Looks and Depression

Tony Ryan - Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I thought I may share some further thoughts re the looks issue of depression. Last night for a rare occasion I went out to a place called 'The Beach'. It is a trendy hotel in Port Melbourne frequented by the so called 'beautiful people'. I used to go to such places regularly myself a few years ago and used to judge myself and others harshly at times. I left many times with anger and/or low self esteem.

Last night I was there more as an observer than an active participant. I suppose you could say I was more consciously playing the game than being unconsciously caught up in the illusion. Throughout the night I met and observed a variety of people who helped me to see more deeply into the issues of aesthetics and self esteem.

The first person was a girl of about 30 who used to be an exotic dancer. She was bemoaning the negatives of the industry and reflecting on how fortunate she is to be out of the influences of the dance clubs. She also said that much of her survival was due to her putting up a wall or barrier to the energy in that environment. My belief is that this wall would have actually hurt her. That in putting up a wall she was judging herself and her clients. That on both counts she would be lessening her self esteem with the walls. In fact the walls just most probably prolonged her exposure to the industry. I feel that back then she saw herself as selling her sexuality not her aesthetic beauty. Now at 30 I still observed her as valuing herself for sexuality rather than beauty.

Overall in this bar I felt a similar energy pervading the night. Many or perhaps even most of the patrons seemed to be trying to project a sexy image rather than being individually beautiful. I watched a group of 4 guys greet each other. They were of differing aesthetic appearances but all dressed in a similarly trend selected clothes. They had designer worn jeans, tight t shirts and fashion runners. When they greeted each other their expressions were very rehearsed. It was obvious that they wanted to also project a strong confident persona to accompany their aesthetic look.

The next group of people I met were 3 women in their 30's. One of the women was more aesthetically attractive in my opinion than the other 2. However she appeared to be very shy and seemed to have a defensive wall up to people that approached her. She wasn't trying to project sexuality and was more trying to hide from people. Another friend who was a mother of 2 was very open and very real and mixed freely and equally with everyone she met. The third of the friends was very interested in the topic of aesthetics and openly discussed her various views. One comment she made was that her shy friend just doesn't realise how aesthetically beautiful she was and that if she did she did would be far more confident in herself.

My response was that I didn't think that being aware of her aesthetic beauty would necessarily help her self esteem. That looks alone does not bring long term peace and self esteem. However the woman I was talking to seemed to think it would. She also commented that she finds it very hard to not get angst when she sees attractive and/or skinny women. I suggested to her that if she looked at another woman and felt that this woman was attractive to just appreciate the beauty for what it is. If she viewed a skinny girl and didn't appreciate that beauty then accept her perception and once again be at peace with her observation. That if she compares herself to the attractive or skinny girls that she is actually separating herself from the ability to observe beauty for beauty's sake and is becoming judgemental and is dis empowering herself.

I honestly feel that the way we project and observe our aesthetic beauty is very important to our mental stability. If we can project and view each other without need or competition then we will empower ourselves through our interaction. If I was to view a landscape or a sunset and see beauty I would most likely be empowered with the view. I would not be needing anything back from the object of my gaze and as such would have no rejection fears and no judgement fears. However if I was to view the beauty of a female then I would open my mind to much confusion.

It is very hard to view another human being's aesthetics without being conditioned to judge the situation. I would worry about society's views on looking at women, I would also be affected by the energy or consciousness of the woman I was viewing. A landscape is not going to judge us for looking at it. It has no ego and is only projecting it's natural beauty and has no agenda in being observed. A person may look a certain way but may project a variety of energy back to the observer. Further the observer themselves may have already initiated an energy to the observed. There is just so much confusion when it comes to the human body and our looks.

My belief is that if we could look at the aesthetics of each other as we would something in nature then we would be far more stable and at peace within. If people valued their aesthetic beauty as a gift and not as a commodity to gain acceptance they would gain a positive energy rather than the negative energy of need. So many of us seem to want to possess and control beauty in each other. We also seem to put pressure on ourselves with regards to ageing and beauty. I truly believe that people should feel their bodies as a gift not as a competitive tool. To be proud if they have an aesthetic gift rather than superior.

On a deeper level does an aesthetic beauty in a person prove happiness or peace? People seem so locked in to proof these days in a physical/material sense. So few of us believe in our hearts deepest feelings anymore. We are so intent on proof to actually believe in life and ourselves. Faith is very low and mind/thoughts are far more dominant than feelings. Is it possible that our dependency on physical aesthetic looks is just our outward proof of this material dependency? Do we seem to unconsciously relate aesthetic beauty to happiness? Does this make the people most disconnected to themselves jealous of perceived physical beauty in others?

I truly adore the aesthetic beauty of women. This is why I love photographing for leapoffaith. However I also love the energy in empowered people. The way I shoot my models is for beauty not lust and to my mind my photographs are the equal in beauty to any landscape or sunset. It is only the judgement of the viewer that can lesson the affect of my imagery. However for human aesthetic beauty to be a positive influence on society people must think of themselves as beautiful not superior or sexy and the viewer must be open minded in their observations of others.

Some say beauty is only skin deep..that true beauty is found within. However beauty is also skin deep in my opinion. Physical beauty can be very surreal and when people view it free of society conditioning it does touch their souls. In this case it builds heart not ego.

With regards to last nights part goers..I wonder how many went home with a positive attitude about themselves..how many feel better today for their experience and how many are feeling less or disappointed? Of those who are feeling less I wonder how many feel this way yet are not even aware of why?

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