I feel more beautiful now than ever in my life.
In my 20’s, 30’s and even mid-40’s, I held a mistaken belief that other people’s view of my beauty mattered. Their complimentary words raised my head a little higher, sparked some extra spring into my step. Yet, I found that the relinquishment of control over my own beauty meant that their words (or the absence of them), could change how I felt about myself for the worse, too. Once we allow others to make us feel good, we have also assigned them the power to make us feel badly.
So, I took that power back.
I have come to believe that beauty is a choice, one I’d rather make for myself than allow someone else to make for me. I feel most beautiful when I define, then own, my beauty from the inside-out, rather than waiting for it to be affirmed (or not) from the outside in.
It’s true that my husband, Jon, is unfailingly complimentary of my corporeal being, even and especially when I’m sporting his plaid pajama pants and ratty sweatshirt, not a stitch of make-up, hair all askew. He tells me I’m beautiful when I laugh, which is often. No surprises there; beauty is only brain deep. We see beauty in others when we feel its impact within ourselves.
There was a time- a long, long time- when all I could see in the mirror was what was wrong, imperfect, not good enough, in need of cover-up. I’ve heard too many girls and women share this experience, it’s heart breaking. I’ll never forget the day my own stunning teen-aged daughter said to me, “I feel ugly.” My response was not helpful; all I could do was stammer on about how terribly mistaken she was. I was shocked- my own daughter! I’m a feminist, and openly, verbally conscious of what the social standards mean to girls. I’m from the Free to Be You and Me generation, for crying out loud! How could I have failed so badly that my own daughter could feel this way about herself?
She learned it from me.
She heard my effusive proclamations of her beauty morning, noon and night for years, but had not yet generated an abiding sense of her own beauty, and neither had I. She grew up watching me subtly avoid mirrors, worry about my looks, notice my gray hairs and wrinkles. She was watching me all the time, and the unguarded reality of my actions trumped my words.
I love how I look as a middle-aged, ‘almost 50’ woman. I like how I feel about my beauty, and about wearing clothes and make-up (or not) that I love. I enjoy getting my hair done in styles that suit my life, with increasingly less regard for what is stylish or what others might think of my look. I make the comfortable shoe choice a lot more often than not, and never hesitate to slap on some glittery eyeliner when my internal sparkle generator needs a little outside reinforcement.
Will you make this choice with me? Will you choose to feel and be beautiful? We can do this, especially if we work on it together.
Start by looking around at the women you see every day at Women@Work and other business events, in your neighborhoods, look at women you work out with, walk by on the street, your friends, your ‘not-so-much-friends,’ and train yourself to see only the good, only the beautiful in these girls and women. Tell them you see it, because even though the higher purpose is for us all to fall in love with our own beauty, the act of calling the innate beauty out in other women will help it grow inside of them, and your kindness will be salve on the hurts, the fears, the unforgotten words that would have them feel otherwise. I know the more you do this- the more we do this, the more we will only see the beauty in others, including ourselves.
Then, give yourself a long, close look in the mirror. Smile at yourself! Really, I mean it, go ahead. No one is going to see you, except one person, and she’ll be smiling at you! It’s hard to stop smiling at someone who is smiling at you, so hold that smile as long as you can, as long as you would if you were smiling at your daughter, your sister, your very best friend. Hang on to that feeling, and let it ignite your gratitude for all of the beauty that is radiating back you. Choose to see beauty only, over and over again, without fail, without exception, until it becomes the whole of what you see, and who you are and are meant to be. Beautiful.
Join in on the conversation and follow me on Twitter! I love to hear from you! @CoreyJamisonLLC
This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.