Monday, January 17, 2011

Who's Behind the Mask?

Many young females hide behind a mask of sexiness. While it seems that for some this behavior is natural to a degree, when a person becomes defined only by their sexuality or ability to appear sexy, they are generally hiding their true selves out of shame or fear. Such people are often decried as sluts, thinking that they are better than other women. In reality, many of them don't think very highly of themselves at all.

Some people hide behind a mask of intelligence or ability. He/she is the one who can do it all and do it perfectly. Such a veneer may be hiding a great deal of insecurity. Perfectionism is unhealthy and leads to severe anxiety. Perfectionists tend to secretly dislike themselves. There is a strong connection between perfectionism and suicide attempts/completed suicides.

Lafayette Reynolds is a character in the True Blood television program. Lafayette is always "on." He is a caricature of the fabulous gay man. In one of the more recent episodes, he appears without his flawless makeup. 
Gay people, particularly men, have been taught to feel ashamed of who they are. There are a lot of beautiful, fabulous gay men in this world. Like Lafayette, many of them hide their insecurities behind a mask of flamboyance.

Fashion guy/gal hides behind his/her own mask of perfection. He or she wouldn't be caught dead in anything but the latest styles. His/her authenticity is hidden behind an obsessive need to look a certain way. Such people tend to fear that appearing to be anything less than perfect will reveal all their terrible imperfections, and they will be ostracized.

Per Yngve Ohlin was a real person who hid his severe emotional pain behind the mask of a dark persona known as Dead. This intimidating mask was so convincing that there are those who continue to believe that it revealed, rather than hid, the person behind it. Such people believe this individual to be some sort of an icon of "evil." To me, he is the face of psychological anguish. He committed suicide in 1991 at the age of 22. 

Some people (like me) wear baggy, non-descript clothing so nobody will look at them. Sometimes they will also gain weight for the subconscious reason of protecting themselves from being sexualized. For various reasons, I find sexualized attention very unnerving, and no, it is not "cute" when I (or anyone else) get upset about it. Many people who hide in bulky clothes were sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Anyone who takes delight in making them feel more insecure is a douche.

Some people, particularly girls and young women, desexualize themselves by starving, taking on the physique of a child. Anorexics are often perfectionists. They believe themselves to be ultimately flawed and fight a dangerous battle to bring themselves to a perfection that they can never achieve. Many people die from anorexia every year. 
The model in this picture is French actress Isabelle Caro. She is 27 years old and has been very open about her struggles with anorexia. She is five foot five and weighs just 70 pounds.

Conversely, I am five foot five and weigh 270 pounds.

There are those who would see fit to condemn both Isabelle and me--her for starving herself to dangerous thinness, me for my perceived gluttony. But not knowing either of us--not knowing our pain, our reasons for putting on the masks that we have put on--what would give you the right to do so?

We are all suffering. Would it not be better to support rather than hate one another?

What mask do you wear? What do you fear being revealed if you take it off?