This post is dedicated to, and inspired by, my dear, beautiful friend, Nicole.
We aren’t born hating ourselves; society teaches us to.
I read a comment this morning that hurled me back into a moment in my past. My dear friend was basically commenting on how beautiful some writers were, and that she was jealous. And I sat there looking at this beautiful girl and wondered how in the world she could ever look at herself and see anything but.
When I was younger – through most of my teens and 20s, actually – I suffered from severe body image issues and just about every eating disorder you could think of. I was addicted with weighing myself and working out to burn off whatever miniscule calorie I consumed. And ballet class didn’t help. It was sheer torture. I had to stand face-to-face with a mirror for hours on end. I had plenty of time to find and fixate on every possible flaw that existed on my body and conveniently miss all the ones on everyone else. To me, they were all truly beautiful; I wasn’t.
Fast forward many, many years, and I wish I could go back to that time and shake that young girl. Tell her that those other girls are beautiful, but, most importantly, that she was too.
With the help of friends, and lots of therapy, I can stomach looking at the mirror today. And I smile. I like the girl I see. She’s a wee bit goofy, but she’s alright.
I think beauty and attraction are often confused and misunderstood in society. Many women (and I’m sure men, too) think that if one person of the opposite sex (or same sex, depending on how you swing) doesn’t find them attractive, they must not be beautiful. Not true. I liken beauty to the drinks at Starbucks. You usually gravitate to a certain one (or two), right? But does that make the other drinks any less tasty? Of course not! It’s just your personal preference. And what if they only offered that one drink that you liked? It would be a pretty boring place, right? Exactly.
The best exercise that helped me is to stand in front of the mirror completely naked (yes, you heard me, so go ahead and take off those silly socks you have on too) and look at yourself for 5 minutes. When you first start out, you are going to fixate on the flaws – wow I have big bags under my eyes – but I want you to seek out one thing, just one thing that you really, really like. And continue to focus on that. Look into the mirror. Into your own eyes and say, “You are beautiful.”
It sounds silly, but if you begin to see yourself in a different light, you will start to see others (and the world) differently too. You know how in some churches everyone shakes hands and says, “Peace be with you.”? Well, I wish we could all do that around the world (even if we did it virtually), and we added this to the end of that: “You are beautiful.”
I’ve also learned to embrace my imperfections. Like a treasured antique table, my imperfections each tell a story and set me apart from everyone else. They make me unique. Beauty isn’t having a perfect body and rocking a six pack or the best set of knockers you can buy. True beauty comes from confidence. Confidence in not only knowing who you are (inside and out), but actually liking that person too.
Don’t try to be the beautiful you think society wants you to be; be the beautiful that you actually are.
Until next time, Happy Living!