Insulting Mayim Bialik
We are masters at writing people off based solely on external superficialities.
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory star and Jeopardy cohost, recently described on her podcast what it’s like to be on the receiving end of unwarranted comments. Being in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years, she’s heard many opinions about herself, including this hurtful one: “People will tell you exactly how they feel. Like ‘I saw you in a magazine. I was confused. You looked pretty.’ I get that a lot.”
Despite all her years of success, her being accepted to Harvard and Yale at 17, and being an accomplished neuroscientist, the comments Mayim received was regarding misperception about her looks.
Justin Long, an actor who appeared on Mayim’s podcast, observed how celebrities are uniquely treated. “It’s the only profession that I can think of where people will tell you deeply insulting things but with a big smile.”
But it is not only Hollywood stars who receive put-downs or insulting comments about their appearances, with or without a smile. Whether you’re in the office, driving car pool, or at a family get-together, there’s bound to be somebody who will make a comment that makes you think, Did I just hear what I think I heard?
We live in a culture that idealizes perfect appearances. You don’t have to be a famous celebrity to feel the pressure. Social media only fuels the fire. Touch ups of online photos and a constant sharing of life experience creates a picture-perfect life that is far from the truth. The pressure to look flawless creates an expectation that’s impossible to meet. Add to that the freedom to comment about others online where many feel that they have the right to be hurtful and insulting. We judge others on their looks and superficialities, and think we can tell them exactly how we perceive them.
Seeing True Beauty
Jewish wisdom provides a valuable insight into how we should view others.
Samuel the Prophet is seeking out the next king of Israel. He arrives at Bethlehem and meets the handsome, charismatic sons of Yishai. One is more vibrant and better looking than the next. He is sure that he has found the royal leader of the nation. Yishai presents seven sons. But God vetoes all of them.
Apparently, Samuel was sizing them up wrong.
God tells him, “Look not upon his appearance, or the height of his stature, for I have rejected him, for it is not as man sees. Because man sees what is visible to the eyes, while God sees into the heart” (1 Samuel, 16:7).
Where Samuel saw perfection, God saw character flaws. The most handsome man or woman who speaks with arrogance and pushes others down becomes the most ugly.
Thousands of years before Instagram, God tells us to look beyond the surface and see one’s inner soul.
Thousands of years before Instagram, God tells us to look beyond the surface and be aware of the heart and soul that lies within. It’s so easy to write someone off without really getting to know them, based solely on external superficialities. We cast good people aside and pursue those we believe hold the key to beauty and perfection. And we totally miss seeing the magic and beauty that lies within, to taste the joy that authentic friendship brings.
No one could have imagined that David, the simple shepherd, would become the leader of the Jewish people, head of the Davidic dynasty, and sweet writer of psalms that comfort us, his children, until today.
Many fans have reached out to tell Mayim that they love her just the way she is. True beauty is a good soul, a giving heart, a person who has depth and lives with courage.
After all, what will you be remembered for? Is it your perfect features, your clothing size, your social media posts? Or for your smile, your kindness and compassion, your soothing calm, and the grit you showed as each life challenge hurled your way?
Don’t accept Hollywood’s perception of what’s beautiful. Don’t allow others to define your legacy.
Let’s try to see the inner depth of the person who stands before us. And remind ourselves to focus on seeing the beauty that lies within us, as well.