I was very surprised that pretty much everyone who had something to say feels or has felt essentially the same way. We have all, even the most physically beautiful of the people I heard from, felt less than, humiliated, hurt or just unworthy at certain times because we didn’t feel attractive enough. Isn’t that crazy?? Especially when I think of how many gorgeous people I know.
I was horribly sick recently and it really put things into perspective as well. It was the worst flu I have had in a long time, with a sore throat so bad that swallowing brought tears to my eyes and made my ears ache. I was only able to crawl from the bed to the couch and back again for four days, completely weak and totally uncomfortable. It was misery! So this made me think about how lucky I am to be the healthy person that I usually am.
All of this beauty stuff is completely moot when your health isn’t there and I am going to try to give my body a little more love for being strong and carrying me every day instead of constantly examining it for flaws. I get so focused on the little stupid things at times that I forget to look at the big picture. Millions of people have bodies that are uncomfortable to be in or don’t work properly, or they have lost their families to genocide, or live in abject poverty. I am healthy and relatively affluent compared to much of the world. What right do I have to fester over minor details?
And then I read the most amazing quote by a life coach named Martha Beck: “The longing to be beautiful is fundamentally a longing to be free from shame.” How brilliant is THAT? And the other quote I loved is from James, who says that if you REALLY look at someone, you realize everyone is beautiful.
If you follow that first train of thought, then, what we really need to strive for instead of beauty, is shamelessness. When we’re really young we don’t have the filter to accept or reject what people say to and about us, we just accept it all and suffer the pain of that rejection.
But we are adults now, and have a choice. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who support us and then we can be shameless about who we are, and shameless about admitting our fears and insecurities. I am noticing that it is extremely freeing to just be honest about my own neuroses and sorrows, because the people in my life respond in kind. And then instead of feeling shitty about myself I get to feel happily connected to someone else. And isn’t that the whole point of being in these bodies anyway?
As for the second train of thought, I did a little experiment with myself and spent a day looking for beauty in every person I passed on the street. This is not an easy experiment for a misanthrope like myself, but it was really interesting, and I suggest you try it. I tried to be objective and look at humans the way I do dogs, because to me every dog I see on the street is gorgeous, no matter how ratty or fat or mongrel.
And it worked—I started to see that every single person had something, at least one thing, beautiful about them. Then after a short time of doing that I started feeling very open and happy, instead of the usual hating everyone and wondering if they got dressed in the dark. When you really look at people as individuals you stop comparing each person to the ridiculous standards we have come to accept as real and just see the interesting and lovely in each person’s face.
Those magazine standards just aren’t real and I don’t want to hang onto them anymore. There is a biological breeding imperative which naturally leans towards the symmetrical, but other than that, all that other stuff we take as truth because we see it in the media is just commercial sales. It’s airbrushing and some person that I don’t know or care about deciding that thin and tall or very, very young is the only kind of physicality that deserves love. So then we feel ashamed and unworthy because we don’t fit that mold, and we buy all sorts of products to try to get closer to that ideal.
And I’ll probably always buy the damn products because I know I’m just one moisturizer away from a perfect life, but I really, really want to stop buying the bullshit. It only supports a tiny fraction of the world population, and it definitely doesn’t support me or you in any kind of honest or loving way. It doesn’t even support the girls photographed with the products, really.
So I got a very freeing lesson with that last blog, I came clean about something fairly minor and got interesting information and some deep human connection in return. So I am all about being truthful these days. Truth equals beauty, forgiveness equals beauty, an open heart brings us beauty. And I know this entry is a little corny but I wanted to tell you that, and to tell you how grateful I am for everything you guys had to say on the subject.