You are an intelligent, beautiful, necessary person. But more on that later. First, I want to talk about my moustache.
For one glorious day last Movember, I had a wonderful, beautiful, bountiful moustache. Movember was created as a way to raise awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer. To raise awareness, men grow moustaches. It’s kind of simple. It’s also kind of awesome.
I normally rock the beard and haven’t had a moustache since college. Reasons? 1) My face looks fatter without the dark frame of my beard and 2) my wife hates it. HATES it. But after some discussion about the reasons behind it (not sure this actually happened) and just feeling like I needed to do something to pick me up from the not-feeling-so-great-about-the-way-I-look-doldrums (yes, guys have this, too), I somehow convinced Patty that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. So, this happened:
Guess how many people loved that wonderful, beautiful, bountiful look? One. Yup. Just me (crazy, right?). It was Thanksgiving, the day when, you know, people are thankful and full of gratitude and nice and stuff, but when I arrived at my aunt’s house, after having had several hours of trying to soothe Patty’s visceral hatred for my exquisite ‘stache, I was compared to the following by several members of my family (in no particular order):
1) 70s Porn Star
3) 80s Wrestler
5) Creepy Old Guy
6) Carl Winslow
Yes, this happened:
Now you have to know my family to understand that this was all light-hearted teasing, the kind of lovable sarcasm that makes you feel right at home. So no issues there. But it did make me think about how easy it is for us to discuss the way a person looks. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, for example. When people haven’t seen me in a while, it’s the first thing they mention. “You’ve gained some weight” or “you’ve lost some weight.” Get a haircut? Someone will mention something about it. Wearing a new dress? Someone will tell you it’s beautiful and another person, behind your back, will probably say you shouldn’t be wearing something so tight or so short or so cheap. Of course there’s not always intention of harm or ridicule, but what about other stuff?
A person’s intelligence, for example. Absent learning disabilities, language barriers, etc., we all know people who are just, well, kind of not there. Why is it not kosher to talk about a person’s ability to think critically, for example, or make good life choices? Why is it not okay when said person walks into the room to say, in a joking manner of course, “Hey, so and so, breaking up with that guy or girl was a really bad decision, huh? That job you quit and now you got kicked out of your apartment? And now you’re lonely and credit card companies are after you? Man, that was smart. Oh, and you think the world is only 6,000 years old? Good job.” Instead, we tend to show these folks empathy. Or, what about people who just aren’t nice? You know these people – the world revolves around them, they call only when they need something, they indulge in easy stereotypes. Why, when said person walks into a family gathering, we don’t say, “Hey, asshole. Try and be nice today, okay?” Or disrepectful people? Or lazy people? Or any other kind of person that has nothing to do with their appearance? What about society has made it so easy to comment on a person’s looks, but not the more important aspects about them?
When someone talks to me about losing weight, I want to say, "You should read more." When I hear someone talking about another person’s wardrobe, I want to tell them, "Have you ever heard of kindness?" I want to tell them to learn how to listen. Or learn how to count to three before overreacting. Or learn self-acceptance. Or learn how to have a conversation or learn how to do any number of things that are more important, things that are so much harder, so much more worthwhile, things that tell us so much more about a person than whether they can put an outfit together. I can think these things but will never say them because it’s not okay, it’s not acceptable, and the fact that I’m admitting I sometimes think these things has already made me an asshole, so maybe I should stop.
But I don’t want to be an asshole. What I want to do, if I can, is try and give compliments to nice people. Smart people. People who listen when you talk to them, people who take time to get to know you, people who help you out at work, people who have empathy, people who can make you laugh. Can you imagine how it would feel to have someone tap you on the arm and look into your eyes and say, “You’re so funny” or “You’re a really intelligent person and I just want you to know that” or "You have a great spirit about you" instead of, "Hey, bro, dope tatt!" or "Hey, girl, nice purse!" or "Hey, Fat-Ass, You're Fat!" Do you think this is something I could do? That we could do? Is it possible? Is it possible to try and give compliments beyond the way a person dresses, how their makeup looks, how much they weigh, the brand of their purse, the jersey they're wearing?
It’s a simple thing, really, but then again, it isn’t. To give a true compliment about a person’s character, personality, mind, requires us to make an actual commitment to get to know someone, to show vulnerability, to step outside of ourselves and past the superficial, to pass a person in the hallway and comment on something more than how much you like their new boots. It’s even more than “How’s your weekend?” or “Did you see the game?” Most of us live lives on the roller coaster of self-esteem. We second-guess what we say, what we wear, what we eat, what job we have, who we are as people. So with that in mind, I just want to say: you are an intelligent, beautiful, necessary person… even with that creepy 70s porn star ‘stache on your face.