All my regular readers have probably noticed by now that I post on Saturdays. Last week I didn't (Christmas etc.) and this week, it's going to be a Friday post - mostly because I want to reflect on something I learned in 2010, and write about it...in 2010.
I have discovered a very simple truth and have thought about it time and time again this past year. When I created my Facebook Year In Status, I noticed it was one of the first statuses I posted in 2010. I pondered it again this fall, and it soon became the inspiration for song lyrics (stay tuned!) The truth was solidified yet again as I walked through the mall the other day.
I'm sure many women and girls have experienced this plight:
You're walking around the mall. The din of voices puts you into a slight trance. There's so much to look at, your eyes glaze over a little. Too many lights, too many products, too many people...but of all the shoes, tops, earrings, leather jackets, bags and other things to observe at the mall, aren't the other people the most interesting? Here's just an example: your focus zeroes in on a girl with, let's say, gorgeous, thick, long, sleek, shiny jet black hair. You think, "I love her hair. Her hair is beautiful." You then think, "I wish I had her hair," believing that if you had gorgeous, thick, sleek, shiny black hair, you'd be beautiful, too. You then realize that you could pop in to Shoppers Drug Mart, buy a box of black hair colour, some extensions, a hair straightener and some product that promises to turn dull hair full of breakages into perfect, shiny locks...but...would you actually look good with that kind of hairstyle? Probably not. This leaves you feeling substandard because it's improbable that you would achieve the same hair success as that girl. You wouldn't look as good as that girl, if you had her hair. Then, all of a sudden, your own hair is really terrible. This is depressing.
There are many variations of this same experience. Women are on a quest to be beautiful - and there are so many parts to it, this can be exhausting: hair, skin, eyes, body, clothes... I wonder: how many people have been subscribing to this faulty logic? I have, for years.
During the time I was at the mall, this kind of logic may or may not have woven through my brain several times, without me trying to dissuade it, until I realized that all the girls I noticed beautiful things about were all very different from each other. Whatever does this mean?
There is more than one kind of beautiful. In fact, there are many kinds of beautiful.
There are SO MANY kinds of beautiful.
You have your body, your hair colour, eye colour, skin colour for a reason...don't fight it!
My skin is VERY fair. For years and year, I fought it. I was determined to be tanned. I got sunburns when I was younger. I remember, when I still lived with my parents, I would run outside in the summer if I had ten minutes to spare, just to get in the sun to "darken up." I tried desperately to be outside in the sun each day to "build my tan." Why? Because every single girl in magazines, movies, advertisements, commercials on TV - they were all tanned! So again, I reasoned, "if I'm tanned, then I'll be beautiful."
Looking back, being fair-skinned, this was a hilarious thing to do.
Thank goodness for the recent skin cancer awareness and the even more recent Twilight craze. Now it seems that many more girls are desperately trying to look like the porcelain Bella Swan, or one of her vampire friends. This craze has been very good for me. I don't even have to try! (haha)
Even so, I have to confess that it was only just this past summer, in 2010, in my 29th year for goodness sake, that I finally decided to stop fighting it. I have fair skin. My body has no idea what "tan" means. I will never be tanned. But this can still be beautiful. In fact, I actually wore sunscreen every day this summer, even if I wasn't going to be outside for a long time, and I didn't get one sunburn.
There are SO MANY kinds of beautiful.
I'd like to encourage you to be your OWN KIND of beautiful. Don't try to be like someone else. Being your own kind of beautiful is what makes you so beautiful. Your personality, your character, your passions - these qualities all shine from the inside of you, making you a beautiful individual inside and out. Hold your head up high because you are you, and you are beautiful. You are a wonder.
OK. You might think, This is nice to read. But we ladies need to hear this, REGULARLY. It's amazing how one compliment can fuel your self-esteem for days. If the cashier at the grocery store tells me she likes my hair, I think, "Yes! Take that, girl with sleek, jet-black hair!" The cashier's compliment pushes my shoulders back and my chin up, and makes me feel lighter. Being told you are beautiful has a profound effect on you, doesn't it?
As today is December 31, I have my New Year's resolution in order: I'm going to tell people they are beautiful (or one of beautiful's many derivatives) REGULARLY, in 2011. We need to hear it - it helps us believe it. A little compliment goes a long way. It's not hard to do.
Oh, and a little P.S. for male readers: I know men don't have the same need to be told they are beautiful as women do...but men need to know how important it is to tell the women in their lives they are beautiful. I also understand that men need compliments, too...just more in the "handsome/strength/capability/gentleman/protection etc.etc." kind of department, so this also part of my New Year's resolution.