Sep 6, 2013

What is beauty? A message for my nieces and all other folks constrained by society's definition of beauty

Dear nieces, sweet and lovely women and girls that you are,

I want to share a secret with you, you won't read about it in Vogue or Cosmo, friends won't whisper it behind their hands held up to their faces, but it is a precious secret, and one you need to know.

I can look in the mirror and see all the imperfections that magazines, tv, and society want me to see.  Too round of a cheek, darkness under my eyes, heavy eye lids, and a nose I took a long time to realize was pretty and beautiful, as I'd seen it on my father's face, and while handsome, he wasn't exactly pretty or beautious.  Looking in my cousin's faces, I see my dad's nose, looking at his lovely sisters, I see my dad's nose.  It's a DeLay nose, big, wide, unashamed and does exactly what a nose is supposed to do. Oh, and those heavy eyelids and the darkness under my eyelids, that is the result of sleepless nights from just not being able to turn the tired feeling, they are battle scars from the fight with the fall out from meningitis a while ago, a fight I'm still able to fight.  The round cheek that's me showing that I am blessed with food and not lacking in needs that way.  All together, these mars to perfection are marks of strength, endurance, and blessings, and that my nieces, that is the secret.

It's not in the what of how you look, but the how of what you look.  Let me give an example, seeing my skin change color and texture because of the medications I take for the migraines is a what.  If I were focused on the what of how I look, those changes would make me feel like a pariah, untouchable, ugly, diseased, sickly.  Now, change to the how of what I look like.  I'm reminded of how strong I am by seeing the parts of my skin that have changed and reminded of how blessed I am to have walked out of the hospital in 2011 by the changes in my skin.  Just by changing how you tell the story of the how you are affected by something, you change the reality of how you deal with things.

This works with all sorts of things.  I experience great pain, yet, I rarely cry about it, and not just because crying makes the pain worse.  I've prayed to God for acceptance of the pain, and miraculously, he is giving me the gift of being able to live alongside the pain.  I was getting a massage last night, and the masseuse was working on a knot in my neck.  All of a sudden, I started having a dull with sharp edges pain in the middle of my back on the opposite side of my body.  I didn't expect that, and it was weird, but also kinda neat to just be there with that pain and notice it, but not get emotional about it.  Just be with it.  I was floating in the pain and the reverberating chimes of the soothing music, and not fighting the pain, just noticing it.  It was weird but good.  I've never experienced that before.  If I can do that, with God's help, then you can choose to kick the messages of beauty being skin deep or hair dependent or the curve of your lips dependent or what have you, you're beautiful just the way you are because you are human and you are. You exist and creation isn't ugly.

Fight those surface only definitions of yourself.  Don't limit yourself with the language you use.  I believe that the time is now to stand up and be counted among the proud and strong and beautiful, just for being you and getting through the day without killing anyone else.  If not now, when?  If not today, when?  The time is now.

Tell yourself, "I am.  I am beautiful.  I am strong.  I am good. I am good enough." Tell yourself whatever you need to tell yourself.  You know what your inner critic is lying to you about, just dump him/her out with the garbage and tell yourself, verbally, out loud, everyday, every hour if need be, the exact opposite of what that mean inner critic was saying.  And, yes, we all have an inner critic, some of us can tell that jerk to take a flying leap off a short pier and actually lose the jerk for a while.  But, until you do more work than I've done, the critic always slinks back into your psyche and haunts you.

My inner critic was telling me junk yesterday before I went to the massage studio.  It told me I'd feel better by eating an additional cup of rice after supper.  Now, I started to listen, and actually ate half of it before I got angry and told myself that I was poisoning myself.  I was acting in opposition to my own best interests, desires, and health by eating another whole cup making it two whole cups, when a serving size is 1/3 of one cup.  That would have been 6 servings, not 1, I actually had about 4-5 servings, but I threw away the last of it because it was just too much and was going to poison me as surely as cyanide would.

I'm sharing that to illustrate that no matter how enlightened you are, or think you are, that inner critic is insidious and slinks in without notice.  A little bite will taste good and satisfy my craving for more, oh it's all sticking together so more ended up on the plate than I wanted, I'll just eat it anyways because it is there.  That's not treating myself as beautiful and worthy of being treated to optimal feed for optimal health.  I don't care about getting skinny, I just care about getting healthy.  And, health is one of the strongest aphrodisiacs any wheres.

So, dear sweet nieces, and all the other folks out there who feel constrained by society's definition of beauty, remember that you get to make your own definition.  And, you get to rewrite the story if it doesn't work right the first time. Remember the secret and use it today, now.