Updated: Mar 7, 2020
Initiating a dialogue on the subject of beauty always has the potential to open up a can of controversial worms because it’s just one of those eternally touchy subjects. Everyone wants to be beautiful but most people are conflicted about what defines beauty and whether they match up to the definition.
Beauty on your own terms
The good news is we’re swiftly moving away from the era where only the super flawless skinny models grace the covers of sought after “beauty” magazines, or even set the bar for what beauty ought to be. We’re moving towards an age where individuals can freely decide what beauty is and run with it. In which case nobody should have an excuse to feel anything less that absolutely stunning, right? Apparently this isn’t the case. It would appear that even with the freedom to define beauty on our own terms, a lot of us still don’t consider ourselves beautiful, Why is that? Here’s my theory...
Beauty is moody
I’m not even referring to the “moodiness” of beauty as dictated by media, where for a few years freckles, scars and big foreheads are the furthest attributes from beauty. Then the next minute, the same things that made one “ugly” are now the standard for beauty. I’m speaking about YOU on a day-to-day basis. Why is it that on some mornings you feel like a goddess in pajamas; but other days you’d rather hide under a rock. It’s the same face each time, so what changed between Tuesday and today?
Something completely invisible decided on your behalf whether you would lead with "I'm beautiful today" or not. Getting to the root of that invisible informer may help clarify what the building blocks defining your beauty might be.
1. Childhood Informers
This is where most of us built the foundation of our confidence and self-image. If our caretakers praised ONLY our looks on Sundays when wearing our Sunday best, then we start to associate beauty mostly with external factors like clothing, hair do’s etc. If the basis of your being teased, bullied or even being praised or popular was your looks, you may find that you’re overly sensitive to what others have to say about what beauty is. Consequently you will tend to mold yourself to a beauty defined by what others say. The examples are endless when we’re talking childhood informers. The point is we have subconsciously internalized a lot over the years, and perhaps haven’t taken the time to trace these foundational invisible informers. Take the time to visit these hidden places and start to redefine a few defining moments on your terms.
2. Sociocultural Informers
I was raised in different communities that defined beauty just as differently. In the hood where I first lived with my grandparents, aunts and everyone; having a small stature meant that I wasn’t well fed. In this environment someone was constantly trying to feed me hoping that I would put on weight. Later when my folks moved to the suburbs it was the opposite, and overtime I started to feel I wasn’t skinny enough for that community. I was constantly being told that the same bum that was too small at my grandma’s was now too big. On one hand, I had my well meaning grandma trying to get rid of the ‘dots’ on my face and my cousins teasing me about them; on the other hand my teachers adored my freckled face. I was conflicted! On whose terms was I then beautiful or not? When it comes to sociocultural informers, I reckon keep what is positive and detangle yourself from anything negative or confusing.
Photo taken by Martin Machaj
Yes the romantic kind… You can walk into a relationship feeling like the least beautiful person on earth but because of this human whose opinion you value in a very deep and special way, when he/she says “you’re beautiful” and when they treat you like they value, acknowledge and cherish your internal and external “beauty", those low self image voices inside your head start to disappear. Suddenly nothing anyone says outside of your love bubble carries much weight. These relationships are powerful informers (choose well. Lol). Sadly the opposite is true, if your partner is constantly comparing you to others, or says things like “If you just had bigger this or smaller that” or “Why don't you cook this way and dress that way” etc. then it can have the opposite effect. How do we navigate this terrain? I’d say refrain from putting it all on him/her, rather take full ownership of your self image journey so that whether that person is there tomorrow or not you are still intact about YOUR Beauty.
I hope this brings you closer to defining beauty on your own terms.