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Approval Addiction
Every Friday my syndicated column "Reality Check" appears in a number of newspapers. Here's today's!

I was one of the 13 gazillion people who watched that video of Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent off of YouTube. She blew my socks off. But she also made me a little bit sad.

Susan, by all appearances, is a wonderful person. She enjoys life in her little village. She has spunk and spirit. She likely makes people feel at ease.

And there she was, grovelling before three people who were her polar opposites. Sure they were beautiful and she wasn’t, but there was a bigger difference. The other three were shallow and just plain mean. They confessed that they were laughing at her and they wanted to hate her, but then she changed their minds.

I suppose it was big of them to admit that they had erred, but did they have to dwell so much on how awful she had seemed to them initially? And I suppose that she required their approval because she wants to be a star, but she didn’t seem sure of her performance until Amanda (“even you, Amanda?”) admitted that she was stupendous. She was amazing, but she needed them to tell her that.

I love Susan Boyle, and I hope she goes all the way on Britain’s Got Talent. But I still feel uneasy with the fact that in our society our worth is primarily based on such superficial things like whether we conform to what the popular people say we should look like, act like, and think like. Even when we are amazing, as Ms. Boyle is, we still don’t believe it until these popular people bestow their approval on us.

On another “talent show” last week a contestant took a different tact. Miss California, the runner up in the Miss USA contest, may have lost the crown because she answered honestly about her opinions on gay marriage. Perez Hilton, the homosexual judge who had asked the loaded question, admitted that he marked her low because of it.

Her answer was definitely not articulate. She was clearly thinking on the fly, aware of the ramifications of what she was saying. But in the end she stuck to her guns. Carrie Prejean said she thought marriage should be between a man and a woman. She was true to herself, even if it meant giving up the approval of those who could make her a star.

To me, this isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about people being allowed to think for themselves, dress for themselves, and be themselves, without others denigrating them for it. Sometimes when we speak our minds there are consequences, as Ms. Prejean discovered. But what would the world be like if we all tried to act like Perez Hilton?

It reminds me vaguely of high school. There we all were, trying to get the “in” people to like us, when really those kids probably weren’t worth our attention at all. As a teen, I dated many guys just because they liked me. I was so desperate to find someone to affirm me that I never really bothered to ask myself if I liked them back. In fact, I think I dated a lot of guys I didn’t like at all. What a pathetic life.

I hope I’ve grown out of most of my quest to be admired, but I know there’s still a little bit of an approval addiction in all of us. Ultimately, though, we all have to answer to ourselves, our families, and—for those of you who believe in God—our Maker. The Simon Cowells and Perez Hiltons of this world don’t matter. Maybe, if we all said that loudly enough, they’d go away and we could enjoy just being ourselves again!

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum



At 5:52 PM , Blogger Rebecca said…

I keep reading great posts about Susan Boyle and I keep thinking, "Man, I wish I had written that first!" You've opened a discussion that not many would be willing to open on a public forum. Kudos to you.


At 12:02 AM , Blogger Rena said…

I recently found your blog and have learned so much already. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
This post is so insightful. I wonder if women,especially, feel the need for validation. Sometimes I wonder if blogging can feed this need for approval!


At 12:49 AM , Anonymous JoAnne Bennett said…

very well said. At first, I thought to myself, "Oh, no, here it goes again about Carrie Prejean." But I found your perspective very enlightening because you applauded her for answering the question honestly, but at the same time you didn't put her up on a pedestal. In my personal opinion,it was much too controversial of a question to ask a contestant, although they supposedly knew all the questions they might be asked ahead of time. No matter how she would have had answered the question, someone would have been offended by her response in regards to such a heated topic.

I would like to see beauty pageants be more about what's on the inside than physical beauty. I believe that is why so many people across the world are rooting for Susan Boyle. To me, it seems like we as human beings are searching for the true definition of what it means to be "real."

Thanks for sharing Shelia!


At 9:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Perez Hilton obviously had an agenda. There have been a few shows that are checking the inside beauty, to a point, but the participants think it is the outward that is being judged. True Beauty and also Beauty and the Geek which I believe Ashton Kutcher had a hand in both.

Scripture even addresses this:
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:3-4
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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