Beauty, the Light Within
Recently, I surveyed women to learn what they really think about their own beauty. I wanted to know how they felt about their own inner and outer beauty as well as what they admire in other women.
Interestingly, although 71% of the women surveyed considered themselves to be beautiful on the inside, only 14% considered themselves to be beautiful on the outside. Some of the reasons given for not feeling beautiful on the outside had to do with being overweight or out of shape and they criticized other physical aspects of themselves as well.
When asked to describe a woman who they considered to be beautiful on the inside and/or the outside and describe characteristics of that woman they would like to possess, not a single physical characteristic was sited. In 100% of the responses, the characteristics of women they admired had to do with behavior or character strengths.
Some of the answers are listed below:
- Smiles, even when things are tough
- Positive outlook
- Kind to others
- A good listener
- Gives honest feedback
- Strong and confident, yet self-less
- Always there when others need her
- Says “no” when she means “no”
- Her laugh
- Her sense of fairness
- She makes each person feel they are important
Some of the women who responded to the survey mentioned that they are aware that their inner beauty comes through in their outward appearance to others. Yet when offered a “magic wand” to change something about themselves, the majority chose physical characteristics.
It seems that what we appreciate most in other women has to do with how they “are” in the world versus how they look. When it comes to evaluating ourselves however, we take a much more physical and critical approach.
Women and girls berate themselves for having a belly that is not flat or a bust line that is. We ignore what is great about ourselves and lament about what we imagine we are lacking. It’s not uncommon to hear a woman say, “When I lose these 10 lbs, then I’ll be happy.” Or, “When I can fit in a pair of size 2 jeans, then I’ll be happy.” Or, “I’ll get a face lift, breast implants, a tummy tuck and liposuction and then I’ll be perfect!”
Why are we so critical of ourselves? What do we gain by forcing our bodies to conform to unnatural ideals? Did you know that the average super model makes up only 4% of the female population and is 5’10” tall and weighs 110 lbs? The other 96% of the female population averages 5’4” tall and weighs 142 lbs. We can’t stop the media from bombarding us with messages that we are only as good as we look, but we can stop believing these messages.
Women are intelligent, insightful and influential in business and in communities. We have an inborn ability to be compassionate, gentle and loving. We know what is truly important in life, but we have been criticizing ourselves for so long; it has become second nature to put ourselves down. If what we admire in other women is qualities like confidence, honesty, kindness, inner strength, intelligence and the willingness to serve others, why are we so hung up on our own appearance? What would happen if we turned our attention to what is beautiful and incredible about us instead of filling our minds with thoughts about what is “wrong” with our bodies?
Our negative thoughts about ourselves are all learned beliefs. We were not born into this world worried about how we looked or what we weighed. We came into this world as pure love and beauty, and we expected to be loved just as we were. Somewhere along the way, we were taught that we were not lovable unless we conformed to a certain standard. We began to compare ourselves to others and find things about ourselves that did not measure up. Sadly, some of us never stopped.
It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to others. Each of us has a natural body weight that is healthy for our particular body; we have our own eye color, hair color, skin color, etc… No two snowflakes are alike, no two stars and no two grains of sand are exactly alike. What makes us beautiful is our uniqueness, the fact that we do not look like anyone else on the planet.
We are the spirit within our body, we are not our body. Our spirit has been with us in many different bodies, as a tiny infant, a toddler, a child, an adolescent, etc… Our bodies are constantly changing, old cells die and new cells are born every second. There is wisdom in striving to keep our bodies healthy because our bodies house our spirit, but an obsession with physical beauty is destructive. We can’t stop the aging process, but we can change the way we think about our bodies.
When we feel good about ourselves and treat ourselves with the same love and compassion that we would extend to a close friend, we will naturally gravitate towards self-care which will result in a healthy body and mind. When we stop criticizing ourselves and learn to love and appreciate the beauty that is within us, we will create more joy in our lives and that will translate into outer beauty.
Today, I would like to challenge you to participate in a 30 day transformation exercise. The first part of the exercise is to look in the mirror and write down 10 beautiful parts of your body. It can be as simple as “I have beautiful eyebrows”. Then write down 10 beautiful and unique things about you as a person, such as “I am compassionate”. Keep this list with you wherever you go. You might consider writing each beautiful thought on a sticky note or index card and posting them throughout your home, office or in your car. The point is to put them where you will see them several times each day.
Here’s the final part of the challenge – Each day for at least 30 days, become aware of the thoughts that slip into your mind and tell you that you are not good enough. You won’t be able to catch all of the thoughts, but when you do notice one, stop yourself and replace it with one of your 20 beautiful thoughts about yourself. By the end of the 30 days, I believe you will notice a reduced number of self-critical thoughts and you will feel happier and more content with yourself. This challenge will not work for everyone, but if it works well for you, don’t stop at 30 days. Actually, don’t stop with 20 beautiful thoughts about yourself…write down 100!
If you decide to take the 30 day challenge, I would love to hear how it impacts your life. Please send an email to me at Linda@Yourempoweredself.com