“Treat Yo’ Self!” – Occupy Salon Chair
PREACH IT #1: Why Caring About Your Looks Doesn’t Make You A Bad Person
If you’re a fan of the NBC show “Parks and Recreation,” you’re probably familiar with Tom and Donna’s “Treat Yo’ Self” philosophy. While presented comically, it is a major theme of the show, even bringing the skeptical Ben Wyatt to treat himself to the Batman suit of his dreams at the end of the episode. Tom and Donna are two rousingly confident characters and they know that they deserve to celebrate themselves with luxury. While other episodes do reveal typical personal struggles, their positive attitudes are something we all should aspire to. I mean really…you’d rather be one of them than Jerry right? So why is there so much stigma surrounding the fashion and cosmetics industries urging Americans to, dare I say, treat themselves?
Sure I get it. You don’t want your little capitalist girls and boys growing up anorexic, depressed, and wishing that they had what they hadn’t. Nevertheless, those are issues that cannot be completely blamed on one entity. Our culture, like any other, is complicated, and whether you want to blame the parents, the media, the president, or Cthulu, there is always something else to consider. Our culture, again like any other, does have it’s beauty standards, and they can definitely shape the way that we feel about ourselves. But instead of flat out rejecting the idea that appearance is important, we have to find a way to feel comfortable nurturing what we have learned as Americans and use it to make ourselves, and others, better people.
When I was a young girl, I believed in magic, and maybe just a little bit too much. I wished on fallen eyelashes, threw curses at my enemies, and thought that if I prayed hard enough, God would send me a lamp dwelling genie ready to fulfill all of my dreams. As an adult, I still believe in magic but, much more importantly, I believe in balance.
Maybe I wish on an occasional eyelash these days, but I am always confident that my hard work will be more fruitful. I know a rough day deserves an easy evening, and that it won’t kill me to have a little cake after a plate full of greens. Each day I practice touching on all of the things that are important to me, from family and friends to diet and exercise to positive thinking and just remembering to smile (believe it or not, no matter my mental state, I am a chronic frowner). However, there’s another piece of the pie here. Sure, you can change your diet or read a book about Buddhism and work to stimulate all of your body’s internal needs, but your external self needs some TLC too. If you’re going to bother worrying about eating more vegetables and keeping up on current political events, you can’t leave the rest hanging.
Ever notice that when you leave the house feeling a little better put together it becomes easier to greet the world in front of you? A rough day can easily become a triumphant one when prompted with the right amount of self care. I find that many people who are unhappy with their appearance will take the angry “It doesn’t matter!” road instead, and this way of thinking isn’t healthy. Ignoring anything in and of yourself will not yield positive results, whether it’s ignoring past abuses, emotions, or just ignoring a single blemish on your skin. Sure, in time that blemish will likely fade, but what caused it in the first place? Are you equipped with all the tools you need for facing it again? You could talk it out with a therapist, meditate in isolation, or dose yourself with your drug of choice to lighten the load, but I want to offer you another option.
Go to a spa. Get a massage, a facial, a mani/pedi, a hair cut. Get taken care of. Use that time to meditate on your problems. Spoil and stimulate your outer self while your inner self works through the kinks. Know that you deserve it. Now take care of yourself. Set aside some extra time in the morning to style your hair. Let it reflect your goals. Decorate your favorite parts of your body to thank them for being a part of you. Focus on what you are, what you have, and what you can do. Find the balance between what you seek in your heart and what you see in the mirror. Celebrate your ability to celebrate you, and recognize that not everyone else has the strength to do so.
Many find that exercising allows that same meditative space to connect to their physical self. And while working out is important, it is very goal oriented, forcing you to push your focus towards something you don’t already have. Getting pampered allows you to stay more in the moment. It isn’t about five more pounds, two more repetitions, or one extra mile, it’s about already being completely whole in that moment.
Sure this all might sound like touchy feely self help mumbo jumbo, but I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t think people needed to hear it. So many of us neglect our own needs for others, and if you don’t disrupt the practice now, you are stuck with a bad habit for life. Go ahead, Occupy Wall Street, or Oakland, or…Petaluma (are we really doing that?), but at some point, take a break to Occupy a soapy bathtub and paint your nails with your favorite Cat Stevens song on repeat (you know you have one).
You are your heart, your soul, your body, your mind, your eyes, your eyelashes, your shins, your shoulders, your pelvis, your penis, your breasts, your bones, your blood; you are everything that you are. And just as you nourish your physical body with the foods needed for survival; just as you feed your mind’s curiosities with a good book, a school lessen, or personal experimentation; just as you let your spirit consume the energies which give you hope, fear, faith, and wisdom; you must also buff and shine the shell that holds all of this together. Your skin, hair, nails, and teeth are your mechanical filter, and if not serviced, can weaken the machine, causing it to fail. And since we are offered no warranty on our bodies, you have to learn to be your own mechanic.
Take the time to treat yo’ self. Do it for me, do it for a friend, do it for your lover, but most importantly, do it to prove to yourself that you are worth it.
“Gotham needs me.” – Ben Wyatt, “Parks and Recreation” Season 4, Episode 4: “Pawnee Rangers”