I’m decidedly not modelesque. Severe acne damaged my skin forever; I’m angular in all the wrong ways; my body is both petite and notably devoid of pleasing curves; I’m what is known as skinny-fat, I think – my weight is right where it should be but my inability to exercise through prolonged illness has left me with flabby, sagging, unattractive messes over the entirety of my sorry woman-scape.
Not a particularly pretty picture I’m painting, is it? And that’s exactly why I’ve struggled for as long as I can remember with living in this body I’ve described. Although age and illness have changed some things that used to be in better condition, I’ve always been more blemished than beautiful and I’ve spent years and years trying to build up the ability to become blind to the relentless assault of beauty campaigns so that my ugliness didn’t hurt so much. But there is no escape from the constant idealizations shoved in front of our eyeballs if we live in this modern world, so it seemed like the only way for me to escape the horrible pain that came every time I saw the incredibly beautiful women selling beauty to the masses was to find a way to become blind to it. This was a mission I was beginning to embark on with gusto.
Then one day, my kids and I were having a movie night and out of the blue my seven-year-old daughter said, “I wish I looked like that princess so that I was beautiful too. She is so beautiful.” My heart just shattered at her words. She’s EIGHT! And she is GORGEOUS!
I let the movie play out and got the kids into bed. Then I sat down on the edge of my daughter’s bed, held her hand and had a talk with her about beauty and how distorted it all is in our world. As I talked with her, I realized that I shoul be taking my own advice. I kissed her goodnight, closed the door to her room and made a deal with myself that I would just accept the body I’m in and begin to build myself up into my very own beautiful. It’s okay that I won’t ever be a model and that I won’t ever reach the definition of beauty we see all around us in advertising, movies, music – everything. I can be my own beautiful. I have to be so that my daughter has a mother who models a healthy self-image for her.
What does this all mean? I don’t even know. I’m starting from scratch. I’m building on just the idea that beautiful is mine to define for myself in whatever way I choose. I know for sure it’s got to come from the inside outward and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. But it’s enough for now.
As I journey on in my endeavour, I’ll be sharing about it here. My journey will include figuring out how to dress to flatter my appearance the most, what hairstyles are best for me, colours and makeup applications that enhance the best parts of me and so on. That’s right, I won’t be flipping the bird at conventionally defined beauty and letting my pit hair flourish in some mis-guided FU to ‘the man’. I plan to nourish my body through food and exercise as I’m able, continue to work on strengthening emotional and spiritual healing and just generally taking care of my whole self and being okay with all my flaws but focusing on my best features – inside and out.
Pretty clothes have always brought me joy and it’s just ridiculous that I would sit arount telling myself that I’m too ugly to deserve to wear pretty clothes. I love pretty clothes. I deserve to wear pretty clothes. I WILL wear pretty clothes. I’ll be sharing outfits and all sorts of trial and error beautification stuff as I figure out what being beautiful means to me.
A year ago I’d have laughed in your face if you would have called me beautiful. Are you blind??? But my daughter’s simple words woke me up and made me think really long and really hard about the whole thing. I’ve concluded that if I decide I’m beautiful, then I am beautiful. Simple as that. Because who tells me that I’m beautiful? Is it all the magazines and advertisements? In a way, yes. But it is me AGREEING with that message that tells me that I don’t measure up. I simply have to get myself a new perspective and I’m good to go.
As I journey along this path of discovery, I invite you to also walk with me. I hope you will be inspired to examine your own ideas of what beautiful means in the real world and if you’re an expert fashionista then you can throw some of your expert fashionista advice my way, if you like.