When I was 27, I opened a lingerie boutique that specialized in bra and undergarment fittings. I had about 8 years of experience under my belt prior to that, so it was clearly something I was passionate about and enjoyed.
Throughout my career as a bra fitter, I fit women of all ages, sizes, and walks of life.
My youngest client was barely 8 years old, and my oldest was 102. I helped women who had gone through breast cancer, women who were pregnant, women who were sick, women who were homeless. I helped women who had never felt confident or good about themselves in their entire lives.
Needless to say, I learned a TON about body image in those fitting rooms.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Wayne Dyer,
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
These words ring true for a variety of things in life, and body image is no exception.
The phrase, “everyone is beautiful”, although utilized in most body image campaigns around the world, doesn’t quite convey the positive “love yourself” message I believe is intended.
Beauty, by definition, is “the quality of being physically attractive”. By saying EVERYONE possesses this quality, it sort of loses value and meaning.
I recently came across this hilariously candid article called “Not Everyone Is Beautiful“, and completely agreed with the writer’s thoughts on this topic. Nathan Biberdorf wrote, “Everyone is not beautiful. Some of us have tumors the size of a second head growing out of our ears. Some of us have skin like the Michelin man. Some of us lose fingers, legs, or eyes in horrific factory accidents. We have warts and blemishes and hair loss and dead teeth and lazy eyes and cleft palates and third nipples and unibrows.”
Urban Dictionary‘s description of this phrase is right in line with Biberdorf’s statement: “A very naive, cliche and opinionated phrase, that is overused in modern society. This phrase is only an opinion because everyone has a different idea of beauty and not everyone is going to be considered attractive by everyone”.
If it’s true that beauty is merely an opinion, then why is this word and/or phrase being used as encouragement to help people establish self love and acceptance in the first place?
In reality, beauty is one of the least significant parts of being a human.
It doesn’t bring us success in our careers or happiness in our relationships. It doesn’t bring us passion, dedication, love, or motivation… and it certainly doesn’t affect our spirituality or inspire us to change the world. So what does beauty REALLY matter??? What does it DO? Well, it makes people unhappy. It makes people feel inadequate.
Because really, not everyone is “beautiful”.
Biberdorf says, “Let go of ‘beautiful’. Not everyone can be beautiful, just like not everyone can climb Everest or play the saxophone or be a good kisser”.
Good point… we are all given gifts and talents, whether we’re born with them or develop them over time. The unfortunate thing is that many of us are so preoccupied with appearances, and so afraid of failure & rejection that we never discover what those unique abilities are. “What’s so toxic about all of this,” says Jesse Fox, Ph.D, “is that for many women, weight and body shape are tethered to who they fundamentally are as a person—tied to their success at work, in relationships, everything. Which means, if you feel bad about your body, you feel bad about who you are at the core.”
Loving yourself isn’t just a feeling or a state of mind. It’s not looking in the mirror and thinking “I look good today”.
It’s an action.
It requires effort.
It’s about creating a healthy and happy body & mind. It’s about doing things to better yourself and others. It’s about becoming a person you LIKE and accomplishing things you’re proud of. Once people begin to realize that each and every one of us has a purpose (and it’s NOT to “be beautiful”), we can begin to establish our own worth and value.
Stop letting your appearance hold you back. If you are unhappy with the body you were given, you have two options – plain and simple:
1. If you can’t improve the things you don’t like, you must accept them as-is. Period. You’re not going to be given a new body, so make the most of what you’ve got. Own it. Love it.
2. If you can improve the things you don’t like, DO IT! And QUIT making excuses to start.
Pick an option, and move on. Let go. This life is yours to live, and no one else is going to live it for you while you edit your selfies.