I once watched a movie in which a man trying to give another man a makeover forced him out of his shoes while they were walking and threw them over a balcony.
I gasped at the scene, not just because of how wildly the man behaved but because the shoes looked exactly like my favorite pair of white New Balance sneakers.
I laughed nervously and cared for about two hours, but then I regrouped. I really like this pair of sneakers. Actually, they aren't ugly to me. They feel so comfortable, and like their name, they keep me feeling balanced and well-supported.
Still, I have been told by a friend that they are so unattractive it's embarrassing. He found a coupon for me to buy some new black Nikes, and though I bought some, I secretly have gone back to wearing my New Balances again here and there because they are like stepping into a sea of comfort.
Sometimes we really do need a makeover, though perhaps not quite so spontaneously as the man in the movie. Physical appearance carries so much weight in our society that a new word, "lookism," has been created to describe it.
Lookism describes the fact that often those who fit best into a culture's picture of beauty get perks that those deemed less attractive do not. They tend to date more, make more money, get hired more quickly and be seen as more competent and goodhearted.
The fact is that we all sport unique appearances that are beautiful in our own ways. Staying attractive enough to keep a confident bounce in one's step and win the approval of those who actually matter must be balanced with not making this the most important factor in life.
Who are those who matter? The person interviewing you for a job or entrance into a program, the date you're sitting across from that you'd like to get to know better and, most of all, the person staring back at you from the mirror.
However, much like my resistance to giving up my sneakers, sometimes we resist updating and refreshing our appearance. Changing something about our looks, whether it be our clothing, hair, nails, weight or makeup strategy, can sometimes give us a new lease on life.
I love the makeover shows that feature women or men who feel stuck in a rut until someone unlocks the hidden beauty within them. Suddenly they want to pursue their dreams or spend more time with their family and friends. It seems to change their outlook on life profoundly.
That's when you know you really did need a makeover. And once you have it, the key then is to enjoy your beauty without feeling the need to do more and more, ad nauseum, or become anxious and self-critical about yourself.
Makeovers are about feeling empowered, glamorous, stylish, self-assured and excited about possibilities. They're about knowing that you matter, and putting your best foot forward.
And for me, it's about leaving my white sneakers around as a fallback for comfort but sporting fun shoes when the mood hits me as well. It's changing my hair every time the wind blows and finding a fun article of clothing to celebrate each change of season.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc, is a local therapist and freelance writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.
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