Beauty – The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality. (source)
A topic that I have been wanting to blog about for a while now is beauty. I have always struggled with thinking of myself as beautiful (as I am sure many other women do) for as long as I can remember. Today I wanted to take some time to reflect on the definition of beauty as truthfulness and originality, rather than something that we think of as only skin-deep.
As a child I hated so many things about myself (especially my red hair and my freckles) and I always played the comparison game with any other girls around me. No matter who I compared myself to, I always came up short. I was always, uglier, fatter, not as tall or had not as nice hair, nose, eyes, clothes etc. I played this game for so so long, always wishing I could be somebody, anybody else but ugly old me.
I went through many years of dying my hair, buying tons of clothes, wearing a lot of make-up and struggling with my weight and food by restricting my eating, overeating, over-exercising and purging. My weight has been up and down and all over the place. Until a few years ago, I never really understood why I kept on playing this game and why I couldn’t just be happy with who I was. That was when I realized that it was because I had no idea know who I was. I was always just trying to be like everybody else and do what they do to fit in.
I know that sound childish, but I believe that so many people do this. Yes, even adults. We still play this comparison game, but perhaps not only do we compare our physical appearance with others but we compare ourselves in different ways as well. We compare our children or our parenting skills. We compare our jobs with one another or our homes. We compare our abilities and talents and constantly measure ourselves against what others are doing or not doing. And really, what do we gain from all of this?
I guess the mind likes to think that in comparing oneself to another and coming out better than the other person we somehow win and deem ourselves as good. When we are good or better than someone else, life is good and we can be happy but when we are not good and come up short, life is bad and we feel miserable. The problem with all this comparing/winning and losing is that it is a never-ending, selfish and ego-driven way to live your life. Once you start playing the comparison game, you pretty much are stuck in a trap and always have to become better and better, prettier or thinner or have nicer home, better job etc. There is never any contentment in life because you are never satisfied with just being who you are.
It took me some time and a lot of detoxing from the world to begin to find myself. In the summer of 2009, I got rid of all of my magazines and we cancelled our T.V. I resorted to a pretty meditative lifestyle and began to do a lot of walking with the family instead of my usual workouts in front of the T.V trying to get a hot body. I read a lot of books, worked on self-acceptance, prayed (a lot) and made the decision to go vegetarian in September 2009 and vegan a month later. I was finally able to hear the desires of my heart and live a life that truly made me happy.
I stopped wearing make-up and got used to the idea of my beauty being more than just skin deep. I began to base my self-esteem in things other than my appearance, which was all I had beforehand. I started to become less self-centered and took more time to do things with the girls and for others. Life was getting better and better.
Today, nearly two years later, I feel like a completely different person. I know that I am not my body or my make-up or even my hair, that I donated at the Terry Fox Run last Fall. I feel as though I have let so much of that go and have really begun to find out who I am. I am finally able to think of myself as beautiful because I am a loving mother, a compassionate vegan and I have the will to love all of myself and others and inspire others to do the same. I am no longer attached to my appearance and afraid to show my real face to the world.
I have recognized the impermanence of my physical appearance and that it is always subject to change. Weight will go up and down, hair can be here today and gone tomorrow, make-up is only made-up and we will all get old and die. I respect my body as a temporary home for my spirit and treat it lovingly, doing my best to nourish it with healthy thoughts and foods. And most importantly, I do my best to see the beauty in others as well.
Each and every one of us is beautiful and we ought to try to cultivate and inspire real beauty in our world. In my opinion, our young children are learning the completely wrong definition of beauty and losing themselves to the comparison game all over the place. We need to show them by our example what real beauty is and take back what the media has stolen from us, our uniqueness and our diversity. We should be confident in who we are as an individual and forget trying to fit in to any standard.
All I want to have done when my life is over is to have given my best. I have such a desire to do good and to see change in this world and make a difference in the lives of others. I want to raise my girls to be confident in who they are and love themselves and others. I want to be able to be myself in a world that is constantly trying to make me into someone else.
I hope that you will take some time today to see the beauty in yourself and in others around you. It is hard sometimes to do, but I believe that deep down inside each of us is the desire to do good and to live a life of love. Sadly, many of us have forgotten who we are and have instead become what others have wanted us to and are not happy and thus, not exuding our real beauty.
Stop playing the comparison game and get comfortable with yourself. Love all of yourself, your past, which has brought you to where you are today. Your present, your gift of 24 hours to give the world your best and leave your future where it belongs, in the future. Take back the definition of beauty as truthfulness and originality. BE YOURSELF and most importantly, LOVE YOURSELF!
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” – Kahlil Gibran
“There’s a voice inside of you, that whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me” or “I know that THIS is wrong”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wiseman can decide,
What’s right for you, just listen to the voice that speaks inside”
– Shel Silverstein
Much love to you all! 🙂