As a child, it was not uncommon for me to hear people tell my mother that I was pretty. Its something that I heard a lot. Even as I packed on the pounds, I would hear this. As I became an adult, I would still hear similar remarks, but with the caveat, “if you were thinner, you would be beautiful” I heard it so many times, it started to morph in my brain to mean, I would only be beautiful if I was thin. It was a difficult belief to carry and I allowed it to play a significant role in my life.
This belief of lack of beauty held me back and became the reason why things didn’t go well. The reason I didn’t get the guy, the job, why I wasn’t happy, you name it. This fucked up perception followed me throughout a good part of my life. It created a cycle of belief of not being pretty enough, not being good enough. I was somehow imperfect, and could only be perfect if I was skinny. My inner critic would often beat myself up. “If I was thinner, he would choose me.” “If I was thinner, I would be desireable.” “If I was thinner, I would be happier.”
This was particularly difficult if there was a rejection from a person. I was not able to recognize that someone’s preferences and attractions were their own personal choice based on their life experience and perceptions. Meaning, it doesn’t have anything to do with me not being good enough. It’s not a personal rejection. I do not fall into everyone’s category of beauty and that’s ok. In other words, I am unique and you are also unique. It took me a long time to figure this out. I have my own type of beauty and so do you. There are no standards when it comes to beauty.
This idea of beauty has been impacting me lately. I’ve been really struggling with how I see my face. As I lose more weight, the shape of my face is changing. Where I once saw pretty, I now see an average face staring back at me. It became so bad, that for the first time ever, I started deleting some of my selfies off of my Instagram account because I disliked the way I looked. Not pretty enough. Not good enough.
That’s when I started to realize that I still carry this limiting belief. I did “all the things” you should do when you have some depression or anxiety. I started talking about it with friends. I wrote about it. I went to bellydance which always allows me to rise up because it allows me to connect with movement, confidence, and sensuality. This helped me a lot, but I still had a lot of self-reflection going on. Questions were spinning around in my head.
What is beauty? Am I beautiful? Was I just an average woman with an overly confident ego and now reality is just sinking in? As I sat there thinking, I flashed back to something I used to do as a young woman just barely in my twenties (or maybe younger). When I would walk into a restaurant (and that was often a weekly event with my parents), I would scan to see which people were watching the door as we entered. I would catch the eye of some man, give a mischievous smile and begin to unbutton my coat, as if…I was undressing for him. I know, I know, probably not the smartest thing to be doing, but it felt like so much fun.
I’d gently push the coat off my shoulders, moving my arms behind me so that gravity would drop the coat into my hands as I imagined Marilyn Monroe would have done. My clothed body was there for him to review as I stood in something very similar to showgirl stance. Then gently swing my coat in front of me folding it over my arm, covering the front of my body. As I reflected on this memory, I realized that it was my playfulness, confidence, sensuality, my capacity to love another and so much more that makes me attractive. This, I believe, is what people see in me. This is my beauty. This makes my beauty unique.
My beauty is not the thinness nor thickness of my face or body, not the curves, not the quality of my skin nor the color of my hair. It is what energetically exudes out to those around me. I sat with this for a moment because I wasn’t sure that I could accept this idea. I wasn’t sure that my ego could let go and have a different idea of what beauty is, of how I want to see myself.
I asked myself, do you want this reversed? Beauty without that uniqueness? Beauty without connection? The answer is no. I want the beauty within me to emanate out. This is what I want you to see in me. This is what I want you to see in yourself. There should be no standard for beauty. It’s perception based on what we have experienced in our lives. Beauty is not what other people think of you, but what you think of yourself. You need to create and believe in the value of yourself. No one else’s opinion matters. I think its too easy to give our power away by allowing someone else to judge our physical being. When it comes down to it, it’s just their thoughts and opinions. I don’t have to believe what someone else thinks of me. I only have to believe in what I think. I would never be this cruel to another human being, so why should I be that way to myself? So I choose to stop the negative talk and say fuck you to my inner critic. In these realizations, I have called back another piece of my free spirit.