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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Sometimes the synchronicity of events can be a blessing, inspiring transformation. Such was my experience this morning when I read Geneen Roth’s article about “beauty”. Last evening, on a break in my schedule, I decided to cross off an unpleasant task on my current “to do” list. The task was trying on underwear in a dressing room of a major department store. A very helpful young woman delivered several styles and sizes of undergarments for me to try on, eager to help me find some items that I liked. Before I knew it, I was fully exposed, trying on one thing after another and beginning to feel horror. I wanted to run away.

I am a woman “of a certain age”, have birthed three children and survived not only a severe eating disorder in my 20‘s but a life threatening SUV accident that left me, after 5 surgeries, on life support only three years ago. My body bears witness to all of the above and is a conglomerate of imperfections. And those imperfections never seem as blatant as when one is in a small dressing room with surrounding mirrors and lighting that shows every blemish. I felt horrible about myself and though I “know better”, the feelings were still there. I hated what I saw and wanted to disappear. Can any of you relate?

I drove home in the pounding rain wanting to cry yet knowing I am bigger than this. These are media inflicted standards that I had allowed to upset me. I know who I am and I am not defined by my bodily scars and evidence of being the age I am. Yet there was lingering guilt and I felt shame – and plenty of judgment. It was as if a horrific event had happened and I had narrowly escaped. Or had I?

This morning, I received Geneen Roth’s newsletter, Geneen is a noted author and workshop facilitator in the area of eating and body issues. The newsletter featured an article titled ‘Everlasting Beauty’ and spoke to how we, especially women, degrade ourselves by how we criticize our bodies and judge our physical attributes. This incredibly insightful article suggests that beauty is something that can ‘save the day’, something that we look to for inspiration and peace – not something that is found in some state of physical perfection. Her inspiring words conveyed an opportunity to look at life with a changed lens…one that honors the beauty of the world and the gift of being alive. And who can’t use a bit of that?

As I reflect back on my dressing room experience, I realize that when I looked into the mirror, I wasn’t really “seeing” what I was looking at: my eyes that love what I love; my smile that, while slightly damaged by the accident, is sincere; nor did I look at my hands …the ones that soothe my grandchildren, hold a bouquet of roses from my garden or wave to my neighbor when we pick up our newspapers at the same time. No – all I looked at were the parts of me that I don’t like and want to dismiss…parts that I actually dislike. And, as I said above, I know better.

Don’t we all? Don’t we all know that we are beings of beauty…if we just choose to see ourselves that way…if we refuse to let the pressure of media imposed norms for physical appearance dictate what we wish to see? Treat yourself. Give Geneen’s article a read and see if inspiration and a new idea of beauty is your experience!

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