Image vs. Substance: Icing or Cake?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Daytime television is 'bae'.

It's baeism (or baefulsomeness) is too magnificent to be coincidental.

Otherwise, explain how we grind and break our backs all day, and come back to night time television, filled with (largely outdated) re-runs of series nobody watches, and movies from the '70s.

(That is, if Nepa does not take the light)

But just go on leave, and stay at home during the day.

Or fall ill.

It's as though there is a grand design to eternally appease the unemployed, and keep one "'ill' with the addictive shows programs reserved for daytime television.  All the action is hoarded for the day tv watchers.

Every program is a hit: back-to-back.

Which is how I found myself stuck to the television, as the newly-elected President-in-Chief of the League of Couch Potatoes.

I watched almost every program, and almost started 'cramming' the names written in the closing credits.

I even got to start an episode of particular life-style programme I used to enjoy back in the day, which I had not seen in a while. Week in week out, the show hostess (or OAP,... or whatever moniker it is they go by these days) would pick someone who was adjudged with a 'bad' sense of dressing, and revamp her wardrobe.

(Dear witches of the African tropics, how about bringing this programme closer home?)

So let's call the subject of this week's wardrobe revamp 'Lady X' - LX for short. Granted; she was no Kate Middleton in her dressing.

But she dressed pretty alright, if you asked me. She had a techie job, and was full of calm, intelligent sass.

And she was smart as hell.


Nevertheless, her best friend and her sister nominated her to the program. To improve her sense of style.

(An 'Intervention', if you may)

The normal narrative presented in the prior episodes of this programme, is the wimpy, non-confident woman, for whom this wardrobe intervention was a reality check, and a wake-up call.

Not LX. She was self assured, confident, hand in pockets, and had a charming personality.

(Did I mention she was smart?)

But slowly, the show coordinators etched away at her confidence. Telling her how unattractive she looked, due to her 'unfeminine' dressing, consisting of jeans and shirts.


I watched her self-assuredness slowly cave in and give way to uncertainty. The last straw was when her daughter was roped in, and she was told by her sister that her daughter wanted to look up to her more, but could not. Because she was not 'dressy' enough.

And the show hostess (or OAP) affirmed to her that for the sake of her daughter, LX had to focus on beautifying and presenting the right image. Because image is EVERYTHING.

I put off the tv. I had had enough day time television.

I wished I could transport myself to where they were, hold the OAP firmly by the shoulders, look long and deep into her entertainment-clutter-centric soul, and calmly ask her to repeat after me:

Image is not EVERYTHING.

Image may be important; critical even. But it is not everything. Particularly not in the real world, where your daily grind has nothing to do with the spotlight of the famous.

Substance is EVERYTHING. Image may take you places. But, it is substance that will keep you at the top.

Sadly, it is this lie that has contributed to making the world a topsy-turvy place; the need to promote a certain "image", fuelling the desire for fast shot to the top, injustifiably expensive possessions, and propagating corrupt vices.

This is the lie we are selling to the next generation; that image is everything. Little wonder we are churning out masses of more uninformed, less developed people, who are more preoccupied with what people think of them, with little or no concern for who they really are.

Heaven know the young ones are already under enough pressure from the high expectations set by Instagram #SlayQueens, and the flamboyant lifestyles of 'money-kings'. The last thing we should be peddling is faux-reality of image being everything.

The likes of Hilary Clinton, Condolezza Rice, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams could not have made the strides they did in perpetuating this falsehood.

Image can only take you so far. Substance will take you the whole way.

So that even as we pay to shape our noses and obliques, and stage interventions to revamp our sense of style, it is more important to remember that it is what lies within that is paramount, and should get more attention. We do not want to raise girls and boys of image-compliant coconut-heads as the next generation.

Image is the icing on the cake. Substance IS the cake.




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  1. A speaker once said and I quote "Seeking external validation brings
    disappointment. Validate yourself
    from within to find true happiness". The present generation would do anything for IG likes and social media validation. People are doing little or nothing to beautify the inside rather they'd spend thousands and millions on the outside for validation