The Global Critic

The Fine Line Between Self-Acceptance & Self-Improvement

Last week, the call for entry was launched for my new television series, MOOIMAAK, set to air on kykNET from 5 October 2017.

Since then, I am happy to report, we have been snowed under by entries and social media responses, some of which have included the following wonderfully candid comments: 

  • “I need something positive like this in my life’;
  • “It’s as if my prayers have been answered, I need a smile makeover. I am unable to afford a dentist and, as a result, I no longer smile with confidence”;
  • “Being chosen as a participant in this show, would be the most amazing gift I have ever received in my life.”

Whilst my talented production team and I are (needless to say) extremely excited about the public’s overwhelming response, it did make me sit back and wonder: to what extent can or should improving our looks be a determining factor in changing our lives?

The title of our show (“MOOIMAAK”) refers, loosely translated, to the act of “beautifying something or someone”. The term also has a more colloquial meaning in Afrikaans, denoting the idea of “playing nicely” or “being gentle”.  As the title thus suggests, our goal is without question to “beautify” or dramatically improve the appearance of our participants and, in so doing, improve their lives: perhaps we can give their self-confidence the boost it needs for them to finally apply for that job or go on that date.

fraxel-dual-5

The dramatic effects of the latest skin-resurfacing laser treatments are indisputable

In addition, our aim is to achieve this outcome by “playing nicely” i.e. without knives (pun intended). We are excited about the sheer variety of non-surgical cosmetic and dental procedures on offer today in South Africa, at the hands of world-class professionals. This includes commonly known treatments such as chemical peels, botox and fillers to lesser known, cutting-edge procedures such as thread lifting and carboxytherapy, as well as the very latest cosmetic dentistry techniques.  We know that there are many women out there who might wish to improve their appearance by means of these treatments, but who lack the finances or the know-how to do so. This is where I hope to come in, by sharing my little black book of experts (from the country’s foremost non-surgical aesthetic practitioners and cosmetic dentists to my favourite makeup artists, hair stylists and designers) with our participants and, of course, our at-home audience.

At the same time, although we firmly believe that this series will change people’s lives, we are by no means advocating that “fixing your looks will fix your entire life”. How could anyone make such a claim when some of the world’s most annoyingly and gobsmackingly gorgeous people (e.g. Angelina Jolie) have publicly admitted to self-destructive behaviour that would, by all accounts, indicate a life somewhat broken on the inside?

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 19.35.15.png

So, if we, at MOOIMAAK, are hoping to changes peoples’ lives by changing their appearance, but at the same time saying “good looks alone won’t make you happy”, we are back to my original question, and I repeat: “to what extent can or should improving our looks be a determining factor in improving our lives?”

Having given it some thought over the last few days, I feel the answer might lie somewhere in the balance: the balance between self-acceptance and self-empowerment.

Whilst there are some things about our appearance we certainly cannot change and thus need to accept, there are plenty of wonderful things we can do to improve the way we look and, hopefully, the way we feel (ranging from expensive and time-consuming treatments to simply getting a more flattering hair cut or learning some clever new makeup tricks). I, for one, have certainly experienced the impact that having a cosmetic problem (like problem skin or skew teeth) can have on one’s confidence. On the flip side, however, I have endured (like everyone else) some challenging times in my life, including painful breakups and the death of loved ones, where (finally) having a clear complexion or a semi-Colgate smile did nothing to lighten the load.

So, before deciding to improve our appearance (whether it be on a glamorous makeover show or not), perhaps we should be guided by the famous (paraphrased) words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

In the current context, we might thus do well to ask ourselves the following questions (I’ll write them out in bullet points, in case your attention span is anything like mine, i.e. that of a goldfish with amnesia):

  • Which of our appearance-related problems do we need to accept and which can or do we want to do something about?
  • Which of the obstacles we face (like struggling to make that call to The Potential One or submit an application for The Perfect Job) might well be overcome by making some of the cosmetic changes on our wish list?
  • And, last but not least: which of the other ‘ugly’ issues in our lives (like an unhappy marriage or long-term family feuds) require a different kind of renewal?

Lastly, please know that, of course, I realise this is one of those highly controversial topics that everyone will have a different (yet equally valid) opinion on. I simply wanted to share my thoughts here and, hopefully, highlight a topic worthy of attention.

Love,

Clare.

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