Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An exercise in self-appreciation

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don't know it, all of that doesn't even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It's not like you have forever, so don't waste any of your seconds, don't throw even one of your moments away.”
― C. JoyBell C.

A few months ago, I did a whole study in self-esteem with the guidance of a therapist.  Each week, I had exercises to work through, some of which were very uncomfortable.  Through this experience, I am better equipped to deal with those loud, nagging voices in my head telling me that I'm not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough....not ENOUGH in general.

But as time passes and I get further away from the intense exercises and away from the gentle, affirming voice of my therapist,  I find myself slipping back into some patterns.  I look in the mirror and my eyes IMMEDIATELY train down to the tummy which is not as flat as I'd like, the too-large boobs and the increasing network of lines across my face.  I have to FORCE myself to smile and say (out loud):  "You are beautiful JUST the way you are."

The truth is we are ALL beautiful.  We are all perfectly designed and unique in our own ways.  I think of some of my friends and the FIRST things I think about when I recall each one to my memory is the thing that makes them most beautiful.  For one friend, it's her eyes...they IMMEDIATELY come to mind when I think about her in any context.  For another, it's her gorgeous hair.  Still another is her wide, bright smile.  For yet another,  I think about the dimples in her cheeks.  If you asked each of these women how satisfied she is with her appearance, she would probably begin by listing her faults.  I think each of these women is beautiful...because of appearance, yes, but also because their personalities come through their outward appearance and they GLOW with fire and real beauty.  They, sadly, would most likely disagree.


We need to RISE up and realize a few things about life, beauty and how to be truly happy.

  1. You are NOT as FAT as you imagine.  (That's a line DIRECTLY from Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen.  If you haven't heard it in a while, I suggest you follow that link now.  Seriously.  I'll wait.).  Here's the thing:  our bodies are largely due to genetics.  I've seen REALLY SKINNY people eating CRAP and a lot of it.  And they stay skinny.  But that doesn't mean they're HEALTHY.  I won't lie:  I am often MISERABLE when I see a picture of myself.  I've thickened over the past ten years.  I still haven't done much about it other than to focus more on enjoying healthier foods.  I yo-yo diet and exercise like a fiend for a month and lose 15 pounds...and then gain it all back after a chocolate-fueled feeding frenzy.  It sucks.  And it makes me feel like I suck.  But...here's the real truth:  I am NOT as FAT as I imagine. 
  2. We are not defined by our skin.  This means everything.  Not the color of it.  Not the wrinkles in it.  Not the amount of it.  We are defined by who we ARE.  We are defined by the number of times we sit down with Crayolas (I still own my VERY OWN BOX).  We are measured by the generosity of our spirits.  We are loved because of the truth in our hearts and the kindness in our voices.  Our skin has nothing to do with who we are and we are not loved because of it.
  3. Only YOU are uniquely YOU.  There is no one else in this world exactly like you.  Even if you have an identical twin, you have separate thoughts and feelings.  In addition to all the other amazing things about you, you have one gift that no one else has:  the gift of you.  Any time you spend time with another person, you are sharing that gift.  YOU are precious and special and never, ever diminished.  
Women spend their time comparing themselves to everyone else.  Admit it.  You can't HELP but sneak a glance over at the People magazine during the checkout line and notice that Jennifer Aniston's clavicles are so CLEARLY visible. Or in a crowd of women, there is a cacophony of voices in your head:

She's thinner than I am.  

Oh, her red hair is so pretty and mine is so DULL.
How is her butt so FIRM?  Mine sags down to the back of my knees.
I should have worn more/less make-up.
My hair is frizzy. 
My ankles are fat.
My skin is too pale.
And on and on and on...   

I intend to rise up in protest against those voices.  I'm not perfect in any way.  I can give you a laundry list of everything that is wrong with me...inside AND out.  But I've had enough of those voices telling me that I'm not good enough.  I'm not smart enough.  I'm not pretty enough or thin enough or....enough.  

I AM enough.  And you are, too.  We are MORE than enough.  Now we need to live it.

This post was inspired by the Real Beauty Sketches.  If you haven't seen THOSE, you should take a few minutes to watch.  And then to believe that you are beautiful.  


  1. The Real Beauty Sketches is very worthwhile. Seeing beauty in those around us comes naturally if we take a moment to look, our failure is not expressing it often enough.

    1. Where's the "like" button on Blogger? :)

  2. Amen! It is high time we women began to see ourselves as our friends and loved ones see us. Enough with the negative self talk! So glad I found your blog. :)

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! And you are absolutely right...we DO need to see ourselves that way while being the best US we can be. Thanks for reading...AND for commenting!