When I first announced this new series here at TheBingeThinker.com I knew from the start that there would be things I would be challenging myself to consider along with my readers.
Some of these topics will be far from my areas of expertise, additionally, some will take me outside my comfort zone. For both personal and professional reasons there are just some things I’ve never written about.
Today’s topic is one of them.
Growing up in a rigorously sheriffed household overseen by family full of fundamentalist baptists we were always taught that a person’s appearance was rather unimportant–even unspiritual. It was almost a sin in fact to put much emphasis on “looking good.” As a result the desire was to get us to focus on our character and our decision making, and for the most part it worked. Prior to college graduation I had never smoked, had never consumed an ounce of alcohol, was a horrible dancer, and didn’t really understand any connection between aesthetics and their proper place in life. Which was odd because I took art classes and loved the fact that my mother was a gifted painter, sketch artist, and seamstress. Also, everyone in the house was a musician. We loved beautiful sounds and sights, but for some inexplicable reason applying it to our own looks was always discouraged.
As time went by I was able to begin to decipher what was actually moral and what was just plain legalistic control.
Fast forward years down the road.
I now work in New York City. I am seen weekly on Fox News Channel. I host a broadcast that reaches 66 million television households every Saturday night. And I am doing more public speaking than ever in my life.
Last year I decided to lose 30lbs, I am now utilizing the abilities of a personal trainer, and I take more time when getting the few hairs on my head cut, picking out the frames for my glasses, or pocket square for my jacket. I even purposefully focus on attempting to smile more when taking photos, be they with listeners, or for my own public relations materials.
So what happened? Did the content of my character suddenly take a back seat?
I pray not.
But I did begin to realize that whether we wish it to be so or not, people perceive us almost the instant they meet us, and one of the keys to life is not only to make good impressions, but to back them up.
In other words, they can’t see your character coming, but they’ll never get to know your character if they never meet you!
I wanted more expert thoughts on how this can be made practical for you as you read though. The purpose of the Resource Strategies features is to give you concise tools to put into your life so that you are able to “live life to the fullest.”
To help us I turned to my friend Dr. Morris Westfried. He is a widely respected dermatologist with thirty years of board certification, and his medical degree from Yale Medical School. He has experience in some of the widest ranging fields of medicine, everything from the emergency room to pediatrics, but he settled on dermatology. When I asked him why, he simply said, “I can do so much good!”
I asked him his thoughts on why physical appearance in fact does matter.
“Our first perception of other people is based purely on appearance.”
We may not like that this is true, but it is universally. We draw conclusions based on what we see. A black hooded figure with an ISIS flag in one hand evokes something much different in us than your baby daughter riding on her first pony ride.
Dr. Westfried says this is normal, and it starts at birth, “We don’t (can’t) learn the content of someone’s character immediately, this takes time. But we can do much to shape first impressions.”
“About 2 percent of all people will be born with a congenital abnormality, most of them minor. The obvious cosmetic abnormalities are birthmarks such as port wine stains facial red marks, hemangioma, large collections of blood and congenital moles. These are in addition to rarer congenital abnormalities involving eye muscles and bony structures. For congenital birthmarks lasers offer a treatment option. In adolescence to a varying degree teenagers suffer from acne sometimes severe which untreated can persist for years. Severe cystic acne can leave permanent scarring which is easily correctable with micro-needling the insertion of tiny needles to cause a lifting of depressed scars.”
For the young, none of these issues has anything to do with vanity, but their presence can serve up cruel outcomes.
“As we age these issues can still affect us in profound ways.”
Dr. Westfried added, “Later in life some are unfortunate to be damaged by an accident. Think of our brave military who risk their life for our freedom. Burn scars are now more amenable to treatment with lasers to flatten and soften the appearance of these scars.”
“As we age natural changes both from environment and aging occur change in skin color and the effect of gravity and the slowing down of metabolism. The cheeks hollow, the neck sags the lower lids become puffy and we lose hair.”
Dr. Westfried believes we shouldn’t lose heart though.
“Many of these conditions are able to be improved without surgery delivering low level energy to reverse these changes whether through laser, radio frequency, ultrasound, or microwaves. We can tighten skin , shrink fat, remove discoloration, grow hair, remove unwanted tattoo ink, remove unwanted hair and correct scars without downtime.”
The outcomes prove favorable in both the arena of self estimation, but also as it relates to social confidence, interaction with others on the job, at church or synagogue, and in the community.
“As methodologies improve, so does the hope that comes with them.”
When we think about the aesthetic beauty that God gives each of us, its important that we on some level still heed the advice of my fundamentalist upbringing. It is the person inside that is the most important to cultivate. A person’s character can never be fully determined by any external attribute.
But this is not to say that aesthetics are not important. Studies point to the idea that the better we feel about ourselves the better we perform at our tasks. And in a day when the tendency continues to be to casual it out to the max, adding a jacket to the jeans can actually put you in a different mindset going into a meeting with a client.
Treatments like those that Dr. Westfried’s office specializes in are only a part of the answer, and he says that as new solutions continue to evolve in both efficiency and price point, more and more people will be able to have that greater sense of honorable confidence.
“These treatments have great changed as they have evolved over the last fifteen years,” said Dr. Westfried. “And as they continue to improve, we will continue to be able to offer better outcomes for any and all that we attempt to help.”
And I believe people will be truly grateful for their ability to do so!