Today is my birthday. 41 years ago on this date around 6 am the world was graced with the arrival of The Drama Mama. It’s been an interesting ride. I spent a long time running away from the person I thought I was, and am now claiming and embracing the woman I am. It’s been a long road, with many many miles still to go, but it’s worth it.
Today’s guest is another friend with a less than pleasant past like mine with a huge heart and talented way with words. She talks about beauty today, and every word she writes is true. As we celebrate my new year, this is one of my goals. I need to find all the beauty that is me, inside and out, and KNOW it.
Do you think you’re attractive? I’m sure everyone picks apart their features from time to time, but for some, like me, the verbal reinforcement I heard in my childhood and teen years of not being pretty is something I’ve had a hard time supressing.
It’s hard enough when you are comparing yourself to everyone else already, but when boys point out that your body is far more attractive than your face (“She’s great, if you put a bag over her head” Thank you Cory for saying that out loud in 7th grade. Or that you are “not as pretty as the girls he usually dates but he is willing to get past that..” (Thank you Brad for saying that out loud after I had already agreed to be your girlfriend), or tells you that you’re beautiful but then treats you like you’re worthless (Thank you Matt), it can give a girl a complex.
That complex can vary from “why bother with making myself look nice when it doesnt matter” to “if I were only more beautiful, I would be treated better and be more desirable to so-and-so”. The media pressure is ridiculous for both genders, but I find it harsher for girls and women who not only have to deal with comparing themselves to their peers but who also know that guys and men have been programmed to expect that unobtainable standard of beauty.
As a woman in her thirties, I’ve come to some sort of peace about my looks. I’m pretty enough. I’m aging fairly well. Other women don’t have to fight so hard to maintain a healthy weight, have better bone structure, have a more stereotypically attractive figure than I do, or have this or that which I fight against being envious of. But I have strengths too. I have great posture, and carry myself confidently, regardless of how much I weigh or what I happen to be wearing. I’ve been told I have a beautiful smile and kind eyes, both of which are likely to last the majority of my life. I love my dark hair, though I have to color it now for it to look like it used to. I love my freckles. My body is and always has been healthy and strong, and I don’t fight against chronic pain or illness. I can even find beauty in the fact that my body shows signs of having carried, birthed, and nurtured four children, and be grateful that I have battle scars from that priviledge that other women long for and will never know.
Isn’t this the hardest place of all to find beauty? You can preen and polish, buff and wax, sculpt and mold, adorn and accessorize the exterior. But finding beauty within yourself? That can be a real challenge. Believing the kind words others say about your honesty, integrity, gentleness, generosity, or recognizing talents you have that bring joy to others, like cooking, baking, artwork, jewelry making, being a great listener, being the person your friends can call when they need someone to come sit with them at the hospital with a family member, or the 4 am friend who can talk someone down out of a panic attack. There are so many ways we can be considered beautiful on the inside.
But tending to the beauty you find within yourself can be just as hard as recognizing it. Even if for a brief moment you can identify things about your character that are beautiful and worthwhile, allowing yourself to keep believing them can take some discipline. There are so many day to day things that erode our sense of worth, if we let them. Small oversights, shortcomings, mistakes, and details that get lost in the overwhelm of parenting and working and living.
Maybe this is foreign to you. Perhaps you have had a healthy self image for most of your life and believing in your worth is not a challenge. But let me tell you, it’s a battle for me. A never ending battle to keep from playing back the unkind words I’ve heard regarding my abilities, my weaknesses, my decisions, my failures. On a bad day, my brain can just overwhelm me with them. It’s hard for me to love myself, and when I’m faltering with that, it’s even harder to love other people. But to combat the self-doubt, and even self-loathing thoughts, I have music that I can choose to listen to that speaks truth into my heart, I have friends that can speak kind words to me and remind me who I am.
I know there are things I do well, there are talents and gifts that I possess that are unique and cherished by others. But if I’m being really honest, some days it takes an awful lot of courage for me to hear and believe the voice that says “You are doing the best you can, you are strong, you are better than this, you are loved, you are beautiful, you are valued”.
But it’s true. I am full of beauty that is distinctly my own, and I try to radiate that into the lives of others with the love I show them. I have written before about being tender and openhearted toward people, and I have learned that it’s a trait that others find desirable and beautiful in me. I’m a good listener, and very accepting of others. I’m becoming more confident in my self expression in writing, and find that others appreciate my honesty. I love to encourage and compliment others, and try to make them feel beautiful and worthy of love and acceptance.
What makes you beautiful? And do you believe it?
And because it’s my birthday, and this is a party, WOOT!, here’s a very fitting song for my intentions for today: