There is a female, a distant friend, who always tells me that I’m beautiful– my response is always to thank her for being “kind”……………………..
There is a lady who always downplays the compliments I give, yet, she’s one of the of most stylish that I know,……………………….
There is a little girl, with sparkling eyes and a gloriously full set of hair– still, she thinks she’d look even better with weave………….
There is a woman, with the most amazing platinum hair that falls over her smooth caramel skin, who still can’t help feeling like she’s the rejected duck………….
I could go on and on with stories of how so many women I know– even ones that most would easily categorize as stunning– are much more comfortable assigning the title of beautiful to others, than they are to themselves; sadly, I admit that I am not exempt.
Most days, when I look in the mirror, my mind says “you look okay”. That sentiment, however, is always accompanied with a note to self of all the things I need to improve. Pitiful, right? Occasionally, when I’m feeling more generous about my looks, or on a day when I’ve gotten particularly fancy, I’ll upgrade my words and say I look “nice“, but hardly ever does the thought of “beautiful!” emanate from the image I see.
And why should it? When what I see in the mirror is an oversized bust, a stomach not flat, childhood scars, and terribly uncomfortable flat feet. What I’d like to see? What could tip “nice-looking” over the beautiful edge? Well, for starters, maybe a smile like Gabrielle Union’s, a Kelly Rowland physique, beautiful eyes like Vanessa Williams, and Halle Berry’s sex appeal. With all of those characteristics, it would be impossible for me not to feel beautiful– right? Well, possibly– but, seeing as how each of these women have also admitted to insecurities regarding their looks– Gabrielle with her lips and nose, Kelly with her complexion, Vanessa with her skin, and Halle with even feeling sexy at all– there is also a great possibly that I would not!
It makes me wonder then– If even the most “beautiful” women, according to mainstream society, struggle with defining themselves by that word, are women as a whole just an insecure, screwed up bunch, or, is there something intrinsically wrong with the concept itself? The former explanation, although a bit simplistic, would definitely fit the decades long narrative of women as being emotionally, unstable creatures, but I don’t think that explanation fits. It seems more likely that women struggle with beauty, because it’s in fact an illusion– a myriad of idealistic traits and characteristics that women are supposed to have– in theory– but, that they often fall short of ever attaining in reality? Even so, day after day, we measure ourselves by that imaginary stick, only to feel inadequate when we inevitalby fall short.
Maybe we could begin reconciling what it means to be “beautiful”, by simply redefining the term: by throwing out the old ideas, especially the ones that rest solely on physicality, we could develop new ones that go far beyond the superficial. For example, when I envision a beautiful person, my mind immediately goes to people who are charismatic and confident, and to individuals with their own unique sense of personal style. I also count among the beautiful, those who let you see their heart by way of compassion and their ability to show love– in addition to that, intelligence is supremely attractive to me. Mostly, though, I think beauty radiates from people who are happy–those that can laugh and make others laugh with them, and who in turn, know how to wear the hell out of a smile.
From now on, I’ll do my part in changing the perception of beauty by applying those standards to myself; If I can be a person that embodies the traits that make me see others as beautiful, I should be able to also see beauty in me!