Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes

Sometimes I like to imagine taking on a beauty protege and molding them in my image, teaching them all I know about beauty.

But I also know that beauty isn’t everything. It’s not an investment and if you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

The beauty game is a status game, a popularity game. And those are stupid games. Yes, people earn money “just off their looks.” But in order to get to a level of wealth where you have freedom and you are no longer renting out your time for money (and to recoup the monetary costs of buying makeup, spa days, etc), you have to be in the top 1%. Otherwise, you’ll just be constantly hemorrhaging your money, trying to keep up with the Kardashians and get into that top 1%. Or you have to marry well and I’m not going to espouse that as a strategy, it’s not the path to a fulfilling life and I know if I had followed that path, I would end up miserable and feeling like I haven’t done anything with my life.

Money isn’t a stupid prize. Money can lead to financial freedom. Having a lot of money and having financial freedom and independence are not the same though. We need money to survive. Which is why it’s not an entirely stupid prize. But looking good is not an investment.

Beauty brands sell expensive products as if they are “investments.” They have twisted the meaning of the word. The word has become watered down. People use it as if it means “pay more now, spend less later” or just to mean the price was worth it for the results of the product. That’s not an investment. An investment is an asset, something you own, that makes you money while you sleep. Investment means “pay more now, and get that money back and then some later.” Renting out real estate: buying that apartment complex is an investment. Owning a business is an investment- customers are buying online all hours of the day and night (notice I said owning, not running; if you have to be the one filling orders, you’re not earning while you sleep, you’re earning while you’re awake spending time filing orders. You want to own a business, not run a business, although both can be done simultaneously). The stock market is investments. The prices go up and down and if the company goes well, you get your dividends.

We want to be beautiful. We aspire to it. We think we’re not ugly, just poor, as the meme goes. And if only we were rich, we would then be beautiful. And if we were beautiful, then we would get the Good Prizes in life:
Love.
Belonging.
Acceptance.
Confidence.
Freedom.
Joy.
Friendship.
A boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner(s).
Happiness.
Peace.
No more insecurities.
No more loneliness.
Financial freedom, security and stability (aka real wealth).
Just a good easy life.

We think being pretty is the key that unlocks some treasure chest and that the good prizes are waiting for us inside. We just need that key… We just need that new bronzer, or that new eyeshadow palette that just came out, or those red bottom shoes… we just need to be rich.

I won’t lie, beauty and all that stuff is expensive. It can get expensive. And with enough money and enough cosmetic procedures, I think theoretically almost anyone could be a 8+ on the 10 scale.

But all those goodies we think are inside that treasure chest which only opens with the key of Beauty, those goodies aren’t in there. They’re somewhere else; we’ll get to that.

What really lies inside the treasure chest of beauty are stupid prizes:
Popularity.
More social media followers.
Money, maybe. (But not nearly as much as you hoped.)
A promotion, maybe.
An easier time dating and no heartbreak. (Offer valid only on February 29th and a Blue Harvest Moon that coincides with the passing of Haley’s comet.)
People are generally more polite.
Some free stuff. Skipping the line at the club.

Take it from someone who has been called “pretty” and beautiful her whole life and who is genetically blessed, can eat whatever she wants and weighs the same as she did in 8th grade (and yet who still chases beauty). The good prizes are not in the treasure chest that can only be opened by the “beautiful people.” Beauty won’t unlock the chest with the good prizes. It gets you stupid prizes.

And yeah prizes are nice even if they are just stupid social trinkets, not gonna lie. But I promise, beauty doesn’t make you less insecure. It doesn’t make you less lonely. It doesn’t cure mental illness. It doesn’t bring anyone back from the dead. It doesn’t make you less suicidal. It won’t make you substantially happier beyond the dopamine rush of shopping and acquiring the latest highlighter dropped by a popular make up brand. It doesn’t make you healthier. Or wealthier. Beauty is not an investment. Investments make you money, beauty just takes your money. Beauty won’t get you the relationship you want or the person of your dreams. Beauty can’t save you from heartbreak.

I speak from personal experience.

I won’t lie, the halo effect is real. Everyone has a “beauty bias.” But that’s not gonna get you to the good prizes. It gets you stupid prizes. Which are still prizes after all. But they’re not Good Prizes.

I love sharing my knowledge and talking about skincare and makeup and beauty and fashion. I enjoy it and it’s fun for me. But I’m learning not to make the mistake of thinking that it’s going to get me any good prizes and I’m trying my best not to be fooled into valuing the stupid prizes more than I should.

It’s hard. Almost everyone in society values the stupid prizes. And we are socialized to believe that the good prizes will inevitably come along with the stupid prizes.

The whole world and pretty much all advertising has us convinced that the two kinds of prizes are linked, if not one in the same. But they’re not. They’re completely independent from one another; they’re not directly correlated at all.

And if they are linked in anyway, I would say that the more you chase after stupid prizes like clout and follower counts, the less room you have in your life for the good prizes. That’s not to say that ultra-beautiful people are automatically shallow and have lives devoid of love and belonging, but the stupid prizes and the status symbols and appearances matter less and less to you the more you care about the good prizes, regardless of how you look.

It can be hard to give up the stupid prizes and to stop caring about them, especially when they come easily to you and the whole world says that those things are what’s important and “how could you be insecure you’re too beautiful; so many girls would kill to look like you.” But I think deep down we all know that the stupid prizes don’t inevitably get us the good ones. It’s just a matter of admitting that to ourselves.

Makeup, beauty and fashion are hobbies just like any other. I don’t think my knitting is going to get me any prizes, good prizes or otherwise. I do it because I enjoy doing it and I feel proud of myself when I make things.

I’m trying to have the same take on beauty and fashion as well. Because it can be really problematic when we treat beauty not just as a hobby that we enjoy but as a key to a treasure chest filled with prizes.

It would be like someone being really into cars and fixing cars and car artwork (is there a proper term for that?) and all the car stuff but primarily because they think that having the best and most awesome, coolest and fastest car is going to get them a boyfriend or girlfriend or help them get laid or make them look cool. (And side note on looking cool- it’s really just a stupid prize that substitutes for good prizes like acceptance and belonging.)

Someone who thinks along those lines is likely an entitled asshole and emotionally immature, not because they’re into dope cars but because they think their hobby will unlock a treasure chest of good prizes for them. So when they inevitably fail, they either lash out or turn inward and that failure further fuels their insecurities or mental health issues.

I don’t want to be an entitled asshole or emotionally immature. And I don’t want a hobby like beauty to become a whole identity either.

Like I said, I love beauty and fashion because I love sharing about it and answering my friends skincare questions and recommending products and discussing ingredients and learning about the chemistry behind products. That’s the best part. It’s the sharing and the helping. (I don’t know enough about knitting to be of much help but I got into it when my friend taught me during quarantine.)

With the car example, maybe the person who’s really into cars can help their friends learn how to buy a car or fix their car, or give recommendations for dealerships or repair shops because they know which places in town are good and which are not so good.

And that’s the good prize. Sharing brings us connection and connection brings us to belonging and friendship. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about looking pretty or looking cool. You don’t need either of those to enjoy your hobby and share what you know. I don’t need thousands of readers on this blog with tons of likes and comments to enjoy writing it. I don’t have thousands of readers. I don’t even have a hundred.

But that’s ok. I’m enjoying my hobby, independent of any stupid prizes.

 

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