It’s fashion week in NYC, which means that my favorite cafe by Lincoln Center is packed with trendy people wearing strange clothing and tall leggy models towering over the rest of us like skyscrapers. I’m not at all a fashionista, but I have fun watching the eclectic parade of people, all looking so different.
I can certainly understand why some women’s self esteem plummets when the impossibly gorgeous women in magazines suddenly come to life and are walking among us. But any insecurity just comes from playing the comparison game. (Game is a total misnomer too because it’s more a form of self-torture.) This painful comparison game consists of comparing yourself to someone else, whom you think is much better off than you, usually based on lots of assumption and little evidence. It’s not just comparison in the area of looks either, but also in terms of success, intelligence, wealth, etc. Such comparison can run rampant and wreak havoc on people’s self esteem.
But fashion week is fun to me because I appreciate how different and beautiful everyone is in their own way. People who fall prey to comparison are under the misunderstanding that there is only so much beauty or good fortune to go around and that it must always be of a certain type. But when you let go of comparison, then it becomes a joy to see all the different but beautiful shapes and sizes and shades we come in. And there’s so much to be appreciated even beyond looks. People are just fascinating. As a psychologist, I’ve been privileged to hear so many amazing life stories. Stories as full of beauty as they are of pain. Real life is certainly more fascinating than fiction.
I suggest that anyone torturing themselves by comparing themselves to others, especially models this week, practice a little self-acceptance. If we’re not all 6 feet tall and weigh 110 pounds, that’s just fine because we’re lovely in our own way and our looks are only a small part of that loveliness. Surprisingly, the easiest way to let go of comparison is through generosity. Really be happy for others’ success, good looks, or good fortune and know that there is more than enough to go around. You can be beautiful in so many different ways and successful in so many different ways. If you don’t believe me, look at some of our most beloved singers or musicians, who aren’t the most beautiful to look at, but once they start singing or playing, they transform into the sublime.
So instead of focusing on others’ success in comparison to your own perceived lack, focus on your own strengths and your good fortune in other areas. Focus on finding the thing that brings out the sublime in you. Ultimately, we all have our own form of beauty that is revealed in so many different ways.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein
Dr. Christine Fernandez is a Psychologist in NYC, who helps professionals achieve more success in their personal lives and careers.