You have to wonder what life was like before the mirror. Before we knew what we looked like we had to rely on other people to tell us what we looked like and if you stop and think about it, we’re still doing that right now. Yet before the mirror was invented I doubt if anyone was truly worried about how they looked in other people’s eyes. Certainly, our ancient ancestors who lived in caves and simple huts and tents adorned themselves with beads, flowers and shells and they likely painted each other’s faces. I suspect at that point in time societies defined beauty as something temporary and ornamental, not as something that was an intrinsic value of the person’s worth.
But even after the mirror was invented there had to be some sort of baseline established as to what beauty was. Fashion, and this addresses clothing not humans, very likely started us down the road to where we are. If a prince or princess wore a certain fashion then their subjects believed it was beauty. Does this sound strange to you? Then look at the clothes people wear these days and ask yourself why it is they are nearly all the same. Look at how clothes are sold. Look at where fashion has led us. We are told what to wear and we wear it.
Now, with the advent of cameras and television, we started to become obsessed with not just fashion but beauty. Now companies could market an ideal that could never be reached yet could always be strived for. Thinner models, bigger breasts, high cheek bones, and shiny hair were the secrets to the pinnacle of beauty and a multibillion dollar industry, as well as an impossible societal expectation, was born.
Then came computer generated graphics. We went from demanding women only look like a very few women who won the won the genetic lottery to demanding they look as if they were created by a machine, in effect leading us to desire a mate outside our own species. The women we have created with computers not only do not exist but they also force women to think very narrowly, very slimly if you will, as to what is possible if they want to be beautiful. Movies, television shows, and nearly all aspects of social media adhere to the ideal. Women are born into bondage, slaves to the idea their self-worth is defined by commercials and there are only a very limited number of them who will ever get close to it, by design. Men are trained to seek women whose looks define who they are and those incapable of attracting the butterfly to the flame are doomed circle the candle themselves.
But you very likely know all of this already, don’t you? I’m not telling you anything that you, and every woman born in America, doesn’t realize by the age of five. Certainly, by the age the hormones kick in, the shackles are in place and nearly everyone, male and female, devotes a certain amount of their lives to the False Goddess of Beauty.
Believe it or not, nothing I have to say to you has anything to do with fashion, beauty, photoshop, or whether or not clothes make the man. All of this is the very best example I can give you as to how you are trained to believe something. You are bombarded by it, immersed in it, and saturated with it, day and night, week in and week out. You believe because you see that everyone around you believes. This is the way that all species train their young; the young learn from those who are still alive to teach them how to survive. We have an instinct to copy the behavior of adults.
Stop right here for a moment and consider how you reacted to the story of children seeing people and things that no one else could see. Did the word “creepy” seem appropriate? Did you feel an uncertain unease with the idea there might be, slipping and sliding around you, some sort of other world that only kids could see? It might be harmful, right? It might be…ghostly. It might be something that isn’t fed to us by society and therefore not subject to being controlled or even controllable.
We’ve been told the spirits children might see, if they are not making it all up, are “ghosts” who are dead people returned from their graves and that is scary, right? But what if we’re wrong and we’ve always been wrong? What if these things children interact with are naturally occurring beings who are shaped and formed not by evil but by the children themselves?
Is this so very hard to believe? We’ve taken the wolf and turned it into a lap dog have we not? That’s quite a feat isn’t it? I have a dog that weighs in at over one hundred ten pounds that loves nothing better than to lie on top of me and be petted on a dog’s head. What seems more likely? Does the idea of a canine cousin of a wolf becomes as docile as can be seem more preposterous than a child making friends with some ethereal being who enjoys playing with the child?
So why only children?
Imagine, if you will, if someone told you they had an imaginary friend. If that person is a five years old it would be “cute” unless it was “creepy”. If someone twenty-five told you the same thing your reaction might be to wonder if this person is “hearing voices in their head”.
Children lack the preconceived notion of impossibility. Their play is as real to them as glamor magazines are to adults who sure as hell ought to know better than to think a woman weighing eight-five pounds is going to naturally support a D cup.
What they see, who they see, what they believe they are experiencing is real. It is part of the natural world that is around us even as we look in the mirror and wonder why Kate Upton isn’t looking back at us. Quite frankly, I think Kate might make a fairly boring imaginary friend, and it’s time more people thought so too.