Beautiful like me

There have only been brief moments in my life when regardless of what others might have seen, regardless of weight issues, big feet, a long nose, less than perfect skin, and frizzy hair, I’ve felt beautiful – only brief moments when I could look in the mirror and not feel disgusted with myself. And those brief moments had nothing to do with dieting or teeth whitening or the right hair cream.

Five years ago, I looked back at pictures of myself from 10 years ago and thought, “Wow, I was pretty then. Why didn’t I realize I was pretty? I wish I still looked like that now.”

Now, I look back at pictures of myself from 5 years ago and think, “Wow, I was pretty then. Why didn’t I realize I was pretty? I wish I still looked like that now.”

For health reasons, I know I need to lose weight. I know I need to get in shape so I can walk up the stairs without my knees hurting or to the bus station without intense back pain.

But for psychological reasons, I need to learn how to accept myself as I am. I need to learn how to be happy with the face I see in the mirror. I need to figure out how to undue a lifetime of self-deprecation that started with me wishing I was beautiful like them.

You know the them I’m talking about. The ones in the magazines and on TV and in movies. The airbrushed Barbie dolls who aren’t even real themselves.

I read a blog today about a 13-year-old girl who is speaking out against the airbrushed beauties and pushing for portrayals of real girls in the media. I’m impressed by her determination and I agree with her completely. And I signed her petition to get Seventeen Magazine to publish one spread a month with real, unaltered photos of girls.

However, I think it’s going to take so much more than that. Sad as it may be, we will never get the mass media to portray women and girls as they are. If we can make any kind of impact there, that’s wonderful, but I’m not holding out for it.

The lessons need to start at home. We need to teach our children (girls and boys) to be themselves and to love themselves. We need to encourage their strength of character. And just as importantly, we need to teach by example. If you show your children that you will only be beautiful once you’ve lost 10 more pounds or after you put on make-up, you’re teaching your children that they need to do the same things.

In order to teach those lessons, we need to learn to love ourselves as we are. Faking it isn’t enough. Our kids are too smart for that. I’m starting with me. I know it will be difficult. I know I’ll have pitfalls. It’s easier to be insecure than it is to find beauty in what I’ve deemed to be my faults.

But I will continue to work on building my own self-esteem, continue to lengthen those brief moments until the day I finally accept that I’m beautiful like me.

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21 responses to this post.

  1. I signed that petition too! I know it’s easier said than done, but I feel that when I focus on being healthy, instead of thin, it seems to be easier. Instead of beating yourself up over that soda because of the calories, think, “There is nothing of nutritional value in that soda.” Now don’t get me wrong, I indulge in soda (especially since I got pregnant; it tastes so good!) but I won’t have it every day. And I’ve tried to get soda from Whole Foods instead of just drinking a diet Coke. Sure, mine has calories, but it also has natural sugars and no chemicals.

    “But I will continue to work on building my own self-esteem, continue to lengthen those brief moments until the day I finally accept that I’m beautiful like me.” Very well said!

    *HUGS*

    Reply

    • Thanks, Jen :)

      I’ve known for a long time that my self-esteem issues are not dependent on my appearance. I need to work on the internal issues . . . and I have a feeling that doing that will help with the external ones!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Karen on May 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    personally I like your nose

    Reply

  3. Posted by Karen on May 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    It is hard to get older, I used to feel beautiful, I don’t anymore, and it doesn’t help that my husband’s family continuously tells me that I must HAVE BEEN pretty when I was young, and further then asks for old photos for me to prove it. I don’t. People are cruel and rude, and those who are, are unfortunate individuals who apparently think they look pretty good whether they do or not. I signed the petition, I can’t stand airbrushing, plastic surgery barbie replicas, etc. I try to remember how very much I loved Georgia O’Keefe in her 90′s and how beautiful I thought and still think she was.

    Reply

    • Your husband’s family is just rude. And I think you’re beautiful :-)

      It’s interesting . . . I can look at someone who is my size or bigger and think, “Wow, she’s gorgeous.” But for me, my size always means I’m ugly. But, I know that I need to deal with a whole lot of psychological stuff before I can get past that!

      Reply

      • Posted by Karen on May 10, 2012 at 11:19 pm

        Thank you Dayle. You know when I see someone I rarely notice their size. And as an artist I always preferred heavier models, I found thin models to be uninteresting, I didn’t like the angles. I don’t like myself heavy but just because of the way it makes me feel, more pain in the feet and knees. It’s interesting to see how so many women are really feeling. It seems we all don’t feel so pretty. I am thinking that’s a reflection of our society…it’s hard to feel pretty I guess when one has to “fight” for rights, for civility, etc. I am always on the search for peace and tranquil surroundings which I find harder and harder to find. This was a very thought provoking post. I think of my little nephew Ezekiel who always looks at me as if I am the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen, and I feel pretty around him but when I see myself in photos I am shocked at how old I look, I don’t see what he does. But today my friends little girls told me I smell good:) That made me feel pretty too.

        Reply

        • Kids are awesome!

          I used to teach a little boy who would randomly come up to me and say, “Miss Dayle, you look pretty today.”

          They see us for who we are . . . without all the influences of media and culture. I’ll take a 3 year old’s opinion of me over pop culture’s any day!

  4. Great post Dayle! I can definitely relate to looking at pictures and thinking “hey I was pretty then,” but not always feeling that way in the moment. And I think that you are right, parents need to start teaching their kids to love themselves just the way they are, that’s the only way we will see a real change.

    Reply

  5. I have not had any women’s magazines in my house really, because I was hoping to help my daughter out in this department. But you are right – it’s not just the magazines — it is absolutely everywhere in our society. There is no avoiding it. And you are so right…the lessons need to be taught daily in so many different ways….and we need to start with ourselves first. And you, my dear, are very beautiful! :)

    Reply

    • ::Smile:: Thank you, Anne!

      The other day, I was in Walmart with my daughter. I was shopping for allergy meds and we walked past the cosmetics aisle. She says, “Oooh make-up! Make-up makes you pretty!” . . . We had a rather lengthy discussion about it. I don’t know where it came from and she can’t tell me where it came from . . . I rarely wear make-up and like you, I don’t keep the magazines in the house and she doesn’t really see commercials either because we usually watch Netflix or something DVR’d. So I don’t know if she picked it up at her father’s house or at school or what, but it was definitely upsetting! And definitely helped remind me that even if I keep her away from certain things, she’s still going to be exposed in other places!

      Reply

      • Posted by Karen on May 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm

        maybe it’s a result of having lived in the 70′s but then we were natural is better, and I have never been able to bring myself to wear makeup…there is just something about it…I deny my nieces and nephews very little, but when my 8 year old niece asked for “paint for the face”, I said no. Where did the makeup come from, and why? I remember one of the women I idolized most as a child was a mathematician with wild red hair careless pinned here and there into a loose bun, I adored her she taught my “great books” after school and she was so different from the other mothers

        Reply

        • I like to wear make-up *once in a while*, but for the regular day-to-day stuff, it’s just not a priority. I think make-up, like clothes or jewelry or tattoos or hair dye, can be used as an expression of you are, but when it comes completely vital to your life, it’s just sad. I’m always surprised to see the moms who are dressed and painted like they were going out for the night sitting next to me at my daughter’s baseball games. I remember one mom complaining about getting her shoes and pocketbook dirty when we were on a field trip to a dairy farm.

          The mathematician sounds like someone I’d like to meet :-)

        • Posted by Karen on May 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm

          You would have loved her, sadly she has passed away.

  6. I’m another one suffering from thinking “Wow! I used to be pretty” but never feeling pretty at the time. I want to start liking me for who I am now and working to keep myself healthy. Great post!

    Reply

    • Thanks, Sarah! It seems a lot of us have work to do in the liking ourselves as we are department! But if we keep working at it, I’m sure we’ll get there!! :)

      Reply

  7. Fab post Dayle…you sing it sista!!! I loved that you said we need to “encourage their strength of character”. The things in the media and everything else in the world will always make us believe we aren’t good enough, or give false hope that it we just do such and such we will be perfect and as a result have a perfect life. I really hate that crap…drives me crazy! Although we have never met in person, I think you are a beauty!

    Reply

    • Thanks, Lisa :)

      I think it’s important that we feel beautiful . . . but I also think it’s important to believe in the merits of our non-physical attributes. Since my daughter was an infant, people have commented on her eyes . . . and that’s great, she has gorgeous eyes and there’s nothing wrong with telling her that . . . BUT, I try to focus on the other things that are wonderful about her too – her sense of humor, her intelligence, her kindness, etc. — The importance of knowing our beauty both inside and out!

      Reply

  8. I feel an echo when I say that I, too, have definitely looked back and said, “Why didn’t I realize how pretty I WAS?” when what you say is so true! Instead, we should ALL teach ourselves AND our kids to know how beautiful they are NOW, both inside and out! It’s really hard to see women on television, magazines, movies, even in public that look the way the “media” has taught us is beautiful and not fall in with the crowd, but I wholeheartedly agree with you, that is something we all have to work on…
    I think you are a beautiful lady, inside and out and so is your little girl! :)

    Reply

    • ::Smile:: Thank you!

      I think it’s almost looked at as a character flaw for someone, especially a woman and especially a woman who doesn’t fit the society “ideal”, to recognize her own beauty. It doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me sad how many women could relate to this post. It speaks volumes about our society. It’s definitely going to take some work, but we’re all worth it! :)

      Reply

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