Picture Perfect

harriet ES

From an early age we are all bombarded with images of the perfect physique, height, weight, shape, colour of skin, the perfect hair in the perfect style, perfect dress code, the perfect accent, or having the perfect smile. Even having the perfect smell is important, as Billboards are forever purporting an idyllic life, if we only conform to the purchase of a small bottle of scented water.

Then there’s the perfect man or perfect lady, the perfect husband or wife or partner. Can we ever be the perfect mum or dad? The perfect catch, swipe left or right…… Are we destined to have relationships based on what a computer tells us is our perfect match? The perfect cook, cleaner and bottle washer. Being the perfect neighbour or the perfect friend, having the perfect garden or giving the perfect dinner party is something to aspire to achieving.

It is no wonder that we look in this manufactured mirror and find ourselves wanting. I’m not up to scratch. I haven’t reached the bar. I’m not up to the mark or level required to make me feel content with what I have. My lot in life falls short of the standard set.

A standard set by whom? Who decrees that this is right and that isn’t? Who says that the colour of my skin or shade of eyes or curl of my hair (what is left of it) is less than naturally part of the wonder of life’s diversity? Who says that all shapes and sizes, all lengths, all that I am or ever will be, should be marked against a scale drawn up by some arbitrary ethereal panel of judges decreeing a certain demographic is the ideal by which all others should be measured? This has the result of making me feel less than what I am and that others are better than me or that they stand more of a chance in life due to the genetic makeup that has granted them this stereotype of quantifiable perfection.

A few months ago M and I were on a Charity visit in Ukraine working for Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline (Herne Bay Link), helping those families still effected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster of 1986, leaving G home alone to fend for himself. As he has never given us any cause for concern, we agreed to allowing him have a few friends round for supper one evening. I appreciate that this could be looked on as the height of folly, but G is a good lad and mindful of our home……

We returned to England the evening following the night that the gathering had occurred tired and travel weary, expecting to find our home neat and tidy to the standard of a seventeen year old. At what point did he think we wouldn’t notice the broken certificate frame, the glass that had been attempted to be flushed down the toilet, the alcohol that had been liberally sprayed around all four walls in the kitchen and poured behind the radiator which, when the heating came on, made our home smell like a brewery? The kitchen stool was stuck to the floor where the sticky beverages had glued it down! The walls had been sprayed with alcohol in the dining room and most of our alcohol consumed by ‘a few friends’ that had apparently thrown up all over the walls and floor of the upstairs toilet……

The more we looked, the more we found. Contrite, G confessed to having more than 20 people for supper and, having had a few drinks himself, had no recollection of what had happened or how many had stayed overnight in our absence. Understandably there will be no repeat allowances made for any of our children no matter how many assurances they offer to the contrary. G thought he had cleaned everything up really well and he confessed that, as we found more and more evidence of wild goings on, “I can see that I haven’t done enough as I now look at it through your eyes…

What we think is perfect is often far from it; not only how we view ourselves on a personal level, but also in what we do or allow to happen. As more evidence comes to light of pollution we have created in our seas, with the dangers of the tonnes of plastic waste damaging the marine environment and the destruction of forests and land to further our monetary desires, I wonder sometimes if the eyes of the Architect of this world are saddened by just how far we have moved from intended perfection.

To love oneself, warts and all, is a hard task to perform and not one that many people achieve much success with. We all have our own little foibles or idiosyncratic differences, making us individual and unique. It is in the acceptance of our own distinctiveness that we find we are failed creatures. We can never be perfect no matter how hard we try to be. The harder we attempt the impossible, the further we prove our own failings. I am flawed. In my own singularity I am a representative of everything that isn’t what the commercial world cries out for.

But in this poor exemplification of humanity, that will never be the tallest, fittest, fastest, strongest, sharpest, most handsome (or pretty depending on which side you’re standing), resides a spark. It is sometimes a weak spark that glimmers like a solar light as dusk falls in the garden of my heart. It is sometimes a strong spark when confronted with injustice or bias against those who need support. It is sometimes a spark that goes thermonuclear when pushed to deal with the unpleasantness that rears up and threatens to destroy all I hold dear.

This perfect spark, resident within each of us, can be called many things but we all have it. Some might know it as the voice inside us, or conscience, or scales of justice for equality. This is what makes each one of us truly perfect. A perfect example of the diverse world in which we live, where we can be proud of our natural state and natural abilities so that we can live and work happy contented lives together, on this beautiful planet we call home.

According to G’s friends, he threw the perfect party! I beg to differ……

Carry on regardless!


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