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The culture in most of the world today gives us the message that the way we look is important, and some ways of looking are better than others.  Most of us grow up receiving these messages, either explicitly or implicitly.  We may be criticised by people around us for the way we look, or told we should try to change the way we look.  Alternatively, we may get praised for the way we look.  Or we may see our parents or caregivers taking great pains to try to change or maintain the way they look, and get the impression that that's a necessary part of life: something we have to do, like paying our bills.  We may overhear people bemoaning weight gain, or expressing jealousy about the way someone else looks.  We may watch films or TV programmes in which the hero or heroine always tend to have certain physical characteristics, and assume that you need to look like that in order to be popular, interesting or successful in life.  We may see people being ridiculed or bullied online for the way they look.  We hear these messages repeated so often that they just seem like truth.  After all, why would everyone propagate these messages if they weren't true?  

And so we get sucked into the false notion that there are objective standards to determine whether people look good or not.  We begin to measure ourselves and our peers against these standards.  'An appearance hierarchy' is formed in our minds that reflects the messages we have received from the world around us.  And we want to be near the top if we can!  And who can blame us?  Being at the top means being loveable, attractive, desirable, self-controlled, worthy, and being at the bottom means being disgusting and unimportant.  So, when we fail to live up to how we think we should look, we feel terrible because our worth is on the line.  When we see people who fail to meet the standards, we may feel sorry for them. We live our lives judging how we look, and how other people look, and we feel enormous pressure to tick the boxes and measure up.  And this is how the problem starts.  It is a process of being brainwashed our whole lives until there seems like there is no reality beyond the one our minds have bought into.  We are trapped in an endless cycle of trying to improve or maintain the way we look.  Or, in desperation, we give up trying, and resign ourselves to feelings of inferiority and unworthiness.   

All these negative, pressured thoughts take their toll, and rob us a lot of enjoyment of life.  The extent to which we are impacted varies, but most people view people's appearance through the filter of this conditioning.  Fortunately, once we realise that the beliefs that we've been buying into aren't true, there is a permanent way out of this suffering.


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