One doesn’t have to look very far to see how obsessed people have become with looking good in the western world. And this is not limited to one gender; both men and women are involved in this.
For a woman it could relate to: the kinds of clothes they wear, make-up, body shape, hair style, skin tone and numerous other things. In recent years, the general definition of what it means to look good for a man has also changed. It can often be hard to differentiate between the two sexes when it comes to these requirements.
Wearing smart clothes or looking after their hair is not enough, it has now gone onto include: looking after their body, wearing fake tan, waxing and using moisturisers in some cases.
And looking after oneself is a sign of self respect and self love. This is not something that one should feel ashamed of or even feel guilty for doing. By feeling good about oneself on the inside, this will then be observed on the outside through how one dresses and presents themsevles.
This could mean that in today’s world, people generally have a greater appreciation and self respect than in the past. And the reason people are so focused on looking good is due to this inner change that has taken place.
But, there is looking good and then there is becoming obsessed with looking good. And in a number of cases, a form of obsession has taken over. The natural and healthy need to look after oneself has gone to the extreme.
The Big Cover Up
One of the things that one can do when they feel a certain way is to go to the other extreme. So for example, if someone feels that they are inferior or less than others, they can go to the other side of the spectrum and put on an act of being superior and more than others.
The ego mind works in polarities and this means that there is no grey, the only thing it knows is black or white; which is why there is the tendency for human behaviour to be so clear cut.
And the obsessive need to look good is therefore being used to cover up what is going on, on the inside. It is an example of the ego mind going from one extreme to the other.
What’s Going On?
In order to understand or try to understand what the reasons are for this obsession, the attention needs to be placed on the inner world. As what is going on in the outer world is generally a mirror of what is taking is taking place in someone’s inner world.
So through looking good and going to the extreme, it is allowing one to regulate how they feel on the inside. The painful feelings that are being experienced within are then pushed out of one’s conscious awareness. If this process has gone on for long enough, one may not even be aware of these feelings.
And just like any form of make-up, fake tan or moisturiser, this process has to be constantly applied. For if one doesn’t look good, the inner fears of being disapproved of, rejected or abandoned could soon arise. So it is then only natural that this whole process would be an obsession.
This is just one way that the ego mind has to cover up feelings and emotions that are painful. Of course the feelings won’t go away by pretending they don’t exist, but the pain will be covered up for a short while and may no longer exist as far as the mind is concerned.
And although there may be a certain preference as to the kind of people who will admire how one looks, in the grand scheme of things, it won’t matter who it is. A bit like someone who hasn’t eaten for weeks, any kind of food will do.
The ego mind is not discerning when it comes to who the acceptance or approval comes from. As long as it takes place, that’s all that matters. Ones emotions and feelings are then being regulated externally through other people.
Beyond The Obsession
So on one side, it shows that this person has trouble regulating their emotions and on the other that they have emotions that have been and are being repressed. The obsession is ultimately not good or bad, it is just a way to deal with these emotions. And as emotions are generally ignored in the modern day world, one could have the outlook that there is no other way to deal with them.
If they had the ability to regulate their emotions or to seek others assistance in doing so and didn’t have the emotional build-up, then the need to obsessively look good is unlikely to be there. To take care of oneself would naturally be there, but not in an extreme way.
Whether one can emotionally regulate themselves or not, will typically depend on the kind of nurturing they received as a child. And if one wasn’t regulated as a child, it is likely that they will have a lot of emotions that had to be repressed and pushed out of conscious awareness.
Two Types Of Care
The type of care that is the most beneficial when it comes to creating a healthy child and therefore adult, is empathic care. This will involve a primary caregiver that is generally emotionally available and consistent in responding to the child needs and wants. During times of emotional unrest or unease, the child will be: mirrored, validated, soothed, and touched.
Through this taking place, the child will not have to cover up their emotions and will develop the ability to regulate themselves. And feel that it is safe to go to others for help when they become overwhelming. A strong sense of self is also likely to develop.
When the caregiver is unempathic, the caregiver will generally be emotional unavailable and inconsistent when it comes to the Childs needs and wants. They may even ignore them altogether in extreme cases. So during moments when the child is emotionally unstable, they are likely to be: mismatched, invalided, ignored and even abandoned.
This has the potential to create dire consequences both for the child and when the child becomes an adult. The child is then unlikely to be able to regulate their emotions, simply because they had no one to model. And this can then mean that their emotions will have had to have been repressed and denied. To seek assistance from others during emotional unrest won’t feel comfortable either. One is unlikely to develop a strong sense of self; this can lead to the likelihood of one seeking a higher degree of acceptance and approval in others.
The above is a very general description and there is inevitably going to be other factors involved; as some people can have challenges in latter life or have had a one off experience as a child that created problems for example. However, what it does do is shed some light on what is taking place at a deeper level for people who are obsessed with looking good.
Through emotional regulation not being developed as a child and emotional repression taking place, it is inevitable that this person is going to experience emotional problems as an adult. That is unless one seeks some kind of assistance, such as a therapist or a healer for example.
And when one doesn’t have a healthy relationship with themselves and is therefore doing all they can to run away from who they are, it is only natural that obsessions will exist. But this is just one sign of inner unrest and there are many others.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.