In a world full of criticisms, judgment, and discrimination, people often feel insecurities and contentment, and it all boils down to hating yourself. As everyone continues to sexualize women, degrade self-worth, and besmirch beauty standards, loving yourself is slowly becoming extinct. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen‘s discussion goes deep into disregarding the standards imposed on us by society and instead pay more attention to what makes us comfortable, special, and powerful. They also discuss the dangers of social media that push many individuals to sell themselves short and believe that looking old means being desired less by the public. After all, we do not owe anything to other people, so why should their unwarranted opinions oppress our decisions and ideals?
Listen to the podcast here:
How Perfectionism Leads To Hating Yourself
One thing I reflect a lot on is our tendency as human beings in this digital age and way before that. This is not a new thing for us. It is our fear of other people’s judgments about our appearance. I’ve witnessed off and on for as long as I can remember people talking poorly about themselves because they’re anticipating that somebody is going to think poorly about them. It’s almost like, “Let me announce my insecurities before you catch them because. Maybe if I can tell you that I know I’m not perfect, then it’ll prevent me from being judged by you.” I was witnessing this with someone that I was going to do video recording with who said that they weren’t sure about being on camera because they looked haggard. This is before they even turn their camera on. Before I could even have a chance to look at them as human beings, they were setting me up for this expectation that they didn’t look good.
I’m fascinated by this because most of us struggle with these insecurities about our appearances. It’s something that I want to be more vocal about. I was thinking about how we judge each other for our ages. We either think that we’re old or we think that we’re young. We like to point out when we are talking to someone who’s younger than us or older than us. We do many things to try to prevent age from appearing on our bodies, from dying our hair to using face creams, getting surgeries, wearing makeup, the clothes and accessories we use, the filters and the Photoshop, and all of these different things that we do to manipulate ourselves. I think a lot about this in the context of being a content creator.
One big thing is how as I get older, I start to get gray hairs. My first gray hair I got in 2012, but it was years. I spotted it and then I didn’t see any others for a while. They slowly started to come in. Everybody gets gray hairs at different ages. It has lots to do with genetics, from what I understand. Some people get gray hair when they’re young. Gray hair isn’t necessarily an indication that you’re getting older. Culturally, many of us have this big fear that people are going to see and perceive us as old, so we want to hide it. I’ve been thinking a lot about as I get more gray hairs, “If they become super noticeable, will I want to dye my hair?” Deep down inside, I don’t want to. I’ve never liked dying my hair.
Back many years ago, I was doing it for stylistic choice. I liked playing around with it. When I was in my teens, I would do it because I enjoy experimenting. It was fun to get the DIY boxes at home. There was also this one spray that you could put on your hair that would lighten it. It was fun but even back then, it was also thinking about, “How am I going to look best? What can I do to make myself look pretty?” When I was in my early twenties, I would go and get my hair professionally dyed, but then I felt irritated because I didn’t like it when the roots started showing because I would have to go and get it redone. I was like, “Forget it. This is too much of a pain.”
I don’t want to go to the hair salon every two months. I only get my hair cut on average every nine months. I waited the longest amount of time until I can’t take it anymore. My last haircut was on March 3rd of 2020, and we’re doing this on February 13, 2021. I’m starting to feel like it’s time for me to go in. Even that, I was thinking about, “Who says it’s time?” I can easily hide my split ends these days. Why does it even matter?
I had done a video with Facebook and it got shared around a lot. In that video, I had long hair. I don’t know if I had split ends. When I showed my mom this video, she was like, “Great, but your hair looks long.” I forget what comment she made, but it was some comment about my hair not looking stylized. I remember feeling insecure about my hair for a little while after that. It comes up a lot. I think about my hair from time to time. I’m only thinking about it in the context of how somebody else views me. I’m only thinking of it in terms of my fear of judgment, and this whole idea of wanting to present myself in the best light.
Deep down inside, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care what color my hair is, how long it is, whether I have split ends. It doesn’t have to look perfectly shiny and styled. I don’t care about my eyebrows. I don’t care about all of this shit that we’ve been trained to care about. When it comes to age, all of these fears around getting wrinkles, and the length at which women and men in some cases will go to hide or fight against their wrinkles. From expensive creams to surgeries, to botox, whatever we can possibly do to try to pretend we’re not getting older as if getting older is some curse.
This episode isn’t just about age, it’s about our general fears and insecurities around the way that we look and how other people perceive us. I want to start off by saying, why do we care so much? Why do we spend so much money and time trying to change ourselves? Why do we say such negative things about our appearances that other people might not perceive at all? It’s almost as if we’re trying to control other people’s minds and opinions on us or it’s both. We’re either trying to get them to think better about us, or we’re pointing out what’s bad about us that they probably wouldn’t have noticed if we hadn’t pointed it out. How does that even serve us?A lot of great jokes come from pain. Click To Tweet
I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy for a lot of reasons, and so is my girlfriend, Laura. We watch a lot of stand-up and she’s turned me on to a lot of great stand-up comedians. One of the things that we’ve talked about is how a lot of great jokes come from pain. To your point, at the beginning of this show, you talked about how people announce the things that they are insecure about so that other people don’t point them out. In some ways, there are two sides to the coin. In relation to stand-up comedians, some of the funniest stand-ups are self-deprecating about how they look and their appearance.
On one side of it, it is based on pain. It’s based on being made fun of for a long time. I had a joke in my first stand-up set, which you’ve been to a lot of my stand-up shows over the years. When I was doing the circuit for 2.5 years, one of my jokes was that I looked like the love child of Gonzo, the Muppet and Gerard Depardieu because I have a big nose and big nostrils. This was one of the jokes that I was working into my set from time to time. It’s based out of pain. One of the things with my physical appearance, not so much now but especially when I was younger, was my nose. I do have an unusual looking nose. It’s been broken. There’s a slight bump in it. I have larger nostrils than the average person. I was mercilessly teased for my nose when I was a little kid. I got self-conscious about it to the point that when I was a freshman in high school, I remember talking to my mom about getting a nose job. I considered it for a few years. For three years, I think I’m going to get a nose job because I was relentlessly teased about it.
When I do my stand-up and I make jokes about my appearance, it’s based out of pain. It’s partially what you said about announcing it first before anyone else points it out. For me, it’s also taking back my power. That’s also a part of it. If I own the fact that I have a “big nose,” and I’m okay with it, and I can make fun of it, it takes the power away from some other person going, “Your nose is so big.” There are two sides to it, but it is coming out of a place of pain and being ridiculed for something. What this highlights is the oppression of standards. You and I have talked about this in previous episodes of how women and people who identify as women are subjugated to their value and worth based on their physical appearance. Men are too because I remember as a young man looking at things like Men’s Health Magazine and seeing, “Get six-pack abs in two weeks, and please her in bed all night long.” It’s not just women, it’s men too. Are you sexually satisfying your partner? Are you looking good? Are you adhering to the beauty standards of society? We’re oppressed to look a certain way.
I want to go back to something and this isn’t to take you, Whitney, to the task at all. It’s not to see if you’re going to follow through with this. That’s not what I’m about to say. What I’m about to say is more of a curiosity thing. When you said, “I don’t give a fuck,” and you were saying, “My eyebrows are a little bit bushier and I haven’t cut my hair in nine months, and I don’t care.” My interpretation of it is similarly too. I let my beard grow long. It’s patchy. Sometimes there are days when I don’t even comb my hair. I’ve worn the same T-shirt for three days straight. I’m not wearing deodorant and I don’t care. The reason I’m bringing this up for you and for me is we can talk about this when we’re still in COVID and we’re still in quarantine. I’m curious if the attitude you’re bringing up for yourself of not giving a fuck is going to translate when and if we do something like Expo East where typically, you and I do dress differently. We present ourselves in a certain way. Is this not giving a fuck attitude going to translate when the world opens back up, and we’re doing more professional public events? Do you think you’re going to be able to carry that energy into those types of experiences?
To be clear, when I say “I don’t give a fuck,” it doesn’t mean that I’m not doing some of those things. I do still wear makeup. Sometimes I use filters. For example, it’s hard to do videos without feeling insecure about the way I look. It’s nice to use features like Zoom where they have built-in filters that smooth out your face. It’s not that I don’t do those things and it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that deep down, I understand that it doesn’t matter. That’s the differentiation and why I want to bring this up. We have been programmed and conditioned, and it sucks. For all of my life, I’m like, “This is all bullshit,” this whole desire to manipulate ourselves and try to please others.
As a woman, there’s a lot of pressure on it. I often think about, have women been completely manipulated to adjust their appearances as sexual objects? I was looking at some new pictures of the Kardashians because somebody on TikTok had pointed out this one picture of Kendall Jenner. It looks like she might have Photoshopped herself, but it’s hard to tell because she’s a tiny, thin person. She’s very skinny. This picture makes her legs look long. Her torso looks long and she’s got like zero fat on her body. I saw it and immediately thought, “She must have Photoshopped this,” but then you can see these videos of her behind the scenes. I’m like, “Maybe she does look that way.”
It doesn’t matter necessarily if she looks that way. Unfortunately, a lot of women look at pictures like that, regardless of if it’s Photoshopped or not and think like, “I want to look like that too.” I then think about, why are women like the Kardashians so popular? For many of us, whether we fully realize it or not, those are our cultural beauty standards. Those women speculated that they have had a lot of work done on their bodies. They have a lot of money. They have a whole team of people working on them. Beauty is generally very expensive and thus inaccessible. First of all, there’s a huge divide behind celebrities who it’s their business to look that good. Sadly, by looking that good all the time and having access to looking that good all the time, whether it’s digitally altered or not, at least in the States. In the US, that is the beauty standard.
Logically, unless we constantly check in with ourselves and recognize that that’s not accessible or desired. Even if I had a lot of money, do I want to sit down in a chair and have someone do my makeup and hair every day? Probably not. It seems like a complete waste of my time. What is the point of it? It’s the big question for me. The other side of it is I was thinking about them, but also there’s this music video that Ariana Grande put out and I was watching it. It’s sexualized. A lot of the big music stars now, all they’re doing is talking about sex and it’s cool. All these girls look up to these women and the outfits they’re wearing. In TikTok, everybody is showing their ass and their tits. They’re wearing this scandalous clothing.
I’m not saying this to be prude because I personally think whatever expression of yourself you want to do is great. We have to look at the reasons why. Are we truly choosing it as a women’s empowerment thing? Have we been conditioned to believe that’s empowering when we’re manipulated to be sex symbols for men’s entertainment? When you see documentaries like Free Britney. Was she being manipulated her entire career to be a Lolita type when she was younger, and then to be this big sex symbol. Was she choosing that or was somebody choosing that for her? She got so much attention, money, and success from it that it felt good. That’s the big thing too.
The other documentary that we’re going to be discussing soon on the show is Childhood 2.0. In that documentary too, they talk about what’s popular on social media. It’s generally girls who are showing off their bodies. Are they doing it because they feel empowered, or are they doing it because that gets them more likes and attention? The other side of it, which we’ll discuss in that upcoming episode is that huge stigma we have where men want girls to send them photos or videos of them naked or in sexual acts, but then they’re shamed for it. There are punishment and judgment on all sides of this. It’s important that we step back and ask, what is this all for?We get called out when saying cruel things to others, but when you say cruel things to yourself, nobody seems to care. Click To Tweet
You bring up the dichotomy here because there are two sides to it. You nailed it. It’s doing these things under the guise of taking my power back, women supporting women, feminine empowerment on the one side, but then you see that there is very much a primarily white male-controlled capitalist system who is driving us to continue to reinforce the value that, “This is how I make money and this is my value in the world,” by continuing to reinforce these tropes and these stereotypes of the sexualization of women because that’s what we’re talking about. Can it be both? Yes, it can be both. I also think though that the danger in all this is when perhaps someone gets to a point where they no longer want to participate in that system anymore. To your point about age-ism, they get to a point that there’s a certain age where they believe they’re no longer desirable.
There was an interesting Saturday Night Live skit a few years back with Amy Poehler and some of the other actresses on Saturday Night Live called Last Fuckable Day. Amy Poehler went on to the media after this and said that it was hard. It brought up a lot of pain and shame for her because. In summary, it was these women saying that at a certain point in your 40s, that’s the last day you’re going to be fuckable, you’re going to be desirable. Amy Poehler was like, “It hit hard.” It hit way too close to home for her. It does reinforce this almost desperation, since we’re on this subject of being treated as a sex object that, “I better cash-in while I’m still desirable.” There’s a fear that someday, society will no longer value me anymore because I won’t be sexually desirable anymore. All of the beauty standards, the cosmetic surgery, and everything we’re talking about, not for every woman but maybe for some people. It’s the subconscious desperation to stay desirable and sexually attractive because that’s how they make money. Maybe there’s someday where I won’t be desirable by society standards anymore. On the one hand, it could be empowerment, but there also could be a lot of desperation and fear behind it of, “I need to make bank on my appearance while I still can.” How does that land for you in terms of the age-ism and all of this?
Just as we created that reality for ourselves, we can take it away. We have to remind ourselves that we are playing into this and we do have power. It’s not going to change overnight. This is not like that simple, but it’s like social media. It has impacted us. There’s a lot of danger to it. If you’re not okay with those dangers, you can step away. It will have consequences. We talked about this in an episode with Toni Okamoto. It was in the joint episode with Michelle, where she’s talking about how there’s so much pressure in terms of our appearance. You might not get business opportunities if you don’t look or act a certain way. At the end of the day, deep down, I’m like, “Fuck people who don’t want to date me because of my age or appearance. Those are not for me.” I’m not saying I’m 100% there. I’m not saying that I haven’t done things to manipulate my appearance. Sometimes I do want to fit in like on Clubhouse. My photo is an edited photo of me. I like the way it looks better. I feel more confident with it.
I like the way it’s displayed. I played around with a few others and I was like, “No. I’m going to use this one.” In full acknowledgment, that it’s an edited photo of me. I do have an issue with that though. I hope that I can get to a point where I can proudly share and confidently share a photo of myself on those platforms, and not use it as a marketing tool for myself. I understand the reasoning. I understand the game. I understand why people choose to present themselves in a certain way, but deep down inside, I don’t want to do that. Deep down inside, I want someone to be able to see a photo of me or a video of me no matter how I look, and still appreciate me, take me seriously, respect me because that to me is freedom.
It is a cage, especially as all of us are getting older. None of us can escape age unless we die. All of us are on the same path. It impacts all of us. When you start manipulating yourself to a certain point, you are going to be stuck there for a long time unless you choose not to. It’s not like you can suddenly remove the filters and no one’s going to notice. At a certain point, it’s all or nothing. It’s getting worse and worse. That’s why you see some people that are older and they have had so much work done.
Another example that comes to mind is the woman from Dance Moms, Abby Lee. I don’t know how old she is, but let’s say she’s in her 50s. She got called out for using filters. She got angry at people for telling her not to use filters. She was like, “How do you think I feel if I want to post photos of myself on Instagram and I don’t feel comfortable not using a filter?” My point here is not to judge or shame people for using filters, getting work done, makeup, all of these things. That is a personal choice. The issue that I have is how that degrades our self-worth. The issue that I have is when we don’t feel confident because of how we look. I also have an issue with the cruelty that we say to ourselves.
On the Clubhouse, Randi Zuckerberg. I barely even know about her, but I’m assuming based on her last name that she’s Mark Zuckerberg’s sister. She came on Clubhouse and was being interviewed by Daymond John, the CEO of FUBU who’s known for being on Shark Tank. He was welcoming her to Clubhouse as we often do on that platform. Lewis Howes, a big podcaster, popped in and was asking her questions. I thought one of her best answers was that she doesn’t talk kindly to herself. She was very transparent in admitting it. She’s like, “The things I say to myself are sad because I will beat myself up so much and call myself all sorts of names.”
When somebody says those things, it’s relatable, but it’s still acceptable. That’s the other issue I have here. It’s acceptable to say cruel things to ourselves. It’s unacceptable for many of us to say cruel things to others. We will get called out. We will get canceled, but when you say cruel things to yourself, nobody seems to care. They’re like, “Cool, beat yourself up all you want.” I want to see that stop. I don’t want to say cruel things to myself. What is the point and the purpose? Even worse, to publicly announce that? I’m not trying to hide it and trying to change it. I don’t want to say it out loud to others. I don’t want to say it quietly to myself internally.
I wish that more people would be kinder to themselves because it’s a huge part of our mental well-being. It has many ripple effects that we can dive into here is that when we talk poorly about ourselves, we limit ourselves in a lot of ways. We self-sabotage and we also might start to act out towards others because that self-hatred hurts. That self-hatred is not a good emotion to be carrying around with yourself all day, every day. That is sometimes part of the reason that we are cruel to others, humans and animals. That’s why we say we don’t give a fuck because we’re unhappy. Why does anything matter?
That’s also why we love tearing down other people. It’s because when we are well aware that we hate ourselves, it feels good to see somebody else’s downfall, which is a huge issue. It’s like, I hate myself. What if I know somebody else hates themselves or what if I know that somebody else hates somebody else? How can we collect more hate? How can we collect more misery so we don’t feel alone? It’s the misery loves company thing. It’s a huge issue, but yet it’s also culturally acceptable.Unfortunately, when we are well aware that we hate ourselves, it feels good to see somebody else's downfall. Click To Tweet
I’m curious when Randi Zuckerberg talked about this in Clubhouse, how did people like Daymond, Lewis, and moderators respond to that comment?
I don’t remember. That’s the only thing I remember from it.
There wasn’t like this big empathetic, relatable, “I can relate to it.”
I wasn’t paying that close attention, to be honest. I just heard that part, and then I left shortly afterward.
My curiosity in all of this is for a lot of people who are famous, popular, wealthy and influential, there’s a reticence in a lot of people to admit things like this. It’s awesome that Randi Zuckerberg talked about this. My curiosity would be to see how her contemporaries or her peers or moderators responded to the comment. You’re right on, Whitney, in the sense that if we are having an internal life of self-immolation and flagellation, and being punitive and hateful toward ourselves, that’s going to color our interactions with the world and other people. It has to.
This cycle of being cruel to ourselves makes us vulnerable to a lot of the marketing tactics we talk about on this show of people preying on our not-enoughness. A lot of marketers know this. They know that people feel awful about themselves. They know that people are looking to feel better about themselves, whether that’s course, clothing, a new car, more makeup, surgery, any of the things we’re talking about. I’m saying this with compassion because I have beaten myself up badly for a long time. I can relate to the desire to fill the void inside of myself with something external, something material, something that is going to make me feel better about myself. In my personal experience, the $500 jacket, brand-new car, $5,000 course, and whatever it is, it’s like a drug high for a little while. You do feel better for a little while.
It’s like, “I’ve got this cool new thing and I feel better about myself.” If the baseline of your condition behavior is being cruel to yourself, those things are not going to take away the mechanism that is driving you to be mean to yourself. A Lamborghini, Fendi bag, hair plugs, and a nose job are not going to suddenly change the voice in your head that says, “I’m a piece of shit.” It might make it worse in some cases, in the sense of like, “Why do I deserve all this?” That’s a big part of it too. If someone is unkind to themselves and suddenly they find success, material, wealth, fame, there can be a dangerous offshoot that’s even beyond imposter syndrome of, “I don’t deserve this shit. Why do I have this stuff?” It doesn’t make you feel better about yourself in the long run.
Ultimately, this is how a lot of our commerce works in this world. It’s the illusion that the new shiny object or shiny object syndrome is going to suddenly change your relationship to yourself. Things don’t change your relationship to yourself. To your point, the question then is, how do we be kinder to ourselves? For me, since this is something endemic to my personal growth and personal journey, I’ve had to come up with pattern interrupts, and also looking at where that voice comes from. I’ve had therapists ask me, “Where do you think that voice in your head comes from of you’re not good enough, you’re a piece of shit, you should do better, whatever permutations of that voice?” I’ve thought a lot about that because it wasn’t anything parental. My mom and even my father, even though I have had a strange relationship with him, there was never any language directly of, “You’re not good enough. You’re a bad kid.”
That voice is something that is trying to protect me. That voice exist because it’s this idea of, “You don’t feel good enough.” We hear this conversation about greatness , to bring up Lewis, this idea of the school of greatness, be greater, be better, be up, and all of these messages. For me, the cruelty in my head is, “If you make more money and you’re more successful and people value you, you’ll never be abandoned.” If you’re in a Clubhouse room and you have 5,000 people and they are listening to you, you’re so valuable. You’ll never fail. You’ll never be abandoned. You’ll never be ignored again. If a lot of people were super honest about it, and I’ve said this before in different ways, their relentless drive to succeed and win is based out of trauma.
“I’ll feel successful when I have this amount of money, this amount of followers, this level of fame, I’ll never be hurt again, I’ll never be abandoned.” This desire for nondisturbance in our lives, “Once I have everything in order, I’ll never be fucked with again.” My internal cruel voice is trying to protect me and I’ll have conversations with that voice in my head of like, “I don’t need your protection. I know what you’re trying to do right now. I know that you’re trying to protect the scared wounded little boy inside of me, but I don’t need your help in this way.” I have to sit down and have verbal conversations with these voices in my head because if I don’t, they will run the show.
Part of it is getting to the core of why we talk so cruelly to ourselves. If there’s an awareness around it that I’m still working on it, then how can I talk to this part of my psyche and say, “It’s okay. I don’t need you to keep me safe. I don’t need you to somehow inoculate me against the pain of the world by getting all this stuff.” It’s one of the biggest things in therapy for me. It’s hard when you’ve had a mechanism for decades of your life thinking this is going to be the thing that’s going to protect you, and then realizing that shit doesn’t protect us. It takes a lot to undo it.
Thank you so much for sharing that because this is such an important conversation and it’s not easy. The steps towards making these shifts start with awareness. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “That’s me,” which is probably what everybody reading is going to say. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who feels 100% great about themselves. I would love to meet someone like that. If you are one of those people or you know one of those people, please let me know because I’d be very curious. There are people that are closer to it, at peace at it, are practiced at it, and then there are some people who are good at hiding it.
The aim for me is not to hide it. The aim is to shift it because hiding it from other people still doesn’t serve me. I’m just pretending. People perceive you and me like we’re confident. We have a podcast. We have a YouTube channel and Instagram. They hear me on Clubhouse and they perceive me as whatever. I don’t even know because I’m not the person perceiving me, but I’ve got comments like that especially through Clubhouse. Clubhouse is a skill of mine. Speaking is a skill. We’ve also recorded almost 200 episodes. Skills are made over time. We’ve been in thousands of YouTube videos and TV shows, and the things that you and I have done, Jason, and for any of the readers or anybody who sounds skilled, it’s a practice. You can go back to the early stages of my YouTube channel. You’ll see I have not always been this way. We have not always been great with our show if you read the first few episodes. It’s an evolution. I saw this TikTok about The Simpsons and it was so well done. It was a picture of the very first season of The Simpsons. Jason, I don’t know if you remember this. It was like 1989 or something that they came out.It's healthier to have ideas of how we want to be in the world rather than perfection. Click To Tweet
Totally, I’m The Tracey Ullman Show.
You can look it up or you can watch this TikTok. They show that as compared to where The Simpsons are now in 2021, after all the seasons of developing these characters and their appearance. The point of this video was to start doing something even if you feel like it looks like shit. That is phenomenal business advice because part of this challenge that we’re discussing is not just about our personal life. People are terrified to show their imperfections in their business because they’re so afraid of being judged.
You hear this too, “My product isn’t perfect. I know.” People immediately want to tell you their imperfections constantly. That vulnerability is wonderful. It’s not that I don’t like vulnerability. I want to hear tons of vulnerability. When you put an idea in somebody’s head before they even have a chance to develop the idea for themselves, that’s so manipulative on some level. It’s like, “Let me make sure you know it’s not perfect. Let me decide for myself because my definition of perfect could be different.” What if my perception of you is full appreciation and love and respect? What if I don’t see any imperfection? A lot of the times, we make it worse by pointing out imperfections because we’re injecting that into somebody’s mind.
It doesn’t help if somebody comes to you and says, “Your drawing for your TV show looks a little rough around the edges.” Is that something that you’re opening to changing as The Simpsons artists? Who knows back in 1989, the standards are very different. My point being is I’m sure they were aware that it wasn’t perfectly done. It takes so much work to do things that sometimes something has to go. It’s incredible to see how things evolve and for us to give each other a chance to evolve. The other is true too when it comes to our appearances. If we can start to shift our perceptions of age, if we can shift and have more grace for the fact that people don’t always wear makeup, don’t always brush their hair, and get their hair cut, don’t always have great clothes on. Don’t always have fresh, clean clothes on, all of these standards.
Most people have had a point in their life where they’re wearing dirty clothes, had unbrushed and uncut hair, weren’t wearing makeup, didn’t brush their teeth, all of these little checkboxes we have for our standards of appearance. Most of us look like that or have gone through that at some point in our lives so we can all relate to it. Why can’t we just be accepting that somebody is going to be looking different at different points? What if we start putting pictures of celebrities without makeup in magazines and saying, “They’re just like us.” In a way that’s cool, but part of the point is to make somebody feel better by showing a bad picture of somebody who is fucked up.
Also, knowing that in all these different phases of our businesses, we will go through perceived highs and lows. The Simpsons, their animation might have drastically improved, but perhaps their storyline is not nearly as good as it was in 1989. The opposite can be true too. That’s about age. That’s about getting worn out. That’s about doing a lot of things and lacking creativity. Ultimately, it’s about our deep fears of being judged for not being perfect and our delusional ideas of what perfectionism is, which we never achieve. We end up beating ourselves up all the time because of this bizarre idea of perfection. If we can never achieve it, then why are we chasing after it with so much desperation?
That’s a good question. Why are we chasing perfection? There’s a lot to that. There’s a lot to the idea of maybe confusing ideals with perfectionism. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot. There’s a lot of confusion with those two terminologies. For me, and a lot of people may get those two things confused as being synonymous, having an ideal in your mind and a standard of perfection. I want to make a distinction with how I’m thinking about this when I get into perfectionistic thinking. For me, it’s having an ideal in my mind’s eye is much more healthy and sustainable than chasing some idea of perfect. Here’s what I mean by it and this is my own take on it. An ideal is not necessarily for me something that exists in reality or maybe it is. Maybe an ideal for me would be, “I want to be as compassionate, unifying, action-oriented, and minimalist as the Mahatma Gandhi.”
I want to lead with that level of compassion and love. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to be perfect, compassionate, and loving in every moment. It’s not this perfect state of, in every human interaction, I need to open my heart and be compassionate. Is it an ideal that I strive for? Yes. Is it something that if I’m chasing perfection and I need to be like Gandhi as an example, that I’m going to beat myself up when I’m discompassionate or I say something cruel to someone? Perfection is different in the sense that we have something that’s more material and concrete of, “I need to look a certain way, be a certain way, have a certain thing, then I’ll be fully loved and accepted.” To me, an ideal could be looking at someone like Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad or one of the saints. I’m using all of these religious or spiritual examples. To me, it’s healthier to have an ideal of how we want to be in the world rather than perfection, which to me feels much more tied to appearance, material possessions, position, and status in the world.
Whereas an ideal in my mind is more about how I want to show up regardless of how I look, my material possessions, my status. Ideals feel much more sustainable to me in how I’m trying to conduct myself. When I see a person that I deeply admire, and I want to be more like that person, it’s not about trying to be exactly like them, but seeing how they show up in the world and seeing how I can more embody that. Does that make sense, the differentiation between the two? I feel like ideals are something that feels more grounded to me, whereas perfectionism feels like an endless chase. We get those messages from celebrities. LeBron James, as an example, talks a lot about how he’s chasing Michael Jordan. He wants to win as many titles as Michael Jordan. He wants to surpass Michael Jordan.
In different industries, we talk about the whole chase for making more money and being the biggest corporation in the world. In the ‘90s and 2000s, the car company Lexus, their tagline was, “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” That always pissed me off even as a kid. I’m like, “There’s no such thing as a perfect car. That’s so subjective.” I remember one brand, that was their thing. They don’t use it anymore, but they did for years, “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” Perfect as a concept is a completely subjective evaluation. There is no objective perfection. Your idea of a perfect body or a perfect home life or a perfect relationship is different than mine and different than our parents. There’s no such thing as absolute perfection. It’s a word that I would like to delete from my vocabulary. I don’t even want to use the word anymore because I feel it’s valueless. I don’t feel the word perfection has any value to me unless we’re talking about it in a referential context like this, but colloquially in my day-to-day life, and we think about it, how subconsciously we use it like, “That’s perfect.” We use it all the time, but to me, it’s a throw-away word. There’s no such thing.
The other point I want to make since we brought up LeBron James, I was watching a basketball game, the Lakers game, and noticing how LeBron’s hair has changed over the years. In his early days, LeBron was starting to go bald and he had some hair treatment that has restored his hair. His hair is different now. It the same thing with Elon. We talk about Elon Musk a lot. If you look back at the early days when Elon found X.com and PayPal and sold it, there’s an interesting video of him buying his first McLaren F1 on YouTube and he was losing his hair. He was going completely bald. A few years later when he re-emerged and sold PayPal, all of a sudden, he had hair again.
I’m bringing this up because first of all, men are very much subjected to attractive sexual attraction standards in the same way women are. There are physical attributes of masculinity, virility, strength, and sexual power, and hair is a big one of them. Why do hair plugs exist? Why do hair transplants exist? Why did someone like LeBron James or Elon Musk, two men that are worth billions of dollars decide to get these surgeries or whatever they got? You can see over the course of history, their hair has changed.
I bring this up because I had a moment in about a month into quarantine, the spring of 2020. I had an audition. My girlfriend, Laura, was helping me record this audition video. There was a part of the audition where I had to give them different angles of my body and my face. It was straight to the camera, reading the lines, doing the audition. They said, “Turn to your left, do a profile, turn to your right, do a profile and then show us the backside of you.” When I reviewed the video after we shot it before I submitted it, I had like a holy shit moment because when I turned around to the back shot of me, when they had me spin around, I said, “My hair is thinning.” I looked at my hair for the first time and had a holy shit moment like, “I might be going bald.” It’s fucked with me in 2020. It has fucked with my perception of my desirability, of feeling like I’m not going to be desirable anymore, I’m getting older as you were saying. It’s the first time I had a moment of, “I need to do something.”
I went on and bought a hair treatment. I’ve been using a hair growth treatment that I use every single night. I put it at the crown of my head. It seems to be working somewhat. I don’t know what the ultimate result is going to be. I’m saying this to go back to, I feel this pressure. I don’t want to lose my hair. It’s like, “Why don’t you want to lose your hair?” I’ve identified that my hair is some external social marker of youth, health, virility and sexual desirableness. If I lose this and I go bald, or I decide to shave my head, I’m suddenly not going to be valued as much or as attractive as much in society. There is a standard of virility and strength in men who have hair. There’s still a script in society about that. I bring up LeBron and Elon as two big examples in cultural figures of men who were losing their hair and spent however much they spent to get their hair back.
I’ve had moments of thinking if these hair treatments don’t work and the supplements I’ve been taking, and I talked to my hairstylist, Brandon about it. If this doesn’t work, would I get hair plugs? Would I get a hair transplant? Would I spend that money? If I did, would that be me capitulating to these manufactured standards of beauty, strength and desirability? I say that because I have not talked about this publicly at all. It’s something that’s been fucking with my sense of self in 2020 when I had that moment of, “I’m losing my hair.” It was a painful moment for me.
It’s interesting when you hear people that you care about say things like this because I don’t think about your hair at all. I don’t think less of you, but I don’t even notice. I remember a couple of years ago, Jason, that you were nervous about this photo I had taken of you where your forehead had wrinkles. I was like, “What the hell is he talking about?” First of all, I want to acknowledge you because certainly, I’m not trying to convince you otherwise. Your feelings are valid. Second of all, just a reminder to you and everybody, most of the people that care about you don’t notice those things or they do, but they don’t matter. I have not noticed. I noticed when your hair is big and bushy and out of sorts.
If somebody says, “Jason’s hair is thinning.” I’d be like, “No. I had no perception of that.” That’s a huge part of this discussion. A lot of these things, people don’t notice. The opposite can be true too. I have a scar on my face. I notice it every few years. I completely forget that I have a scar on my face because I’m used to seeing it. Some people say that we have no idea of our beauty because we’re looking at ourselves every single day. We’re so used to ourselves for better or for worse. We began to feel either bad about ourselves or very neutral. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately, a lot of this is based on capitalism.
If we can keep people feeling bad about themselves, they will buy products that their hair doesn’t thin. They will go and they will dye their hair, which costs a lot of money. I don’t even know what it is because I don’t dye my hair. If you’re going to go to a salon, it’s $150 or $200 or maybe more depending on where you go. It’s a lot of money to buy new clothes, and even washing your clothes can be expensive. All of this shit is expensive. If you’re going to a laundromat, they want you to go there frequently. If you’re buying a new washer and dryer, they want you to buy one that promises something. Washing your clothes is important. I’m not saying don’t wash your clothes, but I’m saying some people are afraid to wear a shirt twice in a row because what if somebody finds out that their shirt was worn multiple times.
Is that part of this capitalistic mentality? It’s also like people don’t want to wear the same shirt in a photo twice. It’s so messed up. You respect people like Mark Zuckerberg who buy a ton of the same shirts. I don’t know if Mark does this for sure, but I’m sure people like him, a lot of entrepreneurs are like, “I’ll buy twenty of my favorite shirt and wear that all the time. It takes the pressure off.” That’s it about owning the things. Also on TikTok, you can get lost in all of this. Now, skinny jeans are not in. I love skinny jeans. I’m going to fucking keep wearing skinny jeans. I don’t give a shit if I look old or fucking dumb. I specifically like skinny jeans with elastic in them, and also I’m not going to buy new jeans. I’m not going to spend new money for some fashion reasons. It’s dumb. I’m going to wear my clothes until they’re completely worn out and I can’t wear them anymore or they’re not comfortable or I personally don’t like the style. I’m not going to buy new clothes because somebody on TikTok told me it’s not in style anymore.
It’s so fucking insane. It’s outrageous. All of this. This is coming back to what I said in the beginning. Deep down inside, I don’t give a fuck. Sometimes I superficially give a fuck, but deep down inside, I don’t. All this appearance stuff. I just want to be left alone to look how I look, show up how I want to show up, be authentic to who I am. It’s much easier said than done. I don’t like getting camera ready for our video. I feel semi-confident. I did brush my hair, put on some makeup, and change my shirt because I felt more comfortable doing that. I might look back at this footage and beat myself up.
There’s this one video podcast that I can’t stand the way that I look at it. I’m terrified if someone is seeing it and being like, “She looks old. She looks chubby. She looks this or that.” That is so stupid because I want to put out videos. I want to fucking do it because I can’t assume that people are going to think one way or another about me, and I can’t control them no matter what they think. When we talk poorly about ourselves and make decisions based on our appearance, we are assuming how somebody is going to perceive us. We have no idea and no control. We might as well just show up however the fuck we want to.
That’s fantastic advice because, at the end of the day, we’re the ones living with ourselves and the voices in our heads. We’re not going to bed each night laying down with the people on social media or CEOs of these corporations or social media magnates. This all comes back down to our relationship with ourselves. For me, the word that comes through with what you said in this whole discussion is about liberating ourselves from these illusory standards, these ideas of perfectionism, of fitting in, of trying to be like everyone else. There are tremendous power and freedom in saying, “I don’t care anymore.”
That is one of the greatest positions of power, other than unconditional acceptance and love for oneself. Maybe then by proxy, extending that to others the concept of not caring what others think of us. Also to an extent, not caring about whatever embedded standards are inside of us independent of other people. The liberation that comes from saying, “I am going to practice,” because to your point, what we’re talking about sounds simple, but this is not easy. If this was easy, we’d have a world full of people who didn’t give a fuck, and would be completely independent, completely sovereign, and completely free, but we don’t. We have a world of almost eight million people. Many of which are struggling with self-worth, struggling with the perception of who they are, struggling with feeling good enough. It’s not like, “I’m going to go to a weekend seminar and feel good.”
This is years of hard work to unravel what we’re talking about. It’s some of the most important work that we need to do on this planet. To your point, Whitney, there’s a deep peace that I’m starting to feel more of. The more that I let go and stop giving a fuck and just accepting who I am, it’s hard. The hair thing for me is tough and it’s a deep one. It’s good though because it’s giving me a lot of practice to say, “Whether I have or don’t have hair, it doesn’t make me less lovable and less valuable.” I have to remind myself almost every single day of that.
The repetition, practice, and experimentation are the foundations that Whitney and I are trying to strive for and have those ideals of loving and accepting ourselves. That’s an ideal. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect at it. To tie this up, maybe in a bow at the end of this episode, we’re not trying to perfectly love ourselves. We’re not trying to be perfectly accepting of ourselves at all times, but it’s ideal to liberate ourselves, to be more self-accepting, and to stop giving a fuck. These are deep ideals that are extremely valuable for the human experience.
With that, we have an upcoming episode as Whitney teased at the very beginning of Childhood 2.0. Whitney has already seen it. She had some “oh shit” texts that she sent to me. I’m going to watch it and we’re going to be back in another episode where we’re going to do a deep dive and an analysis of this documentary. I’m excited about it because I hope that I’m going to learn more about the neurological biochemical benefits of how this is reshaping a childhood, changing children’s brains, and changing their emotional wellness. This is something that we’re both becoming incredibly passionate about.
If you want to dive into any of the deeper research of our episodes, you can go to our website, Wellevatr.com. If anything we mentioned resonates with you, if you are feeling this conversation of not-enoughness, you’re trying to liberate yourself, you can always shoot us an email. It’s [email protected]. We love those personal emails. It’s one of the things that keeps us going when we get those heartfelt, deep, raw emails from you. If anything vibes with you, you want to have a conversation, you want to bounce anything off of us and have a real human-supportive conversation, shoot us an email. We’re always available for you. With that, thanks for not only getting uncomfortable with us but thanks for holding space for a lot of the uncomfortable shit we share from our own lives. It’s painful and scary sometimes to share some of the things we do, but I ultimately feel that in doing so, by all of us doing so, we’re healing the collective and the entire human experience. We love you. We appreciate you. Thanks for reading and supporting us. We’ll see you soon.
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- Friendly Vegan: An Amicable Way to Spread the Message of Veganism with Toni Okamoto – Previous episode
- Randi Zuckerberg
- YouTube – This Might Get Uncomfortable
- Instagram – Wellevatr
- [email protected]
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!