I don’t discuss my struggles with my physical appearance…with anyone. Sure, I’ll discuss what women in general struggle with in this area. I’ll tell you my opinion on how the media influences women’s thoughts on their bodies, their beauty, and their worth. I can even discuss with you how different ethnic groups are attracted to different body types.
All this without getting into detail about my own struggles.
Deflect. Deflect. Deflect.
Well, I shall deflect no more. I’m taking on Sarah Markley’s project: to write about my struggles in beauty. So, let me take a deep breath, and I’ll dive in….
I always play this comparison ‘game’ in my head with other women I see. I bet I weigh as much as her. I could never pull off a haircut like that! That dress would not flatter me the way it flatters her. I wish I looked like her.
But if you asked me, I would tell you I’m happy with how I look.The truth? I’m happier with how I look. And that is an important distinction.
Since August 2008 I’ve been trying to take better care of myself . I’ve gone down about 4 sizes. I lost somewhere between 20 and 25 pounds and have kept most of it off. I stopped weighing myself because what I ate started to consume my thoughts. I don’t mean in an obsessive or unhealthy way, but in an ever-present, I-can’t-enjoy-my-meal kind of way because I was constantly thinking of trade-offs. If I eat this cookie that means I can’t have cheese on my baked potato later. If I have this glass of wine that means I have to only have one egg at dinner, not two.
I’ve always, always struggled with my weight. I was never happy with my body and shopping was always a painful experience (especially with thinner friends). I dreaded swim suit season. I always tried to hide my body with optical illusions in my clothes. Black is always slimming…
Not only that, but I really don’t like looking at pictures of myself. I don’t have positive thoughts when I see myself. I see flaws. Things I want to change but can’t. I don’t see me, I see everything I’m not. I know I’d look better with blue eyes. If only I was 2 inches taller. If only my face wasn’t so round. Why can’t my eyes squint less when I smile? Why is my skin so translucently pale?
I only look in the mirror long enough to put on my make-up . I don’t really focus on what I look like. I don’t take in my appearance as a whole. I zoom in on the details. Yes, my eyeliner is (mostly) straight. No zits to hide today. I missed a stray hair while plucking.
I usually think ‘deformed’ when I see myself. I know that certain features I have look a certain way because a health condition I was born with. I think if I didn’t have this condition I’d be prettier. That is hard to swallow most days.
There are things about how I look that I like: my dark hair; my deep, emerald green eyes; my curves; my feet.
I want to redefine beauty in my life. I want to see beauty as a feature of the heart, and not just the body. I want to let go of the weight this word has in my life. I want to be fully happy with myself- my character, my heart, my appearance. I want my passions to make me beautiful. I want my laughter and my tears to make me stunning. I want others to be attracted to my heart. I want to be sought out for my words of truth and not my advice on the best shoes. I want beauty to mean more than my appearance. I want to expand its definition in my mind.
I want to see beauty in the tender look between lovers, in the masterpiece that comes with each sunset, listening to a friend get fired up about their relationship with God, a passage of Scripture that touches my heart, the smile that comes when a friend is celebrating, the sticky hands of a child reaching out for one more cookie, the held back tears that comes with farewells, the smell of coffee early in the morning, the sound of rain falling outside my window.
How do you define beauty?