If someone were to ask you the question ‘what is your type’, in a relationship sense, what would be the first five things that come to mind?
[Write them down]
How much of what you thought of were physical aspects?
Do you believe that physical attributes play a part in physical attraction? All of you I’m sure, said yes. No doubt there is scientific evidence to support this.
But let’s delve deeper into physical attraction itself and what it is exactly that we are attracted to.
Our ideals of beauty are largely dictated by the media industry in which we are both consciously and subconsciously bombarded with on a daily basis. We all know this. But what you may not know is just how powerful the effect is.
Model: Natalia Held
Makeup: Grace Commisso
Here are some facts about the brain and issues surrounding the world we live in:
1. The subconscious mind is more powerful than your conscious mind and is responsible for forming the pattens that outline your thoughts and behaviour. Therefore, the subliminal messages of perfectly photoshopped imagery, for example, enter the subconscious more rapidly (often without you even being aware) and play a massive role in how we perceive beauty, ourselves and others. They can form negative barriers in our minds based on the repetition of exposure that prohibit us from functioning at our optimal state and affect us in various aspects of our life: work, relationships, health and consciousness. Since we are driven by our emotions (our primate fight or flight responses) and the amygdala (the brain’s control centre) is largely responsible for our thoughts and actions, the above effect means that we can be constantly living out of fear which puts us in a state of dissonance. Our brain then in that state would continually aim to protect itself by being in ‘defence mode’, even to the point of distorting reality to preserve our ideals of what we think is real (cognitive dissonance).
2. Our ideals of beauty have changed over time, but the common denominators are an unhealthy fixation on our physical shell in order to drive consumerism. So no matter what the ideal body shape is at any point in time you will either be pushed to eat more, eat less, buy supplements, get botox, buy that item of clothing, whiten your teeth, get eyelash extensions, get butt fillers, get breast implants, remove your implants; because that’s how we perceive being beautiful and attracting a mate. It’s all external.
3. The illusion of reality - this is perhaps the biggest factor. I am a photographer myself so I know exactly how much a photograph can and does get distorted. The obvious issues surrounding this is we are consciously and subconsciously comparing ourselves to something that does not even exist!
4. Here is a not so obvious one. The focus on our external shell which is evident in every form that exists around us keeps the majority of us trapped on a secular, material plane, therefore exacerbating the ego, driving consumerism (a man-made concept), suppressing the desire to even think about or question bigger topics such as our existence and the existence of other life forms or reality in itself. It keeps us vibrating at a low level so that we are less likely to explore or push for higher states of consciousness, which means that we are much more easily controlled because we are forever seeking an unattainable version of reality rather than pushing boundaries and experiencing various types of reality and existence. It also prevents us from questioning how many senses we actually have and experiencing these senses and realising our own internal to external power, and thus the power that we possess to make change.
Here is an interesting question; how much do you think our attraction to physical attributes has to do with our ego vs our underlying natural instincts, AND; If we didn’t live in a world driven by a filtered reality and consumerism (and so heavily focused on one’s physical shell) do you think you would be attracted to the same things?
It would seem preposterous if I said that someone was driven to get implants in their ears - but - since our ideals of beauty are learned behaviours what if we learned that big ears were really sexy and were bombarded by images of women (and men) with massive ears? Do you see my point?
So the message here is clear. I have struggled with body image issues in the past - add depression to the mix which heavily affected my cognitive ability and in particular made my internal dialogue so destructive that like so many others I did not love or accept myself. I was seeking externally, comparing myself to others, and taking drastic measures to either destroy or attain a self-perceived version of perfection that does not exist. I ate too much, didn’t eat enough, stopped eating completely, threw up my food, overtrained, undertrained, you get the picture. So whatever it is that you are going through chances are I, or someone close to you, has been through it too (even if their destructive patterns in behaviour are different to yours). The underlying thought patterns and behaviours would be quite the same.
Here are some words of wisdom. Whilst you cannot control exactly what agenda and ideals of beauty the media is pushing in every available avenue - you CAN control the information and energy that you take in (to a point). So if this means switching off your television, NOT buying certain magazines, not listening to advertising, wearing your headphones when you’re out, not following Instagram and Facebook accounts of people who photoshop their bodies or have an unhealthy fixation on body image, etc (you get the idea), then DO IT! Because the information you take in on a daily basis has a massive effect on your thought patterns and subsequent behaviours.
Start to replace those behaviours with:
· Reading, learning, writing, reflecting
· Surrounding yourself with good energy
· Creating art
· Focusing on your internal health (mental and physical)
· Exercising to feel good rather than just for aesthetics
· Eating well to feel good rather than for "dieting"
· Being in nature
· Connecting with people and animals
· Spending quality time alone to find yourself and figure out who you are
· Talking to wise friends or professionals who can help you overcome your own self-taught barriers
The sooner you stop living your life self-confined by your ego the sooner you will free yourself from the mental and physical exhaustion, limiting capacity and self-destructive thoughts and behaviours (and relationships) that come with it. You could then focus on unlearning and relearning about yourself, and about the world around you from an unbiased perspective, focus on building yourself from the inside out and more importantly finding that incredible, beautiful person that is within you.
Words and image by Tina Nikolovski