Take yourself out some place. A café perhaps, on a busy downtown street, or ideally to the train station or the bus station.
Now, get yourself a magazine. Screw the articles. Get one with lots of pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. This is not an intellectual exercise.
It’s a reality check that crosses all lines; culture, colour, class, IQ, language, gender, orientation, age. We’re all in this particular boat together baby.
Now, get settled in with those pics in your GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmo, or one of thousands of others in the same genre. Soak them in. Admire the pretty people.
Fantasize about their fabulous lives. Wish and dream about being like them, or even just knowing them, and being close to their world. Feel just a little bit smaller.
Now put the magazine down. Leave it open to a picture if you like, it doesn’t matter. It might even help. Shift your attention away from it though, and instead watch the dizzying array of people parading before you. Yeah. You know where I’m going with this don’t you?
Of all the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people walking past you, how many look like the models in the magazine? I’ll tell you. None. Not one. Not a single goddamned one of them. Not even the ones who are desperately trying to look like them. Hell, if one of the actual models from the magazine happened to walk by, even they wouldn’t look like their media image portrays them.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t look away just yet! You’re only half way through the exercise. Keep watching the parade. Watch until you find yourself revelling in the variety, until you realise where true beauty lies, until you realise it’s all subjective and the whole playing field constantly shifts and is only made up of our individual judgements based on our own needs and insecurities. Until you realise that what you see passing before you is an intricate and dazzling display of human beauty in all its forms and that in actual fact it is the media image in its inaccurate simplicity that generally fails to capture that depth.
Repeat the exercise as often as possible, until you really actually get the truth of it. Afterwards, continue to buy those magazines if you want, but for goodness sakes, keep them in perspective.