Not only did it break men and women into different sub-species, but made claims that women’s bodies don’t process food types like men’s do, and that the food choices you make will determine the “masculinity” or “femininity” of your body. I’ll let you argue the insane nuances of this at your leisure. This sparked me to write something much more positive in response.
Below are only some ways our environment shapes our outlook on things.
1. Your visual environment
The human form has been glorified since the beginnings of visual material; we go to museums to see sculptures of Adonis-like men, and Aphrodite-like women; we see paintings of models languidly spread across furniture and landscapes; we see imagined perfection at all corners. In the modern world we’re exposed to snapshots of perceived beauty—painted faces and sheer clothing. We see tragedies and puppies in pickle costumes.
Have you ever wondered how this affects you? Do you get envious of a friend whose features are different than yours? Or the things they buy, the things they do?
Every day the choices you make regarding your visual environment play a key role in your wellbeing. From my experience, my female clients have been more vocal about their dissatisfaction at their appearance. And the female clients who’ve shown the most dissatisfaction were the ones who allowed certain material into their lives every day. On the contrary, my male clients with expectations of their physique are influenced by other material where the men are pharmaceutically enhanced. And that vein, I’ll say this:
Perhaps one reason we’re unsatisfied with ourselves is due to what we allow ourselves to partake in. The Instagrams, Facebooks, ads in magazines and pop-culture; it’s all there to represent the most extreme form of beauty—so much so, they rely on technology, cosmetics, surgery, pharmaceuticals—and do we even know what reality is anymore?
2. Your reading material
If I chose to read material about fake moon landings and UFOs, I’d probably begin believing John Wilkes Booth was a time traveler that also shot JFK. I may also start believing the earth is flat (because don’t forget, if the earth is round, people would fall off.).
“People will believe something if they want it to be true, or are afraid it’s true.” (Wizard’s First Rule)
What we’re talking about here is policing what information you allow in—we should doubt all information we’re exposed to until we elucidate the truth—that is, if you want to have an informed opinion about Bigfoot’s existence or not.
So if you read something that completely swings one way (looking at you guys, PragerU and New Yorker), you may begin opening yourself up to confirmation bias, and closing your eyes to other possibilities.
3. Your auditory environment
A great many people grow up in abusive environments. Negative reinforcement has been proven not to work, yet humans gravitate towards it. Apparently, the louder you yell at someone, the more likely they are to listen (which is not the case). The more you make someone feel inadequate, the more endeared they are towards you (which is manipulation).
We can extrapolate a lot from this information. How easy is it to dwell in negative self-talk? Negative self-imagery? Allow your friends and family to say backhanded things? Sure, sometimes it’s funny. But at some level there’s always a shred of truth to it.
The more we hear something like this, the more we believe it. How many kids feel they can’t succeed because they’ve been conditioned to believe it? How many little girls feel they can’t do something because they were told it’s not what girls do? How many little boys grow up with emotional incontinence because “only girls cry”?
All these little people turn into limited big adults. And as big adults, we need to stop this cycle. We should accept challenges for what they are, and stop imagining impossibilities everywhere we turn. We shouldn’t let someone else’s existence dictate our possibilities, nor let the things they say become physical obstacles.
At the end of the day, we should hold higher expectations for ourselves. We should be stringent about what we let in—we should trust those wiser than us, but only until we ourselves surpass them-- which we can do, because even astronauts were kids with model spaceships, once.