“You are the sole source of every quality that defines who you are.” –Deepak Chopra
Much is made today of the concept of “body shaming”. This is a particularly heinous evolution of the playground bullying I grew up with (fatty, pizza face, gimp, etc), but the anonymity of social media has given it dark, vicious wings. People (mostly, I suspect, those who fail badly at living up to their own standards) judge and lash out venomously at every perception or statement of beauty that doesn’t conform to their own very narrow definitions.
This in turn creates a backlash toward perceptions of beauty from those who, in their own minds, don’t fit a given mould and therefore perceive themselves as being judged less attractive. Skinny models are railed against as creating a negative body image in people who aren’t skinny; voluptuous models are vilified for creating unrealistic expectations; fit models (or female athletes) are “mannish”; “normal” body types are said to lower our expectations and devalue beauty; models in makeup are fake and models without makeup are liars or worse…
I would like to put forth an alternative take:
Deepak Chopra said that “My personal reality begins inside me.” I interpret this to mean essentially that it doesn’t matter one damn bit how someone else perceives you.
The only opinion of you that matters is yours, and until you understand that, perceiving yourself as beautiful will be impossible. You ARE beautiful, and so am I. My scars and lines are my history written for all to read. When someone calls me ugly (certainly not rare), I don’t feel victimized, I pity them for their narrow understanding.
Does our social interaction need to evolve beyond hiding behind avatars and viciously assaulting total strangers? Of course it does. I cringe and rail against such behavior whenever (hourly) I encounter it. But we also need to evolve beyond its ability to affect us. You are NOT what others think of you. Even those Hollywood stars held up as “Most Beautiful” have been called ugly and “too ethnic” and told to lose weight and get a tan and dye their hair and fix their teeth. The most successful of them have refused to change themselves for arbitrary standards and have instead proven themselves far more beautiful for holding onto their resolute self-images.
I received in my email just this morning, as I was contemplating writing this very article, a reminder of the value of diversity. From Mike Dooley’s “TUT – A Note From The Universe”: “Having preferences doesn’t mean you’re judgmental; whether they’re likes or dislikes. They just ensure that as the winds of divinity are blown through your heart, the melody is unlike any other.”
We all have “preferences”. Some men like blondes. Some women prefer hairy chested men. This doesn’t mean that less hirsute fellas are disgusting, simply that there is infinite diversity in this world, and that we are all beautiful in our own wonderfully unique ways.
Perfection, like Shakespeare’s definition of beauty, is very much “in the eye of the beholder”. It is not society’s job to make you feel beautiful. Until you find beauty in what you behold in the mirror, and see the irrelevance in what others say, you will remain a victim in your own eyes, and will be denying yourself the opportunity to experience the joy of feeling beautiful. Everyone, EVERYONE deserves that joy. Especially you.