Having to see myself as physically beautiful or attractive is actually exhausting. Don’t blame me. It wasn’t a word I knew until I was being deceived by those who wanted something from me. It’s a foreign feeling that I’ve been trying to get on board with. I have to stand in front of a mirror and repeat it over and over. Some days it comes easy, but the confidence is usually seeping from another part of my life.
When I was learning to bolster my self-esteem, I was told I have to start by seeing myself as beautiful. And I get where that is coming from. And on my journey to beautiful I’m here questioning, do I have to be? I may or may not be, based on others’ beholding of me … but if I decide to believe I was not, and stayed that way, would I lose the other qualities that made me an amazing person? Is anyone feeling what I’m feeling? Let me say more.
When I have to think about features to list when I’m boosting my self-confidence, beauty is not the first thing I mention, but it’s definitely the one thing that has a question mark behind it instead of a stop.
I don’t think I’m ugly, I’m just not comfortable having to be beautiful.
I was never described as a beautiful child. Maybe I blossomed late. Up until I met the sweet-talking boys who would say just about anything I didn’t think of myself and beauty in the same sentence. I was often described as stubborn, possessed by a demon, loose, recalcitrant, useless, sad, ugly, disobedient, and first I was very skinny, then very fat but always smart. No matter my behavioural traits or insults as a kid, I was definitely smart. And I was definitely hard headed.
I think not everyone has to think they’re beautiful. I don’t think I have to describe myself as beautiful either. I think it’s better if I’m competent, dependable, friendly, smart, hardworking, caring, kind, empathetic, healthy and happy.
I think it’s okay if other people see me and the first adjective they think of is beautiful. It’s human. That’s their reality. It doesn’t have to be mine. I don’t have to behold beauty in the mirror. It doesn’t have to do something sparkly inside me.
I can’t speak to what privilege comes with being beautiful either. I however know the pain that comes with it. I knew there was a quality that often exposed me to harm and attracted all kinds of people to me… Is that beautiful? I thought that was more a vibe thing. No? I can’t speak to harnessing the privileges that come with being beautiful, but I have been told to expect an easy life because I’m beautiful. Ironically I haven’t always had it easy. I’ve had a lot of the glory of my hard work stripped away because they claim my beauty got it for me. Annoyingly I looked in the mirror for days and I really could never come to terms with what they meant. I used to think it was my self-esteem, but at this point, I just want to put that weight down.
Beauty is a social construct, ranking third to power and money. Power and money can only give you themselves: power and money. If you have power, you have power. That’s it. Power doesn’t accrue you happiness or kindness or friendliness. So it’s like beauty. In a world where the rules of beauty are constantly changing, it’s very hard to climb the ladder of money and power without contorting your body and your entire personality often. People who see their beauty before seeing other qualities in themselves can be described as shallow because oftentimes they don’t have other qualities, or money or power. So they hold on to the beauty as if it was as powerful, as power. But just like power and money, it is fickle. It can all be gone in a moment.
One thing I know for sure is the rewards that come with all the other qualities I possess. And I’ll bet my destiny on that. Because beauty fades. Beauty is to be beheld only for a fleeting moment. And what happens when I lose an arm or a leg? Or if I go bind? What happens when I get pregnant and my nose becomes twice my face? Will I still be beautiful then? Will I have to start doing the beauty mantra in the mirror all over again knowing that I have indeed changed and I’m probably lying to myself?
But I’ll always want to be strong, brilliant, and fun.
In a world where being beautiful is a prerequisite for femininity, but not for masculinity, I will from today, remove “I am beautiful” from my self-affirmation list. I can breathe even when I’m not beautiful. I can feel it if a pin pricks my skin. I can be happy or sad. Being beautiful doesn’t get me much out of life, because if all the beholders are right and I’m indeed an angel that fell from the heavens, then I will never be able to harness it’s power. It was a useless tool that the crafter should have given someone else who knew how to use its power to their advantage. And I’m okay with wasting this gift. Whoever isn’t, it’s their hangup.
I won’t always be beautiful and attractive. But I will always be my many other beautiful qualities.
Whatever journey of beauty you’re on, I hope you see beauty in its many forms, when you look into a mirror. You are deserving of everything good in life and none of it should be measured by how you look.