“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Coco Chanel
If you asked me a few years ago, what I liked about myself you would have been greeted with a stumped silence. Why? Because I didn’t like anything about myself. Not one hair. However, if you’d asked me what I hated about myself? Oh boy, now we would have been really talking!
The truth was this: I hated everything about myself.
Especially, my freckled (A.K.A blotchy) face.
Especially my wobbly thighs.
Especially my stomach fat that just wouldn’t budge despite hours of sweating and crunching.
Especially my hair which was always so straight and flat. Why couldn’t it be more like my friend Heather’s hair which always looked so naturally voluminous and bouncy?
And don’t get me started on my boobs which were just way too big for my body, seriously!
Yeah, if you asked me what I hated about myself, I could list off a whole raft of things and probably 95% of them would be about my body and my appearance.
Funny, isn’t it? How we women base our entire self-worth on just one thing: the way we look. Or is it? (PS: I’m leaning toward the not funny option - what about you?)
But when you think about it, if you actually take the time to sit down and think about the when, the why, and the how behind this fact…it’s no wonder we are all hating on ourselves.
Because the truth of the matter is that we are brought up in a society that values outward appearances over and above intelligence and moral substance.
Because we are brought up in a society where a group of strangers construct the definition of what beauty is for us, and then continually seek to reaffirm this so-called “truth” through the hundreds upon thousands (millions and zillions!) of visual tweaks they make on Photoshop, out of our line of sight.
Because we are brought up in a society where we are taught that first appearances matter the most, that the way we choose to dress is more than simply “wearing clothes” and is really an outer expression of who we are at heart.
Because we are brought up in a society that shows us every single, damn day that we are not good enough as we are right in this very moment.
In order to be deemed good enough, we have to have the waist of a Barbie doll, have the translucent skin of the young Bridget Bardot, have the legs of Heidi Klum, the breasts of Pamela Anderson (that’s if they are considered “in style” right now), be able to walk in stilettos for 10 hours straight whilst also kicking butt in the office during the day, cooking nutritiously balanced AND tasty meals by night whilst having enough time to tuck the kids into bed with a storybook to boot.
And here’s another truth: we buy into it again and again. I did, often without being fully aware of it (and sometimes still do) and I know you do too.
Looking back, I spent so many years of my life agonising over whether my thighs looked too fat in that skirt, whether my stomach looked flat enough in those jeans, whether my hair was falling across my face exactly the way I wanted it to….
All that time! Gone! Wasted!
Now, I often catch myself questioning…instead of spending all of that time on judging and criticising myself, what if I had invested it in beliefs, thoughts, words and actions that would have supported and accelerated my own growth? Where would I be today if I had made the choice to treat myself with kindness? What experiences would I have not missed on? How different would my life be if I had stepped off the comparison train and instead worked at getting to know the real me? What would my life look like now if I had used that time to find beauty in and feel gratitude for my quirks and flaws?
After all the work I’ve done on myself over the years, I’ve learned that my quirks and flaws, my uniqueness, those moments where let my true self be SEEN (even it means embarrassing myself)…that is where my true beauty lives. I now recognise that my self-worth has nothing to do with the way I do my makeup, or how my clothes fit, or whether my legs are clean-shaven or not. No, the fact that I am worthy as a human being is something far deeper than who I am on the outside and is more a reflection of the person I am on the inside, the person I choose to be everyday: the values I hold, the experiences I have, the choices I make, the thoughts I think and the actions I take. My self-worth is therefore more complex than just what I look like, but at the same time it is more simple: I am worthy because I am alive and I am here.
So, the next time you look at yourself in the mirror and catch yourself regurgitating the same old, hateful story to yourself, remember this:
• You are MORE than what you look like.
• You MORE than the clothes you wear.
• You are MORE than what others think of you.
And also this: the world NEEDS you exactly as you are right now. Don’t you forget it!
Kelly is a writer, teacher and creative coach for the modern woman who seeks to live a spiritual and creative unicorn life (A.K.A total badass lifestyle) without apology! Say hello to Kelly on Instagram @theunicorncreative_nz and get first access to her new blog launching in late February: www.gofullwoo.co.nz