Come on, Beautiful People! / by Michelle Cowan

Jumping off of last week’s entry, I want to comment on another great, and very prevalent, tragedy.

When people do not believe they are beautiful, I feel sad. Sure, there are people who we consider more attractive than others, but the scale of attractiveness we use is only relative at best. Ugliness in some cultures is beauty in others.

To be honest, I have never met someone I thought was hideously ugly. Even when introduced to people who do not strike me as immediately attractive, I can think of a few simple things they could do that would increase their appeal. Yes, this is judging. I judge. I try not to, but it’s often instantaneous. Nonetheless, I’m being honest. The basic truth is that I cannot think of anyone who I would say lacks the potential for physical appeal. Of course, even the things I might propose to enhance their appearance might be completely unnecessary for another individual who thinks that the “unattractive” person is just fine without any changes at all. Beauty is relative.

Moving on, people can feel ugly for numerous reasons, but such feelings usually seem to be the result of a fixation on a particular imperfection, whether that “fault” currently exists or not. For example, adults who had severe acne as teenagers often still feel insecure about their skin. It’s only natural, especially if they were ridiculed or shunned in any way for it. I’ve known people who thought they had big noses or disgusting thighs, and they couldn’t see past that one element. That single hang-up blocked the image of the gorgeous person they truly were, regardless of whether that one flaw was real or imagined.

Most of us know how painful—and even boring—it is to hear a perfectly handsome individual tear him or herself down. We see the truth. We know the person is beautiful, but when they don’t see it, it’s tragic.

However, do we consider the way we speak to ourselves? Do I? Really?

Do I give myself the same benefit of the doubt as I give to others? Do I truly recognize that whatever weight I am, whatever acne may have erupted overnight, whatever the state of my hair, I can still look attractive? Maybe not everyone would think I was gorgeous, but no matter how my outward body may be behaving, I can maintain cleanliness, wear flattering clothes, and smile. Simply walking around confident that I am strong and beautiful, pulling out the joy within, can make a world of difference. Ultimately, the inner radiance is what sticks with people anyway.

Do I really believe this? I hope to get there. I hope to be even more fully accepting of myself, not just as I am now, but as I could be at any other time. I can get wrapped up in thinking that I must do everything possible not to let go of the beauty I have today, thinking, “I look fabulous today, but what about two weeks from now? What can I do to keep this good thing going?”

It’s a ridiculous cycle in which, although I embrace myself for who I am today, I weigh myself down with the burden of “keeping it up,” as if outward appearance were the most important thing. Many things go into how a person appears, and my sad, tired expression after trying to maintain too-strenuous workouts or too-restrictive eating patterns decrease my beauty far more than a few pounds would.

Anyway, I’d like to refer you to the following blog entry that caught my eye:

She’s a fellow Houstonian and one of my favorite bloggers. Her post echoes many of my sentiments on this subject in a more pointed way. She refers to an article by another writer, Kate Harding, that I also encourage you to read:

Kate Harding’s site is also worth a look. Three writers dish on fat acceptance and all the nuances therein:
Shapely Prose:

In any case, I hope you all love yourselves a bit more today than yesterday and that you look for the light in others, beyond appearance, knowing that life is so much more than we see. Our appearance can change drastically from day to day and year to year. What really counts are our personal journeys. The outer ultimately has little meaning. Most of us would agree with that statement, but do we believe it… down to our beautiful bones?