The Beauty Myth: Releasing Limiting Beauty Beliefs
When I was a little girl I would look in the mirror delightfully smiling back at my reflection. There was no judgement or longing for anything to be different about me.
My parents asked me, “Are you beautiful?” I would declare, “Yes!” without giving the question or answer a second thought. I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself beautiful again for probably another twenty years.
Here are some of my memories about my appearance as a tween:
- I find a note in my locker from a girl who decides it’s very important that I know I have a gigantic nose. And that I’m ugly.
- A boy on the bus points to my arm and objectively tells me how hairy it is. We both look down at it as if discovering a strange creature for the first time.
- A girl sitting out in gym class stares at me as I bounce through jumping jacks. She tells me my legs look like toothpicks and wonders out loud how they don’t snap.
- A girl tells me I have something on my lip. She keeps telling me to brush it off. I can’t because it’s a pimple.
These memories, among a slew of others, are really vivid. Negative memories hold that kind of charge. We remember the scenes clearly, the feeling of embarrassment and hurt, and the people involved.
I made one very big mistake during each one of these incidents: I allowed them to define me.
I didn’t know if a man would ever find me attractive because people who I barely knew were pointing out things about my body that seemed to be wrong. As I grew into a woman I found it difficult to allow physical compliments to come in so I used my intellect to project confidence.
The comments themselves were not necessarily meant to be malicious (in some cases they were), but they were formed from society’s definition of beauty. The images and assertions that are made about physical beauty become the lens through which we see others.
In my case, my physical appearance didn’t match the accepted standards of beauty within my world. I chose to accept that because at the time I didn't realize I had a choice.
When we accept society’s definition of beauty we make ourselves a victim.
Before I began to work on my relationship to myself I felt like a victim of circumstances. I waited around for someone to love me and show me I was worth something. I seriously questioned whether a man would ever find me attractive. I found a lot of my confidence from my first real boyfriend at 17 years old.
It was a false confidence, of course. I couldn’t get that strength from him because it’s only something that comes from within.
One of my spiritual teachers sat across from me over four years ago and asked me point blank, “Do you know that you’re beautiful?” I squirmed in my seat.
I didn’t know how to answer that. If I said no then I wasn’t confident, but if I said yes then I was claiming something that didn’t feel claimable to me.
I began working on accepting myself on all levels after that meeting. What I have come to realize is that beauty has nothing to do with physicality.
Your beauty comes from your confidence. Your beauty comes from inner strength.
There is a great myth that beauty has a certain look.
Beauty has nothing to do with physical appearances that society deems acceptable or not. Beauty emerges when we love ourselves.
When we love ourselves the way we carry ourselves changes. Our cells change. We vibrate at a higher frequency. The way we feel shifts. And, yes, the way people perceives us changes, too, but that is the byproduct not the goal.
Most of us are afraid to declare our beauty. We’re afraid the world will not agree with us. This is just another way we keep ourselves small.
We allow the world to define us instead of defining ourselves.
You can actually create your own definition of beauty, and it can be inclusive. Beauty can be a word that embraces everyone’s physicality. We are in these incredibly magnificent bodies, and instead of judging them we should be honoring them.
The truth is that beauty begins within. Choose to choose to commit to loving yourself and reclaim your beauty for yourself, for our future, and for the world.