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I think it’s interesting to think about how people get what they want. I know one of your favorite questions is “What do you want from me?”, but I think that that question can be shelved and tackled another day, because whether or not somebody knows what they want, or thinks they know what they want, or knows they definitely want something but then when they get it decide they want something else…all of that is irrelevant.

Cue Gandhi-via-lazenby:

If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay for it; and if I want it as a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and, according to the means I employ, the watch is either stolen property, my own property, or a donation.

So, the way you fight determines the world you make for yourself after you’ve won. (Obv. Gandhi wasn’t the first to realize this, cf. ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword,’ etc.)”

He’s talking about feminism, but I think the analogy can be applied to any struggle. Replace Gandhi’s watch with self-respect, attention, money — it’s still live by the beauty app/botox/eyelash extensions, die by the beauty app/botox/eyelash extensions.

Of course beauty is only one metric by which you can measure your self-worth, only one type of currency you can exchange for what you want. If you value intelligence, a sense of humor, the ability to fix appliances, then the extent to which you embody those traits (or on bad days, don’t) makes you either hot shit or a hot mess. Where things get more complicated, I think, is trying to take that personal ratio you’ve developed of all those different physical characteristics/personality traits/moral virtues/ego bricks and then holding that picture up to see how well if compares with what another person has come up with (or with the aggregated pictures of a larger group, which is probably how you end up taking a girl from a countryside, putting her through the Zeitgeist sausage-maker, and ending up with a big-eyed, dog-nosed, glitter-covered chimera.)

Applying make-up and doing your hair and choosing the right clothes are all skills that need background knowledge and time to execute, often demand enduring physical discomfort, and always require money. But reducing that ego calculus to be 100% about beauty has the advantage of making things simple. Especially when the feedback (verbally, materially, professionally) you’re getting echoes the sentiment that beauty is all you need. Unfortunately now you’re back to where you started, living or dying based on your ability to keep afloat in a sea of perfection.

I think of this state of affairs as similar to the combined tyranny of circumstance, necessity, and habit that makes it impossible not to trample old ladies while getting on a bus. Go ahead and develop that mind, but if you take the high road, you ain’t going anywhere.

Anyway, as a dude with <600 likes on Tantan, I should probably leave deliberations on beauty to the professionals.

p.s. I really hated using all these business transaction analogies, but ever since time became monetized, I guess it was inevitable that everything else — love/romance, power, desire, freedom — would become thought of (at least in part) in economic terms. I think capitalism’s most corrupting/profound influence on Chinese society comes from stoking the doomsday machine that is the desire for more and more consumption. Scarcity and competition have always existed in the sense that food, natural resources, good jobs, or experienced doms are finite the world over. But as with nearly every problem in China, the scale of the arena in which these contradictions exist means that the magnitude of the consequences that arise from attempts to reconcile them is on a whole other level. Anyway, I’m not talking about what you were talking about anymore so I think it’s time to shut up.

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