I know that true beauty does not mean having long hair, sparkly eyes, a tiny figure, or a perfect smile. True beauty means being alive and living life to the fullest. I am a 3-year survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and when I lost my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows, I came to realize that it mattered what is on the inside, not the outside. Now I feel very silly for crying during my senior year prom because I hated my hair-do. But I did not have the life experience that has taught my true beauty is found in many other qualities besides desired perfection.
I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am kind, sensitive, graceful, a listener, a believer, and a great friend. I am beautiful because despite the binging in the past to the constant assumptions that I need to be thinner I have grown and am growing more everyday into a confident and strong woman.
I am beautiful.
i used to look in the mirror and focus on the things i wanted to change. my pale skin. the size of my legs. the scar on my nose. my freckles. the shape of my arms. nowadays, i look in the mirror and focus on the things i love. my pale skin. the size of my legs. the scar on my nose. my freckles. the shape of my arms. no, nothing has changed on the outside. but something has changed on the inside. i decided that i am good enough for me.
To me, beauty comes from within. True beauty shines from a beautiful soul, it’s inviting and warm and incredibly attractive; you can’t help but be wrapped up in it and drawn in to it. I think I have a beautiful soul that comes from the love that I’ve been given from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s the confidence and security that I have in His love that makes me beautiful.
I find my blue eyes from my Mama beautiful, my nose from my Daddy beautiful, and my legs from my Mom beautiful. God has allowed me to see myself as beautiful and to want to share that beauty with other women as encouragement. It has taken me a long time and quite a journey of self discovery and self awareness to get here. God’s had to break me of a lot of rebellion, idols, and unbelief. It’s my hope and prayer that I can share that journey with other women to encourage and strengthen them in their journeys that we’re not alone in our walk. Life is made to be lived together. It’s time we stop pretending we have it all together when inside we’re all in need of love…and a little beauty!
I’ve always had a “fantasy” of being described as beautiful as Christmas morning. I chose this photo because I’m in my PJs, no make-up, excited to start the day, not worried about anything but the love and generosity that I have for my family. Christmas morning comes with the beauty of love and life and a childlike faith that is so innocent and pure. I think my beauty in this photo comes from within. It isn’t fussy or over-the-top, it’s just simple and plain, from the inside.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
–Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech
***Edited to note that the quote is originally from Marianne Williamson, but was used in Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Speech***
My eyes that change from blue to green are beautiful, and even more so because I got them from my Grandmother. My undereye circles remind me how lucky I am to be my Mother’s daughter, and my rosy cheeks come straight from my Dad. I am beautiful because I am unique, yet tied to my loved ones in every way.
I have been unhealthy in the past, and it has made me a stronger and more confident woman. I know that my body, when treated properly, is capable of amazing feats. I know that I have good qualities that extend far beyond any hairstyle or flat stomach, and I know that they are what I want to be valued for. And so while I make an effort to live in a healthy and active way, I must also make an effort to remember that it is the internal results of that lifestyle that are most important. Because having a goofy grumbling laugh like my dad is beautiful, and it’s the moments when I get to share that laugh with others that make life beautiful for me.
If these statistics aren’t alarming then I don’t know what is. The fact that 45% of boys and girls in grades 3-6 want to be thinner just about kills me. Since when did childhood include worrying about being skinny enough? I saw this list over at Beauty Message, a wonderful site dedicated to self-love, and knew I had to share. The great news is that we can all help change these statistics, but it has to start with us. Do you love yourself? Do you know that you are beautiful just as you right now? Does the thought of sending in a photo of yourself freak you out? If it does, I encourage you to tell yourself you’re beautiful, find ways to treat yourself kindly, and start healing within.
- 42% of first, second and third grade girls want to lose weight. Collins, M. “Body figure perception and preferences among preadolescent children.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 10 (1991), pp 199-208.
- 45% of boys and girls in grades three through six want to be thinner; 37% have already dieted; 7% score in the eating disorder range on a test of children’s eating habits. Maloney, MJ, McGuire, J. Daniels, Sr., and Specker, B. “Dieting behavior and eating attitudes in children,” Pediatrics 84 (1989) pp 482-487.
- 46% of nine- to eleven-year-olds say they are sometimes or very often on diets. Gustafson-Larson, A. M., and Terry, R. D., “Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth grade children.” Journal of the American Dietetic Assoc. 92 (7)(1992), pp 818-822.
- 70% of normal weight girls in high school feel fat and are on a diet. Ferron, C. “Body Image in adolescence in cross-cultural research” Adolescence 32 (1997), pp. 735-745.
- During puberty, most girls’ bodies need to gain, on average, 10 inches and 40-50 pounds, including more body fat. Friedman, Sandra Susan. When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence. Firefly Books, 2000.
- Females need 17% body fat in order to menstruate for the first time and 22% to have regular cycles. Cooke, Kaz. Real Gorgeous: The Truth About Body and Beauty. Norton, 1996.
- Over half of the females age 18-25 studied would prefer to be run over by a truck than to be fat, and two-thirds would choose to be mean or stupid rather than fat. Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.
- A survey of college students found that they would prefer to marry an embezzler, drug user, shoplifter, or blind person than someone who is fat. Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.
- Up to 35% of normal dieters will progress to pathological dieting and, of those, 20 to 25% will progress to partial or full-blown eating disorders. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., and Estes, L.S., “The spectrum of eating disturbances,” Intl Journal of Eating Disorders 18 (3) (1995) pp. 209-219.
- The death rate for eating disorders is 5 to 20%. American Psychiatric Association, “Practice Guidelines for Eating Disorders.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(2) (1993) pp. 212-228.
- Americans spend $50 billion annually on diet products. Garner, David W., PhD, and Wooley, Susan C., PhD. “Confronting the Failure of Behavioral and Dietary Treatments for Obesity,” Clinical Psychological Review 11 (1991), pp. 729-780. $50 billion is more than the Gross National Product of more than half of all the nations in the world, including Ireland.
From the Council on Size & Weight Discrimination, website, www.cswd.org
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
It all started a couple of weeks ago. A petty disagreement turned into a heated discussion, which I then took a step further by the statement, “I’m sorry I’m not as pretty as I was when we got married.”
The thing is I truly believed that. Maybe that’s why his next statement hurt so much.
“You’re not the girl I married. The girl I married was so confident in who she was that she already KNEW she was beautiful. I think you’re the most beautiful girl in the world, but you’ll never believe that til you believe that about yourself.”
My husband said this to me in love, but selfishly all I could think was that he didn’t think I was the same person. The thing is, I wasn’t, and that is what hurt the most. Knowing that I had unknowingly lost myself in marriage and my own self-doubt was the worst feeling in the entire world. That, and the fact that I had dragged my husband into defining my self worth and beauty.
When we met I knew that I was lost in disordered eating, but I also knew that I was beautiful. I knew I could walk into a room and OWN it if I felt like it. I knew that and I believed it, which is not a common quality among a lot of 20 year old girls. As time went on though and I started to settle into our relationship, little changes started to happen. I started to gain a little weight (which was actually a good thing for me at the time). I wasn’t able to work out 2-3 hours everyday anymore. And I was stuck in jobs that I hated with no sense of what I actually loved to do.
Nate became a sort of safe haven for me, one where I felt secure and loved and like everything was right in the world. And y’all? That’s a GOOD thing for a marriage to be, but that can’t be EVERYTHING a marriage or a partner is to you. I can say this because that’s exactly what I did…I made Nate my everything.
If he was in a bad mood, I was in a bad mood.
If he was having fun, I was having fun.
If he was fawning over me and telling me I was beautiful, then I was beautiful.
And the times that he wasn’t…well, I think you get the picture.
The problem is that no matter how much I love my husband, he is only human and he will fail me. I am only human and I will fail him. The problem was in me thinking that I needed him to define who I am rather than letting myself and God’s grace in my life do that. Kind of a hard job for a human, right?
So let me ask you: how do YOU define beauty…is it found in a teeny tiny waist? Full lips? Long blond hair? What is beautiful?
Beauty is the ability to love yourself as you are. To KNOW that you can own a room when you walk in. To be able to laugh and smile when your face is old and wrinkled and you have no teeth…because life is worth laughing and smiling about. I can honestly say that I wasted 14 years of my life with disordered eating and defining myself by how others treated me. I’ll be turning 27 this month (ancient, I know), and I’m not going down that road anymore. Not to be morbid, but we’re never promised tomorrow, and I’m not wasting one more second of this precious life worrying about a number on a scale, if I am wearing mascara or not, or letting someone else (even my husband) be the defining factor of whether or not I’m beautiful!
Faces of Beauty is a blogsite wholly dedicated to women posting pictures of themselves and shamelessly announcing to the world that they are beautiful. The women on Faces of Beauty are already changing lives and making a difference in the world with each word they say. I would encourage you to join them by taking some time to reflect on your own intrinsic beauty and then submitting your own Faces of Beauty photo and paragraph. You can find instructions on that here, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know this is dramatic, but there’s no reason in the world why anyone should ever feel less than perfectly beautiful just as they are. My hope and prayer today is that YOU would know this about yourself and that your life would be infinitely better because of it!