In a conversation with my mom concerning recent circumstances, she introduced an old spin on a new problem: the issue of my physical beauty. I inwardly groaned. My physical appearance is, I think, one of my mom’s favorite choices for the root of most of my problems, which is ironic considering that most people who have met my mom say I look just like her (at which point, she immediately puts herself down and shakes her head). She then basically said that when men look at me, they more than likely think about getting in my pants and are much less likely to be interested in getting to know me.
My mother’s issues aside, I sat with the idea for a bit. My self-image has been askew for a long time, and I have stopped trying to figure it out. I grew up being told I was beautiful and my internal processing of this fact has caused me manifold problems from trying to align my perception of what someone’s life should be if they’re beautiful with my own to experiencing deplorable feelings of mediocrity in my adolescence to the point that I began starving myself and making myself throw up in an attempt to retain some semblance of what I had been told I was up to that point to completely exploiting myself in college. As a result, when I consider myself and my physical appearance, I no longer even face confusion. I just don’t know. I’ve stopped trying. I see the face I’ve seen my whole life, and I pick at zits and pluck eyebrows and frown at fat above my hip bones, and that’s it. I see scores of women every day who I think are far more beautiful than I who I imagine face or have faced the same experiences I have, whether or not they’ve come to the same conclusions.
And though I groan at my mother’s perspective, I recognize inwardly that she has a point. I know she does. We were out to dinner one night a few years ago at a local bar/restaurant, and as we walked out, we passed a group of young adult men. When we got outside, she started laughing. I asked what she was laughing at. She said that every head of every man we had passed had turned to look at me. I hadn’t noticed. Nor had I heard what they had said. It was something Historical Ex used to find great amusement in (being so insecure himself): the number of men who would stare at me or scowl at him as we walked in public together. Just as I had told him when he asked me about how I felt, so I told my mom: when they look at me, they don’t really see me. The looks in their eyes do not reflect who I am, so why should I pay attention?
Having had these experiences has allowed me to appreciate and strive for true beauty – beauty that is ephemeral and ethereal and that is found far deeper than skin’s surface. Beauty that cannot be measured by clothing or bra size; lip shade; hair length, texture, or style; or the existence or non-existence of cellulite. When I regard myself, it is this beauty that I appraise and measure. When I look to others, it is this beauty that I seek out. This is the beauty of the Goddess that lives in each of us. This is the beauty that matters.
To all women reading this post who have ever wished you looked prettier than you think you are: You are beautiful. Right now. Right when you roll out of bed with make up smudged around your eyes because you didn’t wash it off the night before. Right when you are sweating, with no make up on, racing your kids around the house. Right when you are out with friends and don’t have men staring at you. Right when you haven’t showered in a few days, are PMSing, and moaning about the zits on your face that refuse to disappear. Right when your eyes are puffy and red from crying, are wiping away slobber and snot hanging from your nose and feel like you are about to die from sorrow. Right when you’re experiencing a hot flash, when your hormones are insane, when you’ve realized your body isn’t what it was 10 yrs ago. Find and embrace your beauty in these moments, and you will see you are far more beautiful than you ever imagined. You are the Goddess.