Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's all about image

I was watching a very interesting show about China the other evening on Discovery HD Atlas. This three-hour program covered all aspects of life in this vast country of over 3 billion people. China is a country that spans a large portion of this world of ours and is as diversified as there are grains of sands on a beach.

One of the things that amazed me about these people is that they are all hard-working, driven, slim people. Their society does not tolerate being different or the use of drugs (death to drug dealers). The people exercise en masse and pictures of their performing their karate, tai chi, and other exercises reminded me of ants. Because of their ambition to be the best in the world, we have accommodated them by exporting all our factories and goods to them (while we put our people out of work). In fact, we have borrowed money from the Chinese to perpetuate the war in Iraq.

The thing that impressed me most, however, was the lack of good dental hygiene by the general population.

It seems our image of being perfect in every way has not impacted these people yet. They stress eating well, exercising a great deal, and living a long, healthy life. This does not, however, extend to taking care of their teeth. Everyone shown in the program had teeth like this.

Here in America, however, we value this look and spend countless millions of dollars, time, pain, and energy to achieve it. (I personally feel humiliated because as I was growing up my family was too poor to afford the $500.00 it would have cost to put braces on my teeth.) Have you tried all the whitening agents available today to have your pearly whites looking like this? Again, countless millions of dollars, time, pain, and energy have been expended so our mouths could be model perfect.

The other thing I noticed was how the Chinese perceive themselves. Most Chinese have been lured by the temptation of riches and everything that is associated with wealth. They are importing smart Americans to design everything from high-end shopping malls to fancy buildings so their rich and elite can live the cosmopolitan life. (The average Chinese cannot afford to purchase a beer at most of these eating establishments.) The way the Chinese attempt to homogenize themselves is by getting plastic surgery, especially to westernize their eyes.

This before and after shot emphasizes what the Chinese (and the Japanese for that matter) are willing to do to their bodies to achieve a more western persona.

This is the image they are trying to attain.

And this.
I have come to the conclusion that the American version of happiness is based on image and how we perceive ourselves. Our ideals are dictated by advertising agencies, the media, the film and modeling industry, clothing manufacturers (who in this world can fit into a size 0?), and the diet gurus (look at me, I ate Fadish Systems' Empty Calories and lost 400 pounds, and everybody thinks I'm sexy).

For your information, Americans are the fattest people on earth and other westernized (fast food eating) countries are trying hard to catch up.

Do we value ourselves more if we look like this model or Barbie? Do most of us go through life worrying about those extra pounds, a few wrinkles, or some grey hair?

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn if I'm carrying a few extra pounds, I have wrinkles, and have lots of grey hair. No, I will not color my hair and, no, I will not get plastic surgery to make myself look like Cher. My aim in life is to be happy and to make those around me happy. Can you say the same?

So what if my teeth are a little crooked and are not as white as a model's. I guess that's what the average Chinese also says. Unless . . . they probably would go for orthodontia if they could afford it. Then they could look like the rest of those westerners who pride themselves on having a Barbie persona -- empty-headed but looking good.


At October 10, 2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

Astute observations here. I must say, however, that I do have to keep the few extra pounds off as, being a diabetic, it's all that keeps me off insulin right now. Practiced good dental hygiene as one message my grandfather preached is that you don't want to have false teeth if you can avoid it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. We did stay at the Opryland Hotel there and agree 100 percent with your opinion of it. Seems more for the convention crowd, IMO.

We did enjoy the Grand Ole Opry, and probably will go back. I'll probably write about the Opry in one of my upcoming blogs (next week) if you want to check back.

At October 10, 2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Motherkitty said...

Welcome, big date t. Thanks for the comments.

At October 10, 2006 12:57 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I think you are right on target with this post. So many people are concerned with outside appearances and much less concerned with how they treat those around them.
I must admit, Bill and I do try to exercise and eat healthy, but I am no "Barbie" and well, you know how I feel about coloring my hair. What you see is what you get!
Great post!!

At October 10, 2006 4:07 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

You know, I *know* that external appearances are not important, yet I am so indoctrinated by our society's obsession with appearance that I struggle to accept my physical flaws, and I struggle with my own ageing. It is good for me to read your wise words, Motherkitty. I will try to heed them!

At October 10, 2006 8:07 PM, Blogger Alissa said...

You know, I *so* know better, and yet I struggle with my self-image every day. I'm a size 12, which if I'm correct in my thinking is smaller than the average american woman (sz 14 is average, i think). But I would kill to be an 8, and would even settle for a 10. I look at magazines and even though I'm aware that it's fake, that it's unrealistic, that the women who truly do look like that are typically very unhealthy, I still want to look like them. I work out 4-5 days a week. I do sit-ups in the evenings. I try to eat right, although I refuse to starve myself. But once (in college) I actually tried to make myself throw up thinking bulemia would be better than being fat. Fortunately for me I was unsuccessful.

It's sad, really, what our society has done to it's women.

But I have great teeth. Not one cavity. Ever.

At October 10, 2006 11:13 PM, Blogger PEA said...

I've always said I will grow old gracefully and if I'm a little overweight, then there's more of me to love:-) I think too many of today's society worries about their looks more than anything else...I'm just glad to be alive and healthy!!!

At October 11, 2006 5:58 AM, Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

No one needs to be a size 0, but nothing is wrong with a size 12. Most of my adult life I was an 8 until I reached 55 and started gaining weight.

As you said in your post Americans are fat and we do need to do something about that. It's not healthy. We are becomming a nation of early diabetics starting in adolescence. I could stand to lose about 80 lbs. myself. Nutrition & excercise in America has gone down hill and we do need to strive for a healthy weight.

At October 11, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger T. said...

As the mother to a child who would never fit in with modern western civilization's idea of beauty, I have struggled with this concept for the past six years.

Now that Bug has gone, I find that I examine and struggle with it still. And I am lucky. I have straight, white teeth and have an acceptable figure according to what our media culture dictates is acceptable.

It just breaks my heart that so much of our value and self worth is placed on our appearances.

I strive to teach my children this is not right.

But then I also tell them not to mistake good grooming habits with vanity.

I don't want no smelly children with bad teeth.


At October 11, 2006 11:00 PM, Blogger TUFFENUF said...

You would think the Chinese would fix their teeth because their breath must be really bad! Thanks for all the interesting facts that you researched for us, I used a lot of laugh muscles. That takes care of my exercise for the day!

At October 13, 2006 8:44 AM, Blogger Franny said...

The chinese have a very old and rich culture...I hope they are not trying emulate other cultures simply because of the mass media.

At October 13, 2006 11:52 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

Loved this post, very thought provoking!!

At October 13, 2006 1:41 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Man oh man, this post says it all motherkitty...My feelings exactly! I linked it today.


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