Banu Sekendur takes a deeper look at a societal wound that effects both men and women, and invites us to do our part in healing it.
I have been around countless women who are beautiful but don’t believe they are. Talked to stunning women who could stop traffic while crossing the street yet can’t enjoy or appreciate their own beauty. I am personally very familiar with the struggle (we all go through on some level) to believe that we are beautiful just as we are. No ifs, no buts. Not in comparison, not in spite of. I explored some of the reasons why and took a deeper look at this societal wound that’s been bleeding for decades now. And this isn’t just a woman’s problem; it effects men as well.
When I say “feeling beautiful,” I mean inside and out. When I say “beautiful,” I mean knowing and accepting the instrinsic beauty of your soul, feeling worthy without “a reason.” This encompasses both self-love and self-worth. When we don’t feel beautiful, one or more of these things are going on inside us:
(1) We opened our eyes into a society under the spell of unrealistic (and cookie-cutter) standards of beauty, and we’re struggling to find our place in that picture.
(2) Beauty is power and we are not comfortable with power. We have been victims of people misusing their power. And we have not really practiced having authentic personal power yet.
(3) We’re carrying the baggage of the past when we were the unpopular girl at the prom or the last guy selected for the baseball team.
(4) When we look in the mirror we see our rejected self. We see the reflection of hurtful words written all over our faces. We’re so clouded by these that we miss the adorable dimple, the bright smile and the soulful eyes.
(5) It feels unsafe to shine. We don’t want to be subject to jealousy and cattiness. We’re scared of slipping into arrogance. So we stay small by believing that we are not beautiful.
(6) We think of all the ways we betray ourselves, give way more than we receive or tolerate mistreatment because we don’t think that we deserve something better.
(7) Our ability to feel a lot and feel deeply is labeled as a weakness in modern society, so we’ve not flexed those muscles in positive ways nearly enough.
(8) When we were young and vulnerable to outside influences, someone (well-meaning or otherwise) criticized our appearance (See 3).
(9) We have not yet discovered who we are deep inside, nor have we learned to accept and love ourselves as a whole person (the good, the bad, the ugly, the smelly and the sexy).
(10) We are waiting to be perfect to start appreciating, celebrating and freely sharing who we are.
…and the list goes on and on and leaves us with the negative effects. When we don’t feel beautiful, we miss the opportunity to be present to life. Our self-love container shrinks to the size of a beer bottle cap. As a result our capacity to give and to receive is diminished. We are short with our children and our partners, we spend too much money on shoes and sabotage our own success and happiness. Everybody loses.
If you are a man reading this: Please understand that we women (just as many of you) live with any or all of these reasons inside us every day. It is not your job to heal us but if you can help us with your presence, your integrity, and your ability to reflect back on what you love about us (other than our looks), we can then transform these societal and familial wounds inside us. Then we can be the better partners, friends, sisters and mothers that you deserve. You are a big part of the change that needs to happen in the consciousness of humanity regarding societal rules and expectations around beauty and self-worth.
If you are a woman reading this: You may identify with only one or all of the reasons I have listed above and likely could add a few of your own. Know that you are not alone and that millions of women on this planet struggle with this at varying degrees and at some point in their lives. We, as women, all share equal responsibility to help each other heal this giant societal wound. We can support each other by recognizing and verbalizing the beauty we see in each other and by practicing collaboration instead of buying into competition. We help heal this wound by loving ourselves just enough to continue our inner exploration in order to find our authentic self so our sense of beauty and worth becomes unshakeable.
We are all in this together.
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