No, You’re Not Perfect the Way God Made You.
I love this song. But I have a few things to say about it because it touches on an aspect of American culture that peeves me. The part about how everyone is perfect, unique, special in the best way, and how apparently self-development, whether physical or mental, should go fuck itself dead.
The song just touches on the issue and this isn’t a critique of Meghan Trainor or the song itself but rather the sentiment.
In the land of weight-loss obsessed America we see two methods popularly and ubiquitously displayed. The first method advertised is, ‘Eat whatever you want but buy our food because it is specifically formulated to make you thin.’ The second goes something like this: ‘Eat whatever you want but make certain you pop this pill once or twice a day.’ There is rarely if ever anything mentioning portion sizes or exercise. This is likely because taking care of your body is hard work, requires restraint, motivation and commitment.
There is one other popular commercial about weight-loss we see but this one is as irrelevant to the issue of health as the former two. It is the, ‘Go to the gym and get abs of steel and arms like Arnold not because it is good for you but because this is SEXY and SEXY is always best.’ This one plays to people’s vanity whereas the last two play to laziness and gluttony.
Like so many other opinions in America the ones about body and health linger only at the extremes. People either demand Madonna-like levels of gym attendance or they dismiss obesity entirely, claiming that nutrition and fitness are as superficial as the people that push them.
The reality is much simpler than either side would have us believe. The gym goers are dishonest about the health benefits of pumping iron and constant strenuous exercise of any kind. It is neither necessary nor necessarily good for you. Our fans of ‘body positivity’ are equally disingenuous, if not flat out delusional if they really believe that obesity doesn’t negatively impact health.
People never appreciate health until they lose it. We should be intrinsically motivated to eat healthy and exercise regularly, recognizing that in the present and long term the benefits are numerous. This doesn’t mean turning into Tayler Lautner or Twiggy. It does mean, however, that the only meaningful and long lasting way to maintain health is through commitment; not lying to yourself about circumstances totally within your control and throwing good sense to the wind with feel good tunes and pithy sayings like, ‘I’m perfect just the way god made me!’.
You are not, in fact, perfect. No one is. Your body and mind have imperfections and they always will. By any objective measure I’m sure I could find them. Some are, however, luckier or more hard-working than others. This brings me to my point about self-development.
As people we can always improve. The notion that you are perfect from birth, that bullshit peddled by Christians and moms everywhere, is crap. You can always self-improve. Learn a language. Write a book. Start a business. Eat healthier. Learn something new. Work on your interpersonal skills. Change.
People that believe they are perfect don’t change. They remain the same. They don’t learn from experiences, they don’t learn new skills, they don’t develop their personalities, interests, or understanding of the world. In essence they are infantile, lazy, and worst of all, boring.
Americans need to stop telling themselves it is okay to love yourself unconditionally. Unconditional love doesn’t exist, nor should it. We love people because of who they are, because of what they represent, because of what their behavior and ideas represent. If your son becomes a maniacal, axe-wielding rapist you’ll probably stop loving him. You may still love who he WAS, but not who he has become. You may stop loving your wife if she becomes and remains insanely racist, such an insufferable person would be difficult to stand by.
Finally, if you can’t get what you want you’ll have to appreciate what you already have. I forget who said that but it offers great insight into human psychology. Be honest with yourself so you don’t blind yourself to what is good for you.