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RSI: Redefining Beauty

Beauty. Cuteness. Attractive. Adorable… A young man called me beautiful last night. Part of me wanted to smile and say thank you shyly. Instead I said “I know, and thank you for noticing!”… Still with a smile, but not the kind that usually goes with feigned humility or embarrassment. I accepted his compliment. Once I did, the voices in my head took over, telling me that he probably didn’t really mean it. I told me that I’m only pretty to a very select few kinds of people, let alone beautiful. I told me that I certainly shouldn’t have been so forward about accepting that compliment. Luckily, I’ve always been good at faking positivity in the face of soul crushing negativity. Seamlessly and without hesitation, I continued the exchange with witty quips and flirty sass.

. . .

When he left, I laid back on my couch and focused my energies on quieting the voices in my head, lest I give myself nightmares.

This picture and the “article” it leads to inspired this conversation…

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

… because as striking and terribly cute as this little girl is, that she is being touted as the most beautiful girl in the world, is very telling. As it is, beauty standards make living life as “the-not-average” difficult enough. Imagine that this little girl will eventually crumble under a standard that she’ll be held to at least until puberty, if not for the rest of her life. How is she going to deal with her first pimple? How will she deal with the mean people determined to knock her off of a pedestal she didn’t ask to be placed on.

I won’t lie to you; my initial reaction involved merciless judgment and disagreement. I started making comparisons to pictures of children who more closely fit my definition of beauty. Then I just saw her; simple and innocent. Then I remembered last night, and my reaction to being called “a very beautiful woman”; and concluded that This is a thing I could stand to Do Better.

So much of what we believe and think is really a reflection of someone else’s thoughts and perceptions. We are–after all–the summed total of every interaction. Our programming can be influenced, changed, and manipulated by the simplest of passing glances or backhanded compliments. For example, it isn’t so much that I don’t think I’m beautiful, because I do. The problem is that I know I don’t fit what the masses have deemed as beautiful. Just looking at the little girl, you can see that the generally accepted form of beauty involves pale skin and light eyes. I have neither. Suddenly, my understanding of beauty is fading into the background, getting overtaken by others’ definition of it.

Here’s the thing: I can acknowledge that beauty standards are impossible and cruel while appreciating someone’s beauty, including my own. I can also disagree with someone’s definition of beauty while accepting that they are entitled to their definition. Most importantly, other people’s definition of beauty doesn’t diminish mine… nor does it diminish yours. You are allowed to be a feel beautiful, even if you don’t fit into the tiny box where society keeps its acceptance.

This is my wish for this year: to be and feel beautiful, happy, and at peace with my position in life, wherever that may be. I’d also like to help and inspire others to think and feel similarly. If I was the kind of person to make a New Year’s resolution, this would be it. So:

Happy New Year!

Happy Anniversary (to me)

and, as always: Do More. Require Better.

Dig Deep.

You are beautiful.

and that’s My #50percent.