On Beauty

Magazines, movies, media, all of these have something in common. Yes, they all start with M’s, but also, they all display images of beauty. These images are forced onto our society through the idolized star system, and the only way to avoid them is to avoid pop culture entirely. In modern times more and more people look up to celebrities so much that they try to mimic them, their clothing, their hair styles, and their bodies. For several decades now society has been made very aware of the distorted body images of women in media and the way that it negatively impacts our society and young females. Eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia have become more prevalent in young adults trying to attain an unrealistic standard of beauty created by the media. Everyone knows it is a problem for females, but what about men?

Like women, men are portrayed with an unrealistic standard of beauty in the media. Men in magazines are shown with perfectly toned muscles, bulging six pack abdominals, chiseled chins, and perfectly gelled hair. Magazines and television push the aggressive, strong, male stereotype and men in society feel the pressure to keep up with it, but for some reason it is rarely acknowledged as being a problem. While some of the flak generated by this issue is certainly less obvious in men than it is in women, there are still a lot of apparent negative side effects on the male population because of this forced, unrealistic, distortion of masculinity.

From first-hand accounts, I’ve witnessed self-esteem be a huge problem for men. They think that if they aren’t toned and chiseled then they aren’t good enough, especially for prospective partners. These self-esteem issues can translate into overly-aggressive compensation tactics, physically detrimental work out patterns, and even depression. Men try to reach the standard of models by pumping their bodies full of expensive protein powder and hitting the gym so much that it could be considered an addiction in some cases. From my experience, a lot of this stems from a desire to be considered sexually attractive. Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret, the brain is the most erotic muscle in the body. I don’t have a six pack, I probably can’t lift more than fifty pounds (and even that leaves me winded), I can’t fight, and my cheeks are chubby, but I’m still beautiful and so are you. I believe that for every human being there is a perfect combination of words for every scenario, and in order to make friends or fall in love or get laid, you don’t need to look like the statue of Adonis, you just need to say the words that they’ve been dying to hear.

On the Power of Words

I was recently shocked by a conversation I had about the misconceptions that we build around certain words. In this conversation I was asked what came to mind when I thought about the word ‘Feminism.’ I associated the word with the extreme negatives without even realizing it. When I thought about feminism, I thought about movies scenes of radical activists without even having a clear definition of what the word actually meant. The definition of feminism is, “Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Nowhere in the definition does it even mention women, it is simply equal rights for everyone. So where did we get so muddled in our associations with these words? And how come we look at the negative end of things instead of the positive.

For example, most people know what the word misogyny means, but most people don’t know what the word phylogeny means. Misogyny is defined as the hatred of women, while its antonym, phylogeny, is defined as the love of women. And the same goes for men with misandry and philandry. Why is it common to know the word for hatred and not the word for love? Our society tends to look towards this side the spectrum in a lot of examples just like this one.

I don’t know the answer to why we think this way, but I do know two things. One, I have learned to try to be sure you know what something truly means before you jump so quickly to misjudge it. And two, the only way that we’re going to shift the way that we all think, and start working towards the greener side of the pasture, is to share these positive ideals, and remind people that there’s still a good side for everything.

On Unconditional Positive Regard

The psychologist Carl Rogers coined a term called “Unconditional Positive Regard.” This concept is defined as complete and total acceptance of a person, regardless of what that person says or does. To Rogers it was considered the key component to reaching self-actualization, which is the highest attainable point on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In other words, the easiest way to reach a point of full potential in life is to be surrounded by the unwavering support of others who have infinite acceptance for you.

I think the most common places that we look for this support is from our parents, close family members, and significant others. All my life I’ve had this kind of acceptance from everyone in my family, especially my mother. Knowing that I had that unconditional love from others affected my confidence in many positive ways as I was growing up. I could try anything without the fear of failing because I understood that regardless of what happened I could go home and I’d be safe and my mother would still love me all the same. Whenever things got tough she used to tell me, “You’ll always have a home to come back to and it will always be a safe and loving one.” In addition to this, and countless other ways that I was bettered by having her as a parent, it also taught me how to give unconditional positive regard to others, and the importance of doing so. I think that people sometimes forget to look for it in their friends, and I believe that they also forget that you have to give it in order to receive it.

Men get a bad rap on a lot of fronts, but one place that we flourish is in our friendships. I see a lot of fierce loyalty in male friendships, and perhaps without even noticing it, I see men offering each other unconditional positive regard all of the time. It happens in all sorts of ways that we don’t even catch onto, and a lot of the time when we’re feeling down or worried about failing, we forget that that support system is present and available to us. Maybe it just takes a little bit of reminding. If you say it out loud to one of your close friends, just take them aside and remind them that no matter what they’re always going to be your best bud, I’d be willing to bet they say it right back to you. And if everyone took just a few minutes out of their day to say that to one person they really care about, then I think the world would be a significantly brighter place.

Chef Tony’s Dip Pick of the Hour

Hot Bacon Blue Cheese Dip

 

You’ll need:

6 slices of lean smoked bacon

1 small onion, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup lager beer

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cayenne pepper to taste

1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled

 

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet, add the onion, and stir for 3 minutes. Add the flour and stir 3 minutes longer. Whisking, add the milk and beer, then add the Worcestershire and the cayenne. Bring the mixture to a low boil, whisking, cook for 2 minutes, and remove from the heat. Add the bacon and blue cheese and stir till the cheese is melted.

Transfer the dip to a small bowl, and enjoy with your favorite dipping snack.

(makes about 1 and 3/4 cups)