This morning as I was fairly mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed I passed an article that claimed to have beauty secrets from India. This is a common occurrence …articles that tout unknown products and rituals that will bring beauty. I’m sure there are numerous articles spouting the statistics of how often I am barraged by similar posts. And I’m sure it’s a lot. I am fairly careful about who I associate with on Facebook and what kind of advertising I allow in my news feed because I am ridiculously susceptible to such blather. I often finish a Facebook session feeling bad about myself.
I get a similar feeling when I go to the mall. For the past six years we lived on a remote island in Alaska and access to stores with mannequins was nonexistent unless I was traveling. Now that I’m back in the “lower 48” though I can visit big stores as often as I please. And I’m realizing that I need to be careful. When the weather was unbearably hot I decided to take my two youngest to the play area at the mall so they could expend some energy. We spent a good amount of time enjoying the small kid area with toys and slides but also walked the halls with the numerous retired people trying to simultaneously exercise and beat the heat. And after about 30 minutes of filling my head with images of skinny mannequins-“Mom, where are there heads?”-I realized that my thoughts were not positive or uplifting. I was suddenly feeling like I needed new clothes. And not only that but a different house with certain scented candles and well placed decor. I am so quick to fall into the trap of “I’m not good enough”.
Whether it’s Facebook, or the mall, or *gasp* Target, I am unhealthily weak when it comes to remembering my value after being faced with ads and fancy clothes and beautiful trappings.
I don’t think I’m the only one.
So, this morning after seeing the glaring article title about beauty secrets I stopped and reminded myself that…
Beauty is not a secret! And to be beautiful I don’t need secrets. Or certain clothes. Or that perfect flower arrangement.
Don’t get me wrong, being surrounded by beautiful bits that remind me of God’s amazing creations is not bad. Having a house where I feel comfortable and safe, where there is a certain level of organization and objects that spur positive feelings is good and even important. Having clothes that fit and feel pleasant on my body is integral. But there’s a line somewhere that I need to stop crossing. On the other side of that line is a place where I have to live beyond my means to fit in. Where I have to starve my body to make sure I’m pleasing to others. Where I give in to the pressure to know and follow religiously the secrets that will seemingly make me beautiful. Where I become a slave to money and magazines and facebook articles and fitness routines that tell me what I have to have to be liked by those around me.
On the positive side of that line though, is where the real beauty is. Where the truth is. When I’m there, in that good place, I’m not only more accepting of myself but others as well. In that place the secret to beauty isn’t a secret at all but a commitment to live openly and honestly, a promise to be true to myself and love my body for the places it can take me and the ability it gives me to be present and love others, an agreement with my inner beauty to let others see it on the outside and to simply show up in my life. And for me, that is a much more rewarding place to be.
I yearn for the day when I can look objectively at all the negative messages that are hurled at me because of the world I live in, the world we all live in. But for now, I am going to take it one step at a time. I’m going to talk to myself and my body the way I would a dear friend. I’m going to slow down when I’m presented with the next secret to success and happiness and tell myself a truth, just one, any truth to bring my mind back to the present moment. The moment where I’m good enough, beautiful enough, and loved enough. The moment where I remember that beauty is not a secret or made by secrets or kept only for those who know the secrets. Beauty is love and truth and authenticity and vulnerability. And every single one of us have the ability to show and experience the elegance inherent in being true to ourselves and exhibiting our unique beauty.
Here’s to living a beautiful messy life surrounded by people as imperfect and beautiful as I am. I don’t need the secrets. I don’t. I need the truth, because that’s where the beauty is that reminds me how amazing all of the differences are and how exciting life is when I show up. I am beautiful. And so are you!