What does beauty look like? Who determines what makes somebody beautiful? Why do we put so much value in certain physical attributes when we describe people as beautiful? What does that do to those of us who don’t fit those standards?
Today I had a moment at the gym when I found myself comparing the way I looked to the other woman who was a round ahead of me. She was society would most likely describe as attractive or beautiful. She was tall, very thin, toned, and could go through each station without ever taking a break. I started comparing the way she looked to how I looked and the fact that I needed to take short breaks. This beating myself up lasted for probably five minutes, before my warrior inside me started telling to me to knock it off. That I have come so far and overcome so much and that I am there for me. For the rest of the round each time I punched or kicked the bag I repeated my mantra. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worthy. I am enough. I am loved. However, this idea of beauty stuck with me for the rest of the day and therefore required that I write in order to process and move forward.
When I got home I immediately went and took a good hard look at my whole self in the mirror. I realized that for years I hid behind my body and used it as a way to keep people away. As I began my journey back to self I knew that I had to love my body again, and I started that by making it stronger and healthier. I knew I had to exercise to change the outside, but also to fight back against the fibromyalgia. It is now a part of my everyday routine and makes me feel good physically and emotionally. I know that I may never be a size 2(or even a 6), but my body is changing and becoming more toned and fit. I have learned to love the curves of my body and each day am more confident in the way I dress to emphasize these beautiful parts of me. I have learned to love the features of me that reflect where I came from and who I take after in my family. My body is far from perfect, but it is gotten me this far, given me three beautiful children, and still has so many adventures to take in this life.
What I realized as I stood there looking in the mirror though was that I am so much more than what you see on the outside. That what truly makes me beautiful is things you cannot see with your eyes. Things that to often our society looks down on as weakness or as something separate from beauty. My true beauty lies within me and for most of my life I have kept it hidden behind the wall to protect, especially when there was an outside force trying their hardest to destroy that beautiful part of me. The warrior within protected this part of me from the inner demons and those that fed the demons. Now with each passing day, and with each opening up of my true self more and more of this beautiful part of me is being released. You see what most people don’t realize about me is that my soul is full of so much love, passion, hope, and giving. That all I really want in life is to help others reach their highest potential, to use my passions to spread good, to give others hope when they feel lost, to love and to be loved. My soul is learning to shine through everything else and that is what I want people to see when they look at me.
Beauty, at least outer beauty, is a construct of our society that for many is impossible to achieve. The sad part is that even if some can reach those goals, they will never truly feel beautiful because they will always compare themselves to another. I know that I still have some work to do in this area myself, but truthfully with each day I learn to love all of me more than the day before. I know that my outer shell is not for many people, but I know that it will be for somebody. I am not meant to conform to meet somebody else’s needs, but to love myself. My body is beautiful, because it is healthy and strong. I know that my soul is beautiful and that it is meant to be shared fully with people in different ways. I have to be kind to myself and remind myself when those times come up that I want to compare myself to those that are not me. I need to yell at the top of my lungs (okay, really yell it inside my head) that, I AM BEAUTIFUL!!