coping, and not coping, with life. As long as I can succeed in hiding my internal angst behind a facade of external acceptability, I feel I must be doing ok.
But underneath it all, I do understand that ideally I need to feel confident on the inside no matter how I may look on the outside at any given time, and sadly for me, it seems that particular yardstick is most definitely still very much a work in progress…