Being beautiful has always been something that I’ve wanted to feel– yet never seemed to be able to attain for very long. I look at the shapes and aspects of other women whom I deem to be attractive as they walk down the street or grace the pages of a magazine and the seeming deficiencies in my own body begin to pile up.
I usually just don’t see myself measuring up which makes the whole “feeling beautiful thing” difficult.
At the same time, I hold a belief that there is something superficial about stunning beauty. I know enough about the airbrushing and altering of images to doubt that any real woman literally looks like that “cover girl” I’m comparing myself to.
And I also find myself falling into the dichotomous and limiting belief that one can be either pretty or smart– not both at the same time. There is an underlying stereotype of beautiful women as somehow shallow, egotistical and even vapid. To top it all off, right now in my life I am focused in on my personal growth and spiritual expansion. This has nothing to do with feeling beautiful, does it?
This all makes for quite the conundrum.
I want to be beautiful and I tend to judge myself in comparison to images of beauty that have been manufactured (or attained through sometimes dangerous means re: self-starving or diet-pill dependencies). All the while I do this wishing for beauty, self-judging and comparing, I don’t really respect being beautiful. I buy into the stereotype that beautiful women are narcissistic and hollow and I even see beauty as a surface concern.
I know, there seems to be a lot of conflicting and confused thoughts in here!
Beauty is more than just skin deep
I assert that discovering, affirming and celebrating your beauty is very much a personal growth endeavor. The way that beauty is predominantly understood is quite limited.
Understandably, I (along with the bulk of the population I bet) initially associate being beautiful with a particular way of looking. It seems to be an attractiveness and aesthetic appeal that is perfect in some particular way at first consideration.
But when I really think about it, beauty is an essence and an energy certain people just have. The difference is obvious when I take a step back and re-think being beautiful.
Yes, the effects can be pleasing to the eye when a woman has created a particular look using makeup, hair styling and clothing. But a woman (or man) whose beauty effuses forth from within doesn’t have to put forth those kinds of efforts. She or he walks around confidently knowing her or his own worth, value and beauty. There is a depth and a sense of empowerment present in this manner of being beautiful.
The dictionary defines beauty as a “quality” that evokes pleasure. I think it undercuts the possibilities of beauty to confine it to the surface of our bodies and appearances.
At the same time, our appearances usually reflect what’s going on inside of us. If you are conducting your life in ways that are life-affirming, self-respecting and expansive, you are building your inner beauty and it undoubtedly shows on the outside as well.
This is why those people with a healthy inner beauty almost always glow and are pleasing to be around.
How to cultivate beautiful personal growth
If, like me, you struggle with feeling beautiful at times, try some of these ideas…
You simply cannot come close to feeling or being beautiful unless you love yourself. Get into the habit of telling yourself, “I love you” throughout the day. If this seems difficult, say it anyway. Keep telling yourself, “I love you” until you can start to believe and feel it. Know that you deserve to be loved and who better to love you, than you!
*Build your self esteem
A low sense of self esteem usually accompanies feeling unattractive or ugly. Make it your goal to find things that you appreciate about yourself each and every day. It doesn’t matter how seemingly insignificant this thing you can appreciate about yourself is. It can make a positive difference. Continue to be on the lookout for aspects and attributes about you that can feel good about.
*Keep your dreams alive
Nothing stokes inner beauty and glow more than maintaining your visions for the future. What do you feel excited about? No matter how “pie in the sky” your dreams seem to be, keep them alive in your heart. Stay open to opportunities that might point you toward actually achieving them.
*Let yourself be inspired
Release your comparing and judging habits. When you see a beautiful person, take a deep breath, notice if you feel inferior or ugly by comparison. Next, look at this person again. What is that about him or her that inspires you? In what ways does this person’s beauty show?
Learn from the examples of beauty that stir you. Remind yourself that you have the capacity to be beautiful too. Give yourself permission to shine in your own unique way, just as this person is doing.