THE THINGS WE HIDE
” If you’re able to see your ‘forbidden land’ without having to lean forward or heave that blubber curtain to one side then you’re safe; you’re not a BIG FAT pig…People fear the truth because it’s more than often perceived as cruel or unkind”
Uh oh, it’s that time of year again, you know, the time when, statistically, you’re supposed to be feeling the gloomiest.
What do you mean you don’t know about it? Sure you do. Scientists have even come up with the formula. You can read about it in my previous post but the formula goes something like this: the distance of time since the joy of Christmas (and the time off) + short cold and miserable days + the fact that you’re feeling broke (perhaps because of Christmas), the thought of it being a new year and you’re stuck in the same job… Add to those the fact that this year the government has, albeit with bad timing, just announced the latest statistical figures showing that Britain’s economy went absolutely nowhere in 2012; in fact it shrank by a 0.3%. And then there are those pesky New Year resolutions compelling you to do those things for which you have neither the time nor the inclination, including wrestling with ‘that diet’ which is failing to keep up its end of the bargain to deliver a whole wonderful and shiny ‘new you’.
So what’s wrong with the old me, apart from a few extra pounds, a comfort food addiction and an attitude?
What do you mean you’re not on a diet? Everybody is on a diet in January. Perhaps not as many as in February and subsequent months but January is a must for everyone, darling, as we all aspire to that ‘slinky’ I-can-wear-anything-anywhere look (generally down the high street as opposed to the fantasy island in our head).
Ok, well I’m on a diet. I have an event coming up soon and I need to get into my tux and I just know it isn’t going to happen with a belly that looks like I’ve just swallowed a baby seal as well as the over all winter blubber that I’ve accumulated over Christmas, okay maybe a bit longer than that, last autumn, oh alright last summer…whatever.
The point being that I decided to put myself on a diet because it was ‘time for a change’ and I want to discover the proverbial ‘new me’, you know, the one that diet clubs and supermarkets keep talking about, generally just after Christmas and always in time for the new year resolutions, and it’s absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the buttons keep pinging off my shirt like fleas off a dog or the fact that, no matter how hard I try, however subtly I try not to lean forward, I keep failing that damn ‘genitalia test’!
What, you haven’t heard of the genitalia test?
Sure you have but just in case you haven’t: the test involves standing up straight and then looking directly down your chest, belly and navel. If you’re able to see your ‘forbidden land’ without having to lean forward or heave that blubber curtain to one side then you’re safe; you’re not a BIG FAT pig, on the other hand…
Hold on did I just say ‘big fat pig’ out loud? How rude. I actually meant ‘aisle blocker’, ‘lard ass’? Okay, how about fatso? No, how about fat person? Still no good? How about overweight person?
The reality is that no matter the adjective (however right or wrong it may sound), the reality will always be the same; if you are overweight then you’re overweight. Whether or not you acknowledge it, say it out loud or somebody points it out to you, the fact will always remain the same unless you change it. Like it or not, and as we’re all very much aware, we live in body dysmorphic society; too big, too small, too fat, too thin, too saggy, too pale, too black, too yellow. Worse still, that same society has generated an industry that purports to cater to our aesthetic ‘deficiencies’ whilst paradoxically accentuating them; in 2012 Cosmetics Business.com reported that the UK beauty industry is in ‘better shape than it’s ever been’ with an estimated value of £15bn. It employs over a million workers (according to research carried out by Cosmetic Executive Women UK). The study also found that one in six new beauty businesses in the UK are nail salons whilst the facial skin care market alone was predicted to reach £1bn by the end of last year, thanks to a staggering growth in spend on anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle products. And we’re not just talking women here, the men’s market (whether everyday users freely admit to it or not) is growing exponentially as the secret moisturising obsessions of men (not necessarily just metrosexuals) will soon be equalled only by their penchant to get ‘bladdered’ on a Saturday night. And if ‘covering over’ those imperfections isn’t good enough, the ‘quick fix’ cosmetic surgery industry is also busy harvesting our insecurities with a whopping UK spend of £2.5b, and that’s according to figures published two years ago.
The things we think but hide are plentiful with countless motivations. There are white lies, black lies, lies to spare the feelings of others, lies to spare ourselves, lies because ‘it’s best’ and lies because we’re cowards. Yet, run as we may from it, the truth, like the proverbial tortoise sits and waits with unfaltering patience for the perfect opportunity to reveal itself and often wreak irreparable damage.
The most hurtful truths are those that are thought but not spoken. The kind that raise the eyebrows and maybe even elicits the surreptitious roll of the eyes but is not spoken, in its place is instead is a lascivious smile, akin to that of a scheming velociraptor.
Just because a truth is not spoken, it doesn’t make it any less true.
I often have this conversation with my sister and I know it’s a subject upon which we don’t always agree but I know that if I had a basil leaf or something similar stuck between my teeth, I’d much rather somebody close to me tell me the truth about than them allow me to meet with people and expose them to the green bling of my every smile. Similarly, I should be able to trust on those closest to me should I, in a moment of madness, decide to rummage at the back of my closet for my favourite yellow jumpsuit for my Friday night out (eww, I just got an image of that). The thing may look good at a fancy dress and even then we may be stretching the boundaries of decency and taste but you get my point. (I don’t own a yellow jumpsuit by the way, in case you’re wondering but I know a sexy lady who does). The point being that we all should be able to feel ‘safe in our space’ and be able to rely on the trust and honesty of those closest to us.
People fear the truth because it’s more than often perceived as cruel or unkind.
Cruel or unkind? Since when is telling the truth deemed as cruel or unkind? Doesn’t society condition us to the belief that honesty is the best policy? If that’s the case then why are we selective in what we do and do not share with others? Does our withholding of the truth make it any less real? We’d all be very comfortable telling a paedophile that his practices repulse us? But we’ll more than often avoid telling our partner we don’t love them anymore.
The truth simply is. The only difference is who is holding it, how it makes them feel, and the impact they believe if it will have on others and themselves if spoken.
Ghandi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
Most animals deceive each other but it appears that only humans are genetically programmed to deceive others and themselves. The root of this appears to be in that old favourite; self-esteem. We can be so absorbed with how we’re perceived by others that we’re often unable to tell truth from fiction.
Psychologist Robert Feldman believes that people lie reflexively, “We’re trying not so much to impress other people but to maintain a view of ourselves that is consistent with the way they would like us to be.” Most of us strive to make ourselves ‘agreeable’ to others, to make a social situation ‘easier’ by not overtly or inadvertently saying something that may be perceived as ‘disagreeable.” Feldman also conducted a series of experiments that involved putting people together in a room to observe how they interacted with each other. He also videoed these sessions and later asked each person, individually, to watch their recording and to objectively identify things that they had said that were inaccurate or untrue. Most of the subjects were actually surprised to learn that they hadn’t been entirely truthful with some of the things they had shared. Lies ranged from “pretending to like someone they actually disliked to falsely claiming to be the star of a rock band.” The study, which was later published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, found that 60% of subjects lied at least once during the 10-minute conversation, saying an average of 2.92 inaccurate things. The study also found that men lie no more than women although they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while women tend to lie to make the other person feel better, and that extroverts tend to lie more than introverts.
Self-esteem and threats to our sense of self are also drivers when it comes to lying to co-workers, rather than strangers. Humans tend to show themselves in a positive light when in the company of others (especially those they care about) and will do anything to protect their self-worth, hence the saying ‘cramp my style’.
Which brings me right back to the fact that we may think something about somebody but we may not necessarily verbalise it but does that make it any less true or untrue?
“Does my bum look fat in this?”
What’s your answer?
It would be safe to say that that depends on the type of person you are and who you’re interacting with. If you’re a woman, subject to how well you really know the other person you’ll most likely lie to spare their feelings (if they do look fat). If you’re a man, again, subject to who that person is, you’ll most likely lie to save yourself! If it’s a female partner, wife or girlfriend, you’ll most likely lie again but not to spare her feelings but your own because ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.
Am I right girls?
So how are you feeling at the end of the 1st month of 2013? Are you feeling as disillusioned as the statisticians would have us believe? Of course you aren’t you’re a paragon of happiness and brightness and everything is as it should be and if it wasn’t then you probably wouldn’t want to share it with the rest of the world.
Or would you?
The truth hurts, sometimes but not always. Some truths are beautiful; the negative and sometimes the positive result of a medical test, the revelation that the object of your affection feels the same way as you, and learning that you’re not alone in the world. The same world that is full of beautiful truths about you and about life. Like the love of another human being, friend or partner, someone you trust implicitly to tell you honest truth, good or bad, someone who knows you well enough to look you in the eyes and say something like, “I know you told me that everything’s fine but now tell me the truth” and want to hear it.
For every dark thing that may cloud your happiness there are a myriad of others you could call on to brighten your world, you just need to be truthful enough to yourself to want to see them.
“Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it.”- Robert F. Kennedy
Have a serene Sunday. 🙂