One moment, you catch your reflection and think, “Damn, I’m gorgeous!”
The next moment or the next hour or the next day, you catch that same reflection and think, “Damn, I’m hideous.”
Same reflection, same you.
So what’s up with that?
And more importantly, how can we spend more time basking in our beauty and less time trashing ourselves and policing our flaws?
Dear one, this is not
a superficial rah-rah pep-talk.
How we see ourselves — and thus how we treat ourselves and thus how we invite others to treat us — is deeply important.
Our happiness, our wellbeing, our sanity, our futures, all depend on it.
What you get
is what you see.
When you see yourself as gorgeous, your eyes (and other sensing organs) have a filter over them, so to speak. You’re filtering for what’s good, valuable, delicious, delightful, and just right about you, right now, as you are.
However, when you see yourself as hideous, your eyes (and other sensing organs) are filtering for what’s bad, worthless, flawed, broken, displeasing, and wrong about you.
Same you, different filter.
From birth, we’ve been taught to use the self-depreciating filter, to use forensic scrutiny to find our flaws and then — by any means necessary — fix those flaws.
From birth, we’ve been taught how to police ourselves to be pretty, pleasing, perfect, pure. If we are deemed pretty, pleasing, perfect, and pure by the filtering eyes of our families, cultures, religions, and world at large, then we can breathe a sigh of relief, feeling (even if fleetingly) acceptable, valuable, and lovable.
If we fall off our self-policing, or can’t measure up to family’s/culture’s/religion’s/world’s exacting standards, the penalties are steep and vicious:
Unacceptable. Worthless. Unlovable.
This is not vanity.
Or maybe can look like vanity on the surface, but below, in our bones and muscles and nervous system and DNA, we know.
This is life or death.
We know that for girls, women, and those expected to perform “femininity,” being attractive and acceptable is power.
Conversely, being unattractive and unacceptable is a sin and a crime.
Listen to that language …
a sin, a crime,
that carries penalties
and requires policing.
In 2022, when 22-year Mahsa Amini was abducted, imprisoned, beaten, and ultimately killed by the Taliban “morality police” in Iran, it was allegedly for not wearing her hijab in accordance with ‘government standards.’ She ultimately died for the crime of letting her headscarf slip out of place, revealing some of her hair.
In the Western world where I live, the penalties for “having a hair out of place” aren’t as obvious.
We aren’t usually abducted by morality police, but we have internalized that fear in the form of self-policing.
We aren’t usually put in an actual prison, but we self-imprison, restricting our food, our joy, our movement, our expression, our freedom.
We aren’t usually beaten and killed, but we beat up on ourselves, and can literally waste our lifetime doubting and hating on ourselves.
But then again, the danger isn’t just inside us. It’s quite dangerous for us out in the world, as well.
If you aren’t dressed or coiffed “correctly,” you might not get the job, won’t be taken as seriously, could be bullied, might be shunned by your peers, might not get the medical care you need, could be charged an inflated price, might be assumed to be unintelligent, will likely be catcalled, might receive death threats, could be raped and blamed for it. And, and, and …
A client of mine who chooses not to shave her legs — loving how it looks and feels — told me that in some smaller towns, she often feels too anxious to walk freely around wearing anything but clothes that fully cover her legs.
She is worried she will be labeled a lesbian and targeted (read: not performing “femininity” correctly) and could be beaten or killed in a hate crime.
Our bones and nervous systems
and DNA know that the price
for having a hair out of place
just might be steep indeed.
So, then, deciding to make the mindset shift to throw away the filters of hideousness and to instead see yourself through the filters of gorgeousness, is a power move indeed.
It doesn’t erase the families/cultures/religions/world we live in. But it allows us to exorcize the flaw-finding and self-policing that we’ve internalized.
The rockstar icon Tina Turner recently passed away, so I’ve had the honor of learning more about her life lately.
A friend told me that when Tina Turner noticed a self-depreciating thought, she would immediately follow it up with 15 great things about herself.
Not a 1:1 ratio but a 15:1 ratio!
So, let’s sing a note from Tina Turner’s song, shall we?
1. When you notice that one “I’m hideous” thought, toss that filter of self-deprecation into the trash.
2. Adorn yourself instead with the filter of self-appreciation.
3. Belt out 15 ways that you are gorgeous, good, valuable, delightful, delicious, and just right, right now, as you are.
(You can say them internally or softly, you don’t have to really belt them out. But I’d love to hear it either way).
4. Don’t stop till you reach 15.
It’s rebellious and radical to reach for 15.
It’s rebellious and radical to put down the baton and handcuffs and tasers and morality guides that family/culture/world has handed us and we’ve internalized.
It’s rebellious and radical
to bask in your beauty.
It’s rebellious and radical to demand that others see you and treat you as though you are just right, right now, as you are …
you simply f*cking are.
I hope you’ll join me.
15:1, baby, 15:1.
In it, you’ll identify one or some of your doubts — such as your body, your feelings, your smarts — and I’ll guide you through a process to flip each doubt on its head and reveal what is unique, irreplaceable, and powerful about you.
PPS: Image by Justin Essah of Unsplash