My mission is to love people "from the inside out" and inspire others to do the same.

ABC's "Dating in the Dark" Experiment

So the other night, ABC aired the first episode of season 2 of Dating in the Dark. (By the way, where was I during season 1?!? I don't remember even hearing about the show until this season.) Oh, and it hasn't escaped my attention that this is the second ABC show that's all about looks vs. character, basically (see The True Beauty of "True Beauty" for my analysis of the other one). Incidentally, still another ABC show, Primetime, did a "What Would You Do?" segment a while back about whether strangers would step in to help upon seeing an overweight person being verbally abused. I'll blog about that one later. In any case, ABC is bringin' it!

But--I digress. Dating in the Dark is a "reality" show where, each week, 3 men and 3 women meet each other and date a few times only in a completely dark room. And only after that has taken place do they see what each other looks like and then decide if they want to date.

First of all, since this is a reality show, I'll stipulate that a) the producers pick certain personalities to create drama (and therefore ratings), and b) the editors can shape the story however they want. I get it. Having said that, the producers/editors would've had to drastically change from what happened to make one part of this not...just suck.

Joey is a self-proclaimed straight shooter who's attracted to thin women. But, as I've said in reference to the John Mayer fiasco, there's having preferences--and then there's being a total ass.

This should make it clear which category Joey belongs to:

I loved what Natasha said after she walked out of the room from that encounter: "If I'm 78% compatible with that [which relationship experts hired by the show had said], I need to change a lot about myself."

And Joey got what was coming to him--not a single one of the girls invited him to a reveal, and he left the show. Sadly, he didn't get it. He was all, "I don't know what happened. She was appreciating my honesty." Yeeeah, Joey, she was appreciating what giant ass you are. One can only hope he watched the show when it aired, saw her true reaction, and has decided to be less of a jerk from now on...though I can't say I hold out a lot of hope for that--usually the biggest jerks are also the biggest blamers-of-others.

I was glad to see that one woman, Kym, who admitted she'd been really picky in the past and about external things, did decide to let some of that go once she saw the guy she'd been pairing up with. He was wearing a (small) hoop earring in the reveal, and she said that, had she seen him first, she'd have written him off just for that! Wow. So--one person took a small step to overcome at least a little shallowness. Bravo!

So: what do you think? Would you be able to "date in the dark"?

The True Beauty of "True Beauty"

OK, so the cat's out of the bag--the season's over; Taylor won. The show? True Beauty, an ABC "reality" competition show where 10 beautiful people think they're in a beauty competition, the supposed prize being, this season, to be "the Face of Vegas."

Photo from True Beauty's Facebook page
Of course they think they're being judged mostly on their appearance...but in fact they're being watched through hidden cameras and judged on their inner beauty as well. Every week the contestants are given some kind of challenge (I know you're shocked), and while they're carrying it out, the judges are watching their behavior. Sometimes there's also a morally challenging situation set up (usually involving co-conspirators or actors) to see what the contestant will do. The contestant that does the most poorly in the challenge and whose character proves to be the worst each week is sent home.

One of the outrageous things about this season is that one of the judges was Beth Ostrosky Stern, as in Mrs. Howard. Um, seriously?!? Then there's the somewhat contrived nature of some of the situations the contestants are presented with. And, cheesiest of all, when a contestant is told they're going home, the last thing that you see is that person's portrait in the elimination room (which at one time was called "The Hall of Beauty") being taken off the wall by 2 "janitors," summarily dumped in their cart, and rolled away. At least we're not being over-dramatic or anything.

But of course, this show is about what's on the inside. And what's on the inside of this show is stated neatly by judge Vanessa Minnillo at the end of every episode: "Beauty is both inside and out, but true beauty comes from within." Tyra Banks, Ashton Kutcher, and the show's other producers are reminding America of that truth--and on television no less. Bravo!

Even the Beautiful People Need to Be Loved From the Inside Out

The other day at work I was having lunch with a bunch of people, and a couple of us got to talking about people who are extraordinarily attractive (as deemed by our culture). One guy told about a time when he was working in an office supply store, and this drop-dead-gorgeous woman walked in. Apparently she was so gorgeous that everyone in the store stopped what they were doing and just watched her. Even employees (some of whom called other coworkers and had them come onto the sales floor just so they could see this woman). Even the boss! My friend said that the boss, instead of doing any work, was himself watching and talking about her.

I started thinking about what her life must be like, if she's stared at everywhere she goes. How uncomfortable that must be! I even started to feel sorry for her. I know, it's hard to feel sorry for the beautiful people, right? But seriously, to be stared at all the time, to have people treat you like you're on some kind of pedestal, just because you're physically attractive? That would get tiresome for me--really fast. I know the times I've felt I was being appreciated solely for my looks (though I wouldn't say it happens all that often), it has really annoyed me--because all I can think is, "I am so much more than my looks!" Don't misunderstand me: I do like being considered attractive. It's just when I sense that it's the only level I'm being appreciated on that it grates on me.

I mentioned to my friend that I actually felt sorry for her. He said he believes the reason that sometimes, really gorgeous women go for guys who are basically losers is that those guys treat them mediocre at best--and since it's so different from how everyone else treats 'em, it feels like a good thing. That actually made a lot of sense to me! I had often wondered why you sometimes see really beautiful women (who, ostensibly, could have anyone they want) with just total loser guys. Perhaps this is an answer.

So: the question this time isn't: who are you overlooking? but: who are you fawning over, just because they're gorgeous? Maybe it's time to get to know them as people--and treat them as such.

I preach to myself, by the way.

'Drop Dead Diva' Ad Opposite Show's Message

So today I was in the car and had the radio tuned to a local pop station, when I heard a commercial for the TV show Drop Dead Diva. The voice-over announcer said something close to the following:
When you're a drop-dead model on your way to heaven, returning to earth in a size 16 body can be a big problem.
OK, I don't watch the show (something about the loved one coming back--in whatever form--hits a little to close to home; know what I mean?), but I'm thinking, "Isn't the show about accepting oneself regardless of size?" (Hmm...maybe I should watch after all.) Turns out, it is. From Lifetime TV's "About" page for the show:
In the first season of “Drop Dead Diva,” beautiful-but-vapid model wannabe Deb (Brooke D’Orsay) suddenly finds herself in front of heaven’s gatekeeper, Fred (Ben Feldman), following a fatal car crash. Outraged by her sudden demise, she attempts to persuade Fred to return her to her shallow existence but is accidentally relegated to the body of the recently deceased Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott). An intelligent, thoughtful and plus-size attorney with a loyal assistant, Teri (Margaret Cho), Jane has always lived in the shadow of her colleagues, whereas Deb has always relied on her external beauty. By a twist of fate and a bolt of divine intervention, Deb must come to terms with inhabiting Jane’s curvier frame and learn to reconcile her beauty-queen ways with her brilliant new mind.
Lifetime, might I suggest you have your ad agency rewrite that commercial? I mean, it implies the very opposite of your show's message! It implies that being a size 16 (especially for a once "drop-dead model") is a "big problem." Now, for any individual size-16 woman, if her size indicates a health problem, that's one thing. But somehow, Lifetime, I don't think that's the kind of "problem" a reasonable person could assume the ad's implying. It also implies that someone who's a size 16 is by definition not "drop dead" gorgeous. (Lifetime, I'm sure you agree with me, but in case anyone doubts, I offer a little evidence to the contrary.)

By the way, how did this ad even make it through the approval process? can do so much better.

Real Men Love From the Inside Out

So my friend Lauren recently posted a link to an essay she'd written for a class. It was about a dress she originally got at 13 for a formal dance. The dress is a  cheongsam, "an Asian-style dress with a mandarin collar and three frog clasps below the left shoulder." She describes how it fit her when she first got it (the "you" in the essay is her):
The shining column accentuated your statuesque frame. Its capped sleeves showed off your slender arms. It was ankle-length, but had a slit on the left side that went three inches above your knee...It covered your breasts completely. Your father couldn't find a reason to disapprove.
At 18, she brought the dress along when she went to meet for the first time in person her self-described Internet boyfriend (who is now her husband, Sam). I love this sentence: "If things went well, if he wasn't a creep or a liar, you'd wear this dress, and you'd wrap him around your finger."

By now, the dress barely fit. Before, the dress was a stately sheath, and now, the way it hugged your pronounced curves was almost obscene. The slit threatened to ride up to your waist when you sat down in the restaurant.
That night, while they happened to be alone in an elevator, he rode his hand all the way up the slit while they held each other and kissed.

At 20, the dress didn't fit at all anymore, and she sold it "with great consternation." Sam asked if she remembered the night of the elevator ride, and she did. But--all reminiscing aside,
...slowly, mistrust and melancholy crept in...You told him you would probably never look like that again. You told him that he might be better off finding someone new. You believed, with every fiber of your Valley-forged soul, that men were primarily interested in one thing, and when you no longer had it, you could no longer wrap men around your little finger, and your relationships were doomed to fail. You were wrong. He said you were wrong, but you didn't believe it - not until you rebuilt the rest of your life and befriended men, real men, not snuffling canines. The chengosam is gone forever, but you don't really miss it. You have other dresses that you make look lovely, not the other way around. (emphases mine)
Did Sam enjoy the dress and Lauren in it? Clearly. But, good man that he is, his attraction did not stop there. Bravo,'re among my heroes.

And Lauren, I'm so glad too that you realize: It's you that makes the dress. True beauty really does shine from within!

Plus-Size Women Compared to Robots

Well, I thought I knew what I was going to write about for my next post...and then the following happened at work yesterday [Friday]. (For reasons that should be obvious, I'll refrain from mentioning the name of the company where this happened--though those who know me will figure it out easily enough, lol.)

So my company has an intranet, and on it they post a daily Photo of the Day. Often it's something from the corporate archive, or it can be one an employee took and submitted to the intranet staff. Anyway, employees can post responses to the photo, like we can to internal news stories, etc. On Fridays the photo is a "mystery" photo--something the intranet staff cannot identify--or, I suspect, pretends it cannot identify, just to see if the rest of us can figure it out. And, for better and for worse, the Friday mystery photo has become an occasion for much humor making (or, as you'll see, attempting).

Yesterday, the mystery photo of the day was the one you see to the right. It turns out that this is a coal pulverizer. (Fascinating, huh?) One of the responders, who apparently thought he was being funny, posted this "guess": "Bender's date last Thursday. He likes plus-size models too." Well, as a "plus-size" woman, you can imagine: I was not amused. And told him so in a response of my own. We ended up in a bit of an exchange, which follows:
Me: [So-and-so], As a "plus-size" woman, I don't find being compared to the above photo to be at all amusing. Perhaps I read too much into it, but I couldn't let this go unsaid."
 Him: Connie, along with Bender, i am also a fan. I appreciate many shapes. As far as how plus this "robot" is, i could not say, depends on robot scale, of which I am not an expert.
 Me: I'm not here to start a "war," but I feel like a true fan wouldn't compare us to hulking pieces of metal machinery in the first's degrading.

I just ask that next time you're about to generalize re: any category of people, just think a little more first how they *might* feel about what you're gonna say.
Him: I wasn't comparing it to a girl, i was comparing it to a robot, but yes, i know this is unwinnable.
Oh, so it's less degrading to be associated with robots?? I gave up at that point. In his mind, machinery and robots are somehow associated with plus-size women.

Does the association somehow go away for average or thin women?

Objectifying and stupid enough to broadcast his objectifying!  And can you say missing the point?!? He didn't even recognize that it was the association that I was really responding to.

(Then there's always the fact that he also broadcast Bender's preferences re: the opposite sex to the entire company. Gotta wonder how Bender feels about that.)

Talk about a big reminder of why I started this blog. Got my work cut out for me.

Now, before any of you give me that "Yeah, men are Neanderthals" business, don't even start. You know what that's called? An excuse. An excuse to succumb to the baser instincts of your nature. If that's you, ask yourself: Is that really the kind of man you want to be?

In an unrelated conversation this week, another coworker talked about a time when he considered the kind of son (in this case) he wanted to be--and started treating his mother better than he had in the past. His mother had been horrible to him and to his children, and for a long time he didn't speak to her. But, he said (and I paraphrase), "Rather than focusing on what the other person had done, I thought about what kind of person I wanted to be." And once he determined that standard and started acting toward it, their relationship improved. He concluded by saying, "Our behavior should not depend on other people." Wow.

So my challenge to you is this: Think about what kind of person you want to be. Do you want to be one who objectifies others? Who sickeningly degrades by associating a certain kind of person with inanimate objects? Or do you want to be the kind of person who treats others--all others--as unique, valuable, multi-dimensional people?

The choice is yours.

Does Appearance Matter After All?

Once I realized that Ron (see "About This Blog," left) was a beautiful person on the inside and my attraction to him grew from there, I started believing that physical appearance didn't matter at all, at least when it came to relationships. I'd hear a guy say "well, there has to be some attraction," and I'd assume he was shallow and would immediately remove him from consideration for dating or anything more.

I'm sure I even went for a time thinking that appearance didn't matter even outside of the relationships arena. I mean, as long as you're decent/presentable, then--no big deal. It just isn't important. That was my thought.

But then...over time, several things happened that have started to modify my thinking.

I realized that an attractive man still turns my head. For all my realizing that the inside truly does matter most, I definitely still have that kind of attraction goin' on.

I became a fan of makeover shows like What Not to Wear. On most of these shows, it's really not like "as long as the outside looks good, everything's cool." It really is about bringing out the person on the inside and making the outside match that. WNTW is forever finding people who are just great people--as raved about by their friends, etc.--but who just haven't developed the confidence (or whatever the issue is) to display their true selves. I'm forever amazed by the emotional transformation that almost all of the contributors (as WNTW calls them) go through and how far from just looking better, they come out so much more confident--and that's certainly a good thing.

I became a makeup artist through my work at Bare Escentuals.* Now, I had no idea when I applied there that I'd end up becoming a makeup artist! As hard as this may be for my coworkers to believe, I wasn't even aware that they applied makeup on people in their stores. (Why this hadn't occurred to me, I have no idea.) In any case, I now professionally apply and sell products designed to make people's outside look better. But here too, I have seen many women go from being not only skeptical to excited but also from insecure about themselves because of their appearance to glowing and happy because when we're done they see an even more beautiful woman looking back at them in the mirror.

And I must say, I love helping make other women look more beautiful and as a result feel better about themselves. It is so gratifying--to know that I've connected that woman to products that can enhance her quality of life and in a small way have helped her on her journey. As the Bare Escentuals Story says, "...while makeup can’t change the world, it can change people...It began when we asked women to imagine a makeup that would actually change the way they feel about their skin and themselves."

This is reminding me of something that I've actually known all along: how one feels about her appearance affects how she feels about herself--and how she feels about herself affects her entire life. In fact, a large part of my life story could be told around that concept. (That could be a whole other blog post.)

But what about the relationships arena? Should appearance truly matter there? If so, in what ways and how much?

Recently I had a conversation with a girlfriend about this topic. A friend of hers wanted to set her up with a guy she knew. My friend has seen his picture--and didn't find him particularly attractive. She asked me if I thought she should give him a chance anyway. As we were talking, I thought about it like this--and this is something most of us actually do know from experience: People can get better looking (or worse looking!) the more you know them. I even heard once that that's been scientifically proven--that when you look at someone you love, your eyes "airbrush" them as it were; you see them as more attractive than they might really be. (Speaking of which, what defines attractive, anyway? Interestingly, it varies from one culture to another. But again--that's a whole other blog post. I digress.)

Near the end of our conversation, my girlfriend said she'd decided to give her friend the go-ahead to set up a chance for her to meet this guy. I was really pleased to hear that.

So: what does this all mean? Well, here are some of the conclusions I've come to through all this:
  • It is always worth getting to know the person inside regardless of the outside--whether as a potential significant other, friend, or whatever. Even if that person's sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others, lol, at the very least, you'll have learned something. You'll have added to your life, not refused to add to your life.
  • When it comes to potential significant-other relationships, give a "less attractive" candidate a shot. While their appearance may cause a certain first impression, don't assume it's correct. Don't assume that you know how to interpret what you think their outside is telling you.
  • My appearance matters, but only to a point. The ways I think it matters are: It IS the basis of others' first impression of me. It IS part of how I tell the world about myself...and that aspect, I care a great deal about. And especially when it comes to potential significant-other relationships, showing outwardly who you are inwardly; well, that's pretty key.
  • Others' appearance matters, but only to a point. Gushing over a hot guy is fun, but if that hot guy is a total jerk, then yeah--I don't wanna date him.
In other words: look past the surface. Don't assume. Love from the inside out!

*This post represents my opinions only, not necessarily those of Bare Escentuals.
© Loving From the Inside Out

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