You hear the message all the time: Beauty comes from the inside. But what exactly does that mean and how do you find it through the onslaught of messages from the media about how beauty should look?
This can be a very confusing concept because we do live in a culture that has very specific ideas of what beauty is and these concepts are constantly shifting and changing; it can be hard to keep up with these ever increasing expectations.
When we buy into the belief that beauty is only one certain look and we feel we must copy this look exactly, we often set ourselves up for never feeling good enough and never being able to attain beauty.
We often forget that these messages are just constructs of our culture and if we travel somewhere else we will find a different definition of beauty.
In our culture we tend to value and approve of being thin. If you go to a poorer country and are thin, people tend to look at you as poor and lacking the means to buy food. Nothing has changed in you; the culture has changed, and therefore the definition of beauty has changed. Thin is thin and heavy is heavy. There is no inherent good or bad with either.
So what do you do? How do you let go of this notion that in order to be beautiful you need to look like the models in the magazines, or the celebrities in the media (this applies to both men and women)? How do you let go of cultural constructs of beauty and find your beauty on the inside?
I think we start by looking at our Attitudes, Motivations, and Actions, as this is where we have control.
Your attitude reflects your perspective towards beauty, towards yourself, and towards the world, and we actually do have a choice about what attitude we adopt. Can you begin to create a dialogue with yourself that encourages an attitude of acceptance, gratitude, kindness, openness to thinking outside of the box, and recognizing the limitations of buying into one singular notion of beauty?
The next step is to look at your motivations and actions, which are directly linked to one another. For the record, I actually think it is very important to take time and put effort (Actions) into the way we look. I believe that putting in that time and thoughtfulness is a statement of self-respect, a declaration that I am valuable and worthy of being taken care of (Motivation).
We can take time and put effort into looking our best as a means of self-respect and dignity, or we can try to look good because we are trying to cover-up that deep down we feel worthless and are trying to prove ourselves, or be better than someone else. We can also neglect our bodies and let ourselves fall apart because we lack self-respect.
I believe self-respect is the cornerstone for finding inner beauty and getting honest with ourselves about our Attitudes, Motivations, and Actions can allow us to live beauty rather than strive for it in one single image.
With much love and gratitude, Jenn
PS — Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions below. I really do love to hear what everyone has to say!