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How you look doesn’t matter at all. Here’s why.

In our society, looks get a lot of attention. They are, after all, the first thing we see on one another. But despite the world’s obsession with thigh gaps, smooth foreheads and flat abs, it turns out looks don’t really matter at all.

You dyed-in-the-wool skeptic — I bet you’re shaking your head in disbelief right about now. After all, you hear about superficialities all day every day — from the pages of People to the inundation of the evening news. It’s justifiably hard to believe attractiveness is unimportant. But allow me to convince you.

As humans, we have one common denominator: to love and be loved. Without love, babies don’t develop properly. Kids grow up with major self-esteem issues. Adults become bitter and jaded. Life is lonely and feels devoid of purpose. Love is the cornerstone of the human condition.

And when it comes down to that penultimate desire for the L word, physical appearance is meaningless.

Here’s proof. Think of the people you love; the people who make your heart swell and flutter and thump. Picture them. Your mother. Your brother. Your best friend. Their gentle charm, their offbeat humor, their precious tenderness — their many unique and intangible attributes. Your love for them (and vice versa) is based on factors that have nothing to do with long eyelashes or strong jaws. You’d love them no matter how they looked, wouldn’t you? If they were disfigured or mutilated, you most assuredly wouldn’t love them any less.

Of course, when it comes to romantic love, there’s always the attraction factor. And yeah, you may have been drawn to your spouse or significant other based on their steely blue eyes or dazzling smile. But that initial passion and chemistry aren’t love. Love came later, based on their intrinsic qualities.

Love — that warm, fuzzy, all-encompassing affection and indescribable connection to and concern for another person — is an entity all its own. And it sure as hell isn’t about physical appearance.

I’m not suggesting looks are entirely irrelevant. They certainly have an influence on your life in a myriad of ways, but whether or not you’re loved isn’t one of them. The world’s most beautiful people aren’t the most loved. They may be idolized and obsessed over, but that, my friends, is nothing like love. Attention is not equal to affection.

So if love is the most important thing in our lives and has nothing to do with how we look, then why the hell are we so concerned with the latter? Looking like Giselle Bündchen or David Beckham won’t get us what we really want. Not ever.

Maybe we’d all be a lot better off if we stopped putting our attention on what doesn’t matter and started focusing on what does. Compassion. Kindness. Honesty. Connection. That’s the stuff love is made of. Not the shiny wrapper, but the sweet treats inside.

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