Absolutely beautiful article, and I think it’s one that so many women – – and even men, to some degree – – will be able to relate to.
I remember someone broached the topic of self esteem a while ago, asking people for their own tips and thoughts on the matter. One of my pieces of advice was to remember that you’re often your own worst critic, and the things you don’t like about yourself physically often turn out to be things that other people don’t notice, or even like!
I’ve been in the position before of being complimented by people, and being amazed that they hadn’t noticed what I thought were glaringly obvious flaws.
Another tip I gave – – and this is something that I use myself – – is to simply keep your focus outside of yourself in a physical sense. I love looking at and collecting pictures of attractive people. I literally have thousands of pictures I’ve collected on my phone. It’s a great source of enjoyment and beauty for me. I love to analyze, daydream about what this person could be like in real life, study even minute details like the reflection in their eyes or sunglasses.
However, as soon as I start analyzing myself like that, or God forbid, COMPARING myself to someone else, the unhappiness creeps in. So, my approach is to basically enjoy how other people look, and not worry so much about how I look. It honestly reminds me of a clip my dad took of me dancing at one of The Roadshow concerts last year. I promise you, I FELT a lot cooler than I actually looked!
(I think this is a good time to mention that my reply here is mainly focused on the matter of insecurity over external beauty, because even though we know that internal beauty is what truly matters, I don’t think that simply acknowledging that will be enough to quell women’s insecurities, and knowing that as an individual still won’t change how much others examine your looks.)
Another useful tip is to focus on the things you do like about your looks. Even with people whom I consider to be unattractive looking overall, I can usually still find at least one attractive part. Eyes seem to be the most frequent one. I apply that same technique to myself: when I feel bad about how some part of me looks, I try to remind myself about the parts of myself that I do like.
Another important aspect of this for me is the dreaded “M” word: modesty. One of the most important reasons I was given for dressing modestly is that you want people to focus on who you actually are, rather than on your body. Obviously, that won’t hide obvious things like height, but it does a lot. We are SO MUCH more than that, and it’s incredibly misguided and disrespectful to us in our sacredness to make the attractiveness of our bodies the main measure of who we are and how we are viewed. Of all the aspects of a woman, her physical attractiveness should be at or near the bottom of the list in terms of importance.
When I go out, I actually have this wonderful sense of privacy, because I know that people aren’t getting to see and inspect all the little – – or big – –
flaws my body has. They don’t get to examine my thighs and butt, check my stomach’s tautness or lack thereof, stare at my scars and blemishes.
I’ve noticed that, dressed modestly (an modesty doesn’t just mean skin coverage; it also means that the clothing is not form-fitting) even women who are heavy-set can still look very stylish and attractive, in a way they wouldn’t be able to if they were trying to display every curve and show as much skin as possible.
I’ve even found myself sometimes wondering about bodies of the women around me who share similar values. I of course have a general idea of how large or tiny they are, but I don’t know in detail. I don’t really have a clear picture of how nice their breasts and butts and abs are or aren’t. And guess what? It actually makes me so happy, because I know that the guys who look at them can’t assess them in detail based on their bodies. It actually levels the playing field, and means that women who don’t have supermodel bodies don’t have to worry about that as much, and worry about getting dismissed out of hand because their bodies don’t fit the fake, unrealistic standards set forth by society.
Guys actually have to get to know them instead of just making a beeline for the perkiest bum and biggest breasts.
I think this is one of the biggest reasons I actually haven’t agonized as much over my body as many women seem to. I don’t have to worry about every square inch of me being analyzed day in and day out. It’s actually a very empowering way to move through the world. Think of it as…a state secret. Only a select few get to see. Everyone else just gets to wonder!
As a final note, I’d like to mention the standard line about how internal beauty matters more. Yeah, I know…it’s said a lot, and probably feels pretty trite, but I don’t know if people realize just how true it is. I personally have seen people whom I felt weren’t that good-looking, or even considered downright unattractive, yet when I saw other positive aspects of them – – how kind and generous they were, for example – – I was attracted to them on a deeper level, and that actually came to change my physical view of them. They actually became physically attractive to me because of the deeper elements that attracted me to them. Conversely, I’ve seen people whom, in theory, I should find attractive, but because of who they are as people, they just don’t float my boat.
by Maria Catt
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