LOVE MONTH: Feeling Beautiful & Loving Yourself

by - February 04, 2015

Every Wednesday in February, I'm planning on skipping the usual makeup and beauty reviews and instead focusing on sharing ideas about love and beauty with my readers. Thank you so much for reading, I hope you find some value here!

When I started thinking about writing this, I really had to look into myself for how vulnerable I'm willing to be right now. I'm a product of the same society as anyone else, sometimes a slave to my own insecurities, and most of the time it seems easier to pack those insecurities up and hide them away rather than draw attention to them. After all, who wants to draw attention to their flaws and insecurities? But it's February, a month generally steeped in hearts and flowers and professions of love, but that rarely focuses on the most important love of all - self love, and sometimes when you're talking about something as important as this it's important to put yourself out there.

The people that I love are the most beautiful people in the world to me. It doesn't matter what their flaws are or where they fit in the narrow construct of what it means to be beautiful in world that seems to value beauty above most things. They are beautiful because when I look at them, I see all of the things that I believe make a person beautiful. In the women I love and admire most, I see strength of character, intelligence, courage, wit, and yes, beauty. I look at these women and I do see their physical beauty, whatever it is about them that makes them uniquely beautiful. It doesn't matter what the world says is beautiful, because that version is far too narrow. We all possess beauty, inside and out, and it's important to acknowledge that. So why do I look in the mirror and see my big, jiggly ass or my imperfect skin first rather than looking to all of the characteristics that I find beautiful in others? Why don't I see myself the way that the people who love me see me?

As little girls grow up, they take in the messages that are all around them and those inform the way they see themselves. When you really think about it, you can probably pick out a few of these messages, both the subtle whispering ones and the flashing neon ones that have helped to inform the way you see yourself. I don't believe there's anything wrong with wanting to feel beautiful, but I think it's important to be mindful of how you measure your own beauty in order to be happy and healthy as people.

1. Don't Allow Beauty To Define Your Worth

Oftentimes women are told that being beautiful is the most important thing, but I think we all know in our hearts that that isn't true. We are whole people, beautiful in our humanity and in the things that all combined together make us who we are as human beings. Beauty isn't all about what's on the outside, it isn't shiny and perfect and outer. I think that most of us feel the most beautiful when we are the most ourselves, when we're being true to who we are, when we're striving to be who we want to be. There will always be times when we don't feel beautiful, but remember that your own beauty is and always will be your own. And remember that even when you feel Unpretty, you're still worthwhile, you're still a whole person, and you should not be discounted - particularly by yourself.
2. Be The Gatekeeper Of Your Own Confidence

Recently I saw a compilation of men's reactions to a woman accepting compliments over social media in regards to their appearance by saying something along the lines of, "Thank you, I know." Generally, the reactions were to accuse the woman of being arrogant, to rescind the compliment, and to assure her that she wasn't as hot as she thinks she is. I think this is because our society perpetuates the message that potential sexual or romantic partners should be the gatekeepers to our belief in our own beauty, that a woman should only feel beautiful under someone else's gaze. Those kinds of reactions enraged me. It's hardly any wonder that women struggle with feeling beautiful when they've been taught that the measure of their own beauty is up to someone else and that feeling confident and recognizing their own beauty is something to be shamed for, something negative. I believe that the kind of person who would react like that to a show of unabashed confidence is one who is threatened by that confidence. Being confident is good and there is no shame to be found in expressing your own confidence. The people who are worth having next to you are the people who will acknowledge and encourage that. Sometimes feeling confident takes a lot of effort, self reflection, and hard work - Don't let anyone try to take that away from you.

3. Choose Your Own Brand Of Beauty

I love makeup. Sometimes I like to play with different parts of myself, different facets of my identity, and one way to express that is with makeup and clothes. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm a feminist who loves makeup, who thinks that every woman has the right to decide whether or not she wears makeup and what it means to her. I don't think that beauty resides in what we put on our faces and bodies, it's so much deeper than that. That said, I find that makeup can make me feel beautiful and confident when I need a bit of a boost, sometimes it can even feel a little bit like armor, and I think that's okay. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not beautiful because your choices are different than theirs. Makeup or no makeup, beauty resides in all of us, it's up to use how we choose to express that. Or not express it, whatever the case may be.

4. Take Care Of Yourself

Making healthy choices feels good, it really does. Self care is important and most people will not only feel more beautiful when they're eating right, getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep and just generally taking time to do things that are good for them, but others will likely see it as well. Health tends to glow. This isn't to say that you're not allowed to feel beautiful when you're not taking care of yourself as you probably should or when you're not at your healthiest. I think that people should always feel beautiful, because you are always beautiful, but sometimes the best way to feel beautiful is to prioritize and take care of yourself. Self care is important, it builds confidence and encourages positive feelings about one's self.

5. Have Fun With Beauty

Whether beauty, as something that is on the outside, is to you something quiet and soft or something loud and vibrant, choose to have fun with it. I always think of makeup, fashion, and accessorizing as a kind of play. For me, playing with different expressions of the facets of my identity harkens back to playing dress up as a kid. It can and should be fun. Whenever you start to take anything too seriously, it can feel heavy and burdensome, so if you maintain an aspect of play and fun it won't feel like an obligation or work and you'll be able to enjoy it for what it is.

6. And most important... Try To Look At Yourself The Way You Look At Other People You Love

It's easy to see all of the brilliance and beauty in other people, but sometimes it can be really hard to see yourself that way. We put so much pressure on ourselves and end up seeing ourselves in a magnifying mirror rather than a wide lens that encapsulates all that we are. When you start to look at yourself and see those bad things, try to stop and take a moment to remind yourself that you're putting all of those negative things onto someone that you should love unconditionally and that so much beauty is getting lost in that picture. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, that you are loved, and that you have a lot to offer the world. Sometimes the most important thing is just taking a moment to remember your own brilliance and beauty.

I'm no expert on these types of things and I don't really feel like I'm bringing anything particularly new to the table, but I think these are things that sometimes we all need a reminder of. My goal is to one day be able to look in the mirror every morning without seeing my big, jiggy ass and the imperfections in my skin and all of the other things that could be better or more and instead see everything that I am and recognize just how beautiful that is. Not in spite of my big, jiggy ass and my imperfect skin, but because of them. Like everyone else, sometimes it's far to easy to measure myself against impossible beauty standards and find myself wanting, because that's what I've learned to do, but when I really think about it I know that those things aren't making me happy or healthy. I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I'm myself. I am beautiful because I choose to believe that beauty isn't an impossible goal, but something that we all inherently possess. You are beautiful. You are beautiful because you are yourself. The trick for all of us is to really believe that, or at least try. 

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