What makes me look beautiful is that I’m looking back at you. I often notice people looking at me, and I used to think it was because they thought I was particularly unattractive, or particularly attractive, or that I had spinach in my teeth, or whatever, depending on the day. And that might be true at any given moment, but with age—I’m 34—I’ve begun to believe that the main reason someone’s eyes might fall on me is because they see mine being open to the world. I make eye contact with everyone on the street—everyone! Old people, babies, classically beautiful women, unconventionally striking women, men with acne scars that bespeak a hidden past, the homeless woman who walks through the subway car asking for change: I can’t keep my eyes off the faces of my fellow humans. It turns the act of “looking beautiful” from something passive and essentially out of my control into something active and on my own terms. Does this make me more physically “beautiful”? Well, perhaps: When two people’s eyes meet, gentle impulses reign, impulses that will make my big brown eyes be what one remembers over, say, my crooked teeth. But more important, it helps me continually take in the beauty of the world. And just as people who see the world as an ugly place will find the grotesque wherever they look, when you seek beauty, you find it in every face you see.
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!