“What I have to say is far more important than how long my eyelashes are.”
~ Alanis Morissette
Here in Australia, women use tanning to fit the Western perception of beauty. They spend hours lying in the sun, in solarium’s or spraying on fake tan.
So when I lived in China in 2010-2011, I was surprised to see commercials for skin whitening cream. There, and in other parts of Asia, white skin is beautiful. Women use whitening cream to make their skin lighter to fit their culture’s perception of beauty. They walk around under umbrellas in summer to stop the sun from touching their skin.
That was when I started to realise that beauty really didn’t matter. Perceptions of beauty are different all over the world and change over time, so it’s much wiser to focus your time and attention on being a good person, rather than being good-looking.
Or, as Michelangelo once said;
“The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.”
Further more, in some parts of the world women are starving themselves to fit in, while in other parts women are putting on weight because bigger women are deemed more beautiful in their culture.
So many definitions of physical beauty, all of them illusions.
All over the world, billions of women are all trying to fit in. To be accepted. Waiting to be approved of.
Confused into believing that their looks come first on their priorities list. That what they look like defines them as a woman, as a person.
Your most important job is not to be attractive.
You were not put on this earth to be the skinniest, or the curviest, or the best dressed.
It’s not to have the best boobs or the roundest butt.
It’s not to have the sexiest selfies on Instagram.
What matters is not how you look, but how you look at yourself.
I know a lot of women will know this already.
But I suspect there are many women and girls who believe – either consciously or subconsciously – that their first and foremost responsibility is to look good.
It’s this belief that causes us to beat ourselves up, to starve ourselves and bully ourselves and others. It’s why we judge other women based purely on their appearance.
It’s why we spend all day saying things to ourselves like, “Why are you so fat and ugly?” or “Why can’t I look like her?”, or “I hate you!”
Would you say those things to your best friend, your sister, your daughter?
So why say it to yourself?
I used to say those things to myself. But now I see things differently.
My body wouldn’t be deemed beautiful by others, but I don’t care.
It’s my body.
It’s healthy. It works. I can walk, jump, dance, run.
I have arms to hug those that I love. I have legs to walk along the beach or dance when I feel joyful. And for that, I love it unconditionally.
I treat it with kindness, because this is the only body I have and I want it to last as long as it can so I can enjoy this life as long as possible.
I don’t want to look back on my life and realise that I spent more time hating myself than I did loving the people who made my life worth living.
So from this day forward, I promise to remember that my most important job on this earth – in this short, fleeting, miraculous life – is not to be beautiful.
It’s quite confronting for me to write that. I’m breaking out into a cold sweat just re-reading it.
Not because I think beauty is the most important thing in life, but because I’m such an advocate for self-love. I truly believe that everyone is beautiful in their own way and I write about that a lot.
I feel like I’m contradicting all my work here. For so long I’ve said that everyone is beautiful, but right now I feel like going even deeper than that and saying…
So what if I’m not beautiful?
So what if I’m not attractive?
Would the world end if I didn’t fit society’s standard of beauty?
Would it make me less of a woman? Less of a human?
Would not being beautiful mean I’m a failure at life?
I personally don’t care if I fit into any standard of beauty – in fact, I hope I don’t. I know for sure that most societal perceptions of beauty are completely warped and only perpetuate self-hatred, comparing and judgement. I don’t want any part of that.
Beautiful or not, I absolutely love who I am.
Beautiful or not, I have a kind heart, I’m smart, I’m creative, I’m bloody hilarious, and I’m happy.
Everything that I am blends together to form my own personal brand of beauty, one that isn’t defined by the size of my breasts or the number on the scale.
Release yourself from the brainwashing, the conditioning and the self-imposed shackles of what beauty “should” look like.
I guess what I’m saying is this; everyone is beautiful in their own way, yes. But being beautiful, being attractive, isn’t our most important job. It’s not our purpose in life.
My job is not to fit into the Western cultural standard of beauty – or any cultural standard of beauty, for that matter.
It’s not to look the youngest or be the thinnest at my high school reunion.
It’s not to be the prettiest girl at the party.
It’s not to be the best dressed.
It’s not to have others think I’m ‘hot’.
My most important job is to be myself, be happy and to add happiness to the lives of those I love.
And I can’t do that if I spend all my time going to war with my reflection.
This quote from Portia De Rossi sums it up perfectly;
“If your self-esteem really does depend on how you look, you’re always gonna be insecure. There’s no way you can get around it. Even if you get the perfect body, you’re gonna age. At some point, you have to take control, shift the focus, and decide that who you are, what you can contribute to the world, what you do and say, is so much more important than how you look.”
Shift the focus,
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