Saturday, July 9, 2011

How Does My Brain Look? Personal, Random Thoughts About Beauty.

Ashley, @ Nourishing the Soul wrote a beautiful piece this week, entitled Why I Get Tired of “You Are Beautiful”

Mica seems well aware of his many attributes beyond physical beauty.
I read it, then started to type in my comments, only to realize that I had way too much to say to limit to a comment box. Ah, the beauty of having your own blog!

Being frequently told you’re beautiful, or even pretty, is a set up. It’s easy to become dependent on other people’s opinions of you—of your physical appearance, as well as your other attributes. And then if they don’t happen to comment, you are left questioning “Do I look okay?”

If your greatest merit is being attractive, or thin, what will happen if these change? What else will you have to feel good about? Aging will certainly be something to fear, and normal body changes occurring with each decade will be impossible to accept.

If you and others focus solely on your attractiveness, it may leave you questioning what other aspects make up who you are. Are you smart? Witty? Affectionate? Loyal? A good parent or friend? A good writer or cook?

When I was about to graduate from college, I decided it was time to be taken seriously. My full head of attention-getting curly hair needed to go. I wanted to be seen for who I was and what I was capable of, not judged by my exterior. I graduated with the shortest haircut ever. And no, it was not even the style back then. Was it necessary? Maybe not. But at that time it reassured me that people were looking past their first look at my appearance and seeing what else I had to offer.

Summer of 1983, before the haircut.
For a significant part of my early college years I suffered from a common condition known as imposter syndrome. I believed that they couldn’t have really meant to accept me to this top university. My acceptance must have been based on my looks, I assumed. I needed to prove otherwise, that I had perhaps unseen strengths, as I went through college and then ventured into my next stage of life. Perhaps it sounds contradictory, but I needed to modify my appearance in order to get past relying on it.

Consider this.

Must you wait to be at that certain size or have that perfect appearance to like yourself and appreciate yourself? What do you like about yourself—physically and on all other levels? And if your mind's a blank for ideas, ask those who choose to spend time with you. What do they really appreciate about you and find beautiful?

If you don’t like yourself, why would you even bother to take care of yourself—to treat yourself with appropriate nourishment, to respect your hunger and your fullness, to listen to your body’s limits, like when it says you are too tired to exercise (or feel better after a moderate workout)?

And consider what messages you convey to others. Do you greet them with a physical assessment, such as  “Did you lose weight?” or “You look great”. Would you want to have the pressure of such comments on you? And would you even hear them the way they were intended, or project your own thoughts into them? Can’t we greet friends and loved ones with “How are you?” or “I’m concerned about you”, or “You seem so full of life”?

Perhaps if I were into high maintenance I’d grow my hair out again; I’m past the point of fearing that I am just about my exterior. But who has the time and the patience? And besides, the haircut’s already scheduled. Now if only I could accept the spreading silver-grey.

Thoughts? Might I remind you I always appreciate hearing your feedback on these posts, so please comment!


  1. Can I just say how much I truly appreciate you and your blog. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I was "the pretty girl" for a long time, and I'm having a hard time finding an identity outside of that. I feel very lost.

    One thing I love is my dry humor, so I'm working on embracing that and other things as a part of my identity. I'm also a great listener. Thank you for sharing your personal story.


  2. I was never really the pretty girl. I was actually always kindof a wallflower until my mid 20's when I became the "healthy, fitness, nutrition workout girl." That was me, that is how everyone identified me. That identity took over completely and eventually had some really negative impacts for me.

    I have now gained some very healthy weight and have begun to get reaquainted with myself. It is very cool and completely terrifying at the same time. It is like asking myself who I am and trying to develop that, instead of saying "well this is who I am supposed to be" and then forcing myself to do it.

    I love your point about greeting people with a comment about their appearance. When people do that to me I either feel validated or question what is wrong that they didn't say something. The sad thing is that I greet my friends with those "gosh, you look great" comments. I will be conscious of that moving

    Great blog & a fabulous post.

  3. I really love your blogs! Thanks for putting them out there. I always seem to find some inspiration from them, and realise that I am not the only one out there thinking the way I do about food

  4. First off I would like really send my gratitude for this blog. I appreciate your writing for a multitude of reasons. One of those being that it isn't just directed towards individuals with disordered eating, you also speak of self-esteem and just improving one's quality of life. I appreciate that you also have a tone of a realist. "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails". You warn others that it isn't going to be an easy whether it is the road to recovery or changing our thoughts. It is also encouraging to have you challenge your readers even if they are not patients of yours. I also found it refreshing that you disclose information about your own experiences to help others. In some of your past blog entries it is evident that you clearly read a lot and put a lot of extra work into your practice. Thanks for sharing with all of us, I look forward to reading more posts

  5. Thank you all for your lovely comments. The feedback really helps me motivate to keep these posts coming. And love the analogy, Christine! I haven't heard that one in awhile.

  6. I wrote a blog recently on beauty and what it has come to mean. It just got published today to the elephant journal....