Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Won't You Believe You're Beautiful?

I love my wife dearly.  I think she's the most beautiful woman in the world, perhaps the smartest person I've ever met, funny, strong, and flat-out dangerous with a frying pan.  Not that her cooking will hurt you, but like I said she's strong and that skillet is cast iron.  If she hits you with it, you're gonna die.

As much as I admire her for her smarts and accomplishments, I wish she were more forgiving of her own appearance.  In recent years Sweetie has come to realize that she is somewhat face blind.  There isn't any official diagnosis of that and like lots of face blind people she has developed many coping mechanisms that enable her to identify people with accuracy comparable to that of people with unaffected perception so in functional terms it doesn't give her any trouble.  But it makes her, at best, ambivalent about her looks.  It turns out, however, that that may not even be face blindness, at least not in the clinical sense.

It seems that a lot of people are face blind about themselves.  Dove has taken selected glances askance at the way people perceive themselves in the past, women in particular, and has come away with two basic truths: we are generally attractive people, and we don't believe it.  Pointing this last fact up even more clearly than I thought possible, Dove conducted a little study.  It isn't scientifically rigorous but it is certainly suggestive of what deeper research might reveal.

Dove hired a face sketch artist.  Not just any ol' artist like you see at the amusement parks, but an FBI artist.  This is a guy whose stock in trade is creating a useful likeness based on a verbal description.  First he does a sketch based on the description of the person herself, and then he does one based on a description from someone who has recently become acquainted with that same subject.  The results are amazing.  They're like before and after pictures of the person, before vacation and after, before getting good news and after.  It's the same person on the same day, and just shocking in what it points up: we tend to use unattractive language to describe ourselves, unflattering terms.  You can see the two sketches are of the same subject, but the demeanor of the person in the image is very different.

So I finish today's missive with this exhortation: if other people see you so positively, who are you to gainsay that popular opinion?  Be confident, be proud, be joyful.  Life's more fun that way.

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