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Personal Appearance

See, there’s this wonderful woman who lives down the street from me — I’ll call her Cindy. She’s witty, thoughtful, helpful, caring… and basically the best neighbor my wife and I could ask for. Even when stay-at-home orders went into effect, she’d still regularly call us to make sure everyone was okay... And would even drop off big plates of homemade cookies for our kids on occasion. ("Just to keep them in good spirits," she'd say.)

So when Cindy’s 67th birthday rolled around this past Tuesday, we decided to leave a little surprise on her doorstep of our own: A big bouquet of flowers, with a gift certificate to one of our favorite local spas tucked inside. And of course, as soon as Cindy saw it, she called to thank us right away.

But after gushing about how beautiful the flowers were — she said something totally unexpected. “And I know my niece will really love that gift certificate too… boy, what a treat! I can’t wait to tell her about it!” Now, at first, I just assumed Cindy wanted to give the gift certificate to her niece because she thought it might not be safe for someone her age to go to a spa any time soon. (You know, with social distancing and all.) So I quickly assured her there was no expiration date on it, and she could schedule her appointment whenever she liked.

But Cindy insisted that wasn’t the problem. “Come on, John... let’s be realistic. I’m not married, I’m not dating anyone. So what’s the point in trying to look good? I’d just be wasting everyone’s time.” So immediately, my first thought was "What?!" How could someone as intelligent and accomplished as Cindy possibly consider herself a “waste” of time?

In fact, I was so taken aback, I didn’t even know how to respond... So instead, I just mumbled something about how she already looked great anyway (which was true) — and quickly changed the subject. But now, I find myself constantly replaying that conversation over and over in my head… And wondering if I should have said something more.

After all, society has been telling women that their sole purpose is to please the male gaze for generations. And clearly it’s had an effect. So as Cindy’s friend — and the father of a young girl myself — I feel like I should speak up when I hear these kinds of statements. (Otherwise, I’ll just be validating this belief, and the cycle will continue.)

But at the same time, I also feel like it’s not my place to tell Cindy why she should and shouldn’t care about her appearance. It’s her business — and I’m sure she doesn’t need me to explain the benefits of a relaxing spa day to her. Needless to say, this whole incident has me feeling very confused.

So since I know our subscribers understand the true value of self-care better than anyone, I thought I'd reach out and ask... What inspires you to look your best every day? Seriously, let me know. There are no right or wrong answers — I honestly just want to get a broader perspective. (So no matter what motivates you to take pride in your appearance, your response will be greatly appreciated.)

And of course, if you have any specific advice about what I should tell Cindy — or if I should just let it go — definitely feel free to share that as well. I’m not kidding, I could really use your unbiased opinion on this! And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, your insight will help me inspire Cindy to see her own beauty in a different light.

Your Beverly Hills MD,

Dr. John Layke