The danger of comparison

We live in a society that worships image. This is an ultimate side effect of a profit driven culture. With an over abundance of choices in all aspects of our life, the only way to make MY product stand out over YOURS is to somehow make it APPEAR better. Since humanity in general is also a very visual species, making something stand out almost ALWAYS involves visual stimulation. A picture will sell something much faster than any amount of words.

While this may be effective, it ultimately becomes a very cynical way to influence people, especially when those who seek to influence have their OWN agendas as the main focus. This is especially notable in any industry that has to do with personal appearance. As technology advances, we are so inundated with images of what we SHOULD look like that many of us become totally disillusioned with our own reality. We find ourselves dreaming of, or even trying to achieve, a level of “perfection” that in reality simply does not exist. And when we inevitably fail, we give up altogether, or develop confidence problems, or any other of a whole list of possible consequences.

A model of what Barbie would look like with realistic measurements. Reality vs Idealized Advertising.

This is not a good model for health.

The reality is this. Every human being is different. There is not such thing as a perfect or ideal body. And the images we see that often imply that such things exist are often doctored to inhuman proportions, or to hide the flaws that are actually there. Then when we wonder why we can never match those images, we find fault within ourselves. The ultimate solution to this Catch 22 is this: DON’T COMPARE OURSELVES TO OTHERS.

Healthy living is about becoming the best person WE are capable of being. Not becoming someone else. If we lower our standards to realistic goals, we might be surprised how much easier they are to achieve. It still will take effort and persistence, but both are well worth it when we achieve progress towards a realistic goal, instead of failing to reach a “perfection” that is not actually attainable.

And even if such ideals as six-pack abs and cut bodies MAY be achievable for some, the level of commitment that is often required to achieve such bodies is more than many are willing or even capable of doing. When we see these pictures of supremely fit people and use them as motivators, it often goes unnoticed that many of these people have made fitness into a full-time occupation. I do not condemn this by any means, for if it makes them happy then it is a wonderful choice. But healthy does not NEED to mean full-time exercise and diet control. That is a personal choice. If we work out an hour a day, and wonder why we can’t achieve the same body as someone half our age, who exercises five or six hours a day … do I need to go on?

So it comes down to this. What is it we truly wish to achieve? Stop aiming for propagandized “ideals” that do not actually exist. Stop comparing ourselves to others who have different goals than us. Figure out what WE want to be; what would make us the best “ME I can be”, and aim for THAT goal. Once we have reached that attainable goal, we can then consider the next step. Stop trying to be someone else!