Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lies about Perfection: the Truth Behind Material Goods & Self Image

Lies We Believe 

For a long time, I believed that being a perfectionist was a really good thing. I believed that aiming for perfect and nothing less was the only way that I could get what I wanted or achieve anything. Society only fueled my beliefs about perfection. We are fed lies every day about how to live and what things "should" be like. I've come to understand that society (advertising, media, social networking, retail stores, movies, TV, etc.) cons us all into three simple lies that fuel the desire for perfection and specifically, the desire for stuff. These lies are... 

If the shoe fits, buy the whole store?
1. More: Society tells us that we always need more. More things: shoes, bags, clothes. More friends (Facebook, anyone?). More aspirations. More food. More fun. There's a constant bombardment of images and advertising that drives us to think that 1) we need more and 2) that more has to be better. 

2. Better: Not only do we need more stuff, we need it to be better. More and better go hand in hand because if we already have one thing, we need the next one to be a better one. Why do you think brand names are so popular? Because we believe the lie that they're better than other brands. Stuff aside, we're told that we need to be better. Better than others. Better people in general. Better than the Jones'. (Image credit)

3. Different: The last lie that we're conned into is believing that different is good and necessary too. What we have - if it's still the same - is not good enough. But different is. You have a lot of stuff? Well, now you need different stuff! This concept is similar to comparisons. Think about it this way. Have you ever opened a magazine and thought "Why doesn't my house look like that? I wish it looked as perfect as it did in this catalog?" (Gee, I think this only every time I open Pottery Barn!) And that magazine is doing it's job of making you think that if only things in your life were different than they are now, you'd be happy. 

The Perfect Perfectionist 

As I was saying, I used to view perfection as good. After all, all these lies tell us that perfection is what we should be aiming for, that perfect is a good thing. Perfection is completely glorified by society. I used to put all these lies into action in my life, and heck, I still do at times. Sometimes I feel as though we are wired to want more, better, and different things. What we have, can it ever be enough? But once I saw the truth behind these lies, I realized how empty perfection really becomes.

Constantly striving for more leaves you empty because, truthfully, when will it be enough? I know some women who would argue that they can "never have enough shoes" (or really, anything. Fill in the blank. Purses, lipstick, sunglasses?). But as with the picture above, when is it enough? Could you ever look at a fantastic shoe closet like that of the picture and think, "It is finished." No, you never really could. You could pretend to be content for a while. But then, you'd see another great pair of shoes and think you need it. There's always more stuff to be had, and as long the lie is believed,  we will desire more.

Body Perfection

These lies are actually only a few of many, many deep rooted lies that we believe every day. Another lie that I personally believed for a long time was that I had to look perfect. What woman doesn't believe this lie? Every magazine or image of women in the media is portraying a perfected version of women. Airbrushed skin, tons of make up, smiling and happy, thin. And then, images of women who are not perfect are highly criticized (Inquirer with cellulite-laden celebs on it ring a bell?) Everything about the modern world screams for women to be thin, done up, and perfect-looking. Every cover of a woman's magazine targets weight, fashion, trends, and fitness. Whether or not you realize how big of an impact media has on body image and this whole perfection nonsense altogether, media drives a huge portion of what we end up believing. I could go on about body image perfection (and, I probably should in another post), but I'll leave it at that for now.

All in all, I've realized that perfection is indeed a double-edged sword. The idea of perfect is inherently good until it becomes a weapon of lies used against us to keep us from being satisfied.

What lies do you feel you're believing in? Is our current world's desires and trends keeping us from being happy?

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