We all know the old sayings of ‘beauty is skin deep’ and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ but do we actually live by them? Beauty is a billion dollar industry, we are sold images of beauty every day, studies say we see over 3500 marketing messages a day designed by marketing execs to show this narrow western ideal of beauty.
My talk last week for International Women’s Day was about chronic illness and body image and so it got me thinking about beauty, how we see ourselves, how the world defines beauty and where we fit into that concept.
My friend Helen sent me a message telling me to take a look at motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez, she has an extremely rare disorder which means she cannot gain weight and I watched a video of hers called ‘How do you define beauty?’ where she talks about how she found a youtube video of herself naming her as the worlds ugliest woman. I was blown away. Watch this video and then think about it next time you want to make a ‘funny’ comment on a youtube video or random photo on the internet. Remember her words ‘I felt like someone was reaching through the computer screen and punching me’, think about that before you post a comment about a celebrity or an unflattering picture of a stranger.
The amazing thing about Lizzie is her positivity, she accepts the life and the body she has and makes the absolute most of it. Her strength, humour and positive attitude are BEAUTIFUL.
So how do you define beauty? Is it flawless skin and a size 0 figure? The perfect gym body? Toned arms and a six pack? Big pert breasts? Or is it more than that?
Beauty to me is confidence, uniqueness, pride, kindness, positivity. Beauty can be found everywhere if you are open to seeing it. Size 0 or size 30, beauty is inside us all. We just need to accept ourselves and let the awesomeness inside shine through, I KNOW that is easier said than done. But we need to change the nature of society where we as women constantly put ourselves down, we are our own harshest critics and we need to be kinder to ourselves.
Its a shame that it took major surgery and living with an ileostomy bag for me to recognise and voice my wonder of my body. It shouldn’t take such a drastic thing to see beauty in oneself.
We need to stop with the negative comments we make into the mirror and start with positive affirmations. Say to yourself ‘you are amazing’ ‘you are beautiful’ ‘you kick ass’ – say them enough times and you may start believing them.
Think about the people in your life who are truly beautiful. Do they fit into the tiny select package that beauty magazines tell us is beautiful? I have this friend and she is beautiful, but you would never hear her say those words because sadly she doesn’t believe them. I wish she could see herself through my eyes, I see her as this magnificent person, she is kind hearted, open with her emotions, has these gorgeous eyes that break my heart when they shine with tears. I love her hair and she has an awesome rack… She has an amazing style, one of those annoying people who throw on several things that layer up like she’s just walked off a quirky fashion show. Her heart is so big, she cares ferociously about those around her and has the most beautiful aura.
That is beauty. That is what counts.
We need to stop giving ourselves such a hard time and be more ready with compliments for ourselves and those around us. I am learning to accept compliments, I used to be embarrassed by them and make an argument as to why the person giving them was wrong…
Nice person – “I love your hair!”
Me – “Really? Have you not seen my roots?”
Nice person – “Your dress is beautiful”
Me – “This? It was really cheap. And Im wearing massive fat pants to fit into it”
WHY???? Why do we do this? And so I make myself accept a compliment graciously with a “Thank you, that’s so kind” It doesn’t feel right, perhaps immodest to do this but I know I need to learn to be kind to myself and so if someone is nice enough to be kind to me, I have to learn to accept it.
If you do only one thing today, make it something good for yourself, tell yourself you are awesome. Find just one thing that is amazing about you and say it out loud to yourself. (Perhaps do this at home rather than on public transport though as shouting “I have amazing breasts” on the bus is generally frowned upon)
Love Sam xxxx