I have always been told I’m beautiful. Even as a child, strangers would stop and comment on my beauty. As a 50-something woman, I still get comments — though I must admit, I don’t turn heads when I walk into a room like I used to, especially if I’m with my daughters. Talk about feeling invisible! 🙂
But feeling invisible is not what this post is about. Beauty is. And the hiss of the critter’s voice flicking it’s tape of “You’re so vain!” through my mind as soon as I type the words, “I have always been told I’m beautiful.”
When I was in my teens we lived in Germany. My brother and I both went to the Canadian Armed Forces High School in the small town where we lived. Every morning we’d don our uniforms, wolf down a breakfast and race out the door. Except, the racing out wasn’t that fast for him. A handsome young man, my brother loved his reflection in the mirror. He stood in the mirror so long, we used to tease him about wearing it out.
And that was okay. My mother never chastised him for lingering in front of the glass. She never told him to ‘quit being so vain’ for admiring himself and she never said, “it’s not true,” when a stranger commented on his good looks.
She was different with me.
My eldest sister was a beauty queen. Tall. Slender. Beautiful. An oversized photograph of her with crown and sash graced my parents living room since she’d won Teen Queen status years before I reached my teens.
There was never any question that I would enter a beauty pageant. I was short, maybe even a bit pudgy, and constantly reminded that looking at myself in the mirror was vain.
It is a tape that runs through my mind still today. I heard it yesterday when a visibly homeless man who was walking in the opposite direction as I walked towards my car, stopped dead in his tracks in front of me and said, “Holy F**k. You’re beautiful.”
I laughed and smiled and said “Thank you” and we continued on our separate ways.
But the tape fired anyway.
What’s the question behind the question of the tape, Louise? My mind of reason and love asked. There’s something deeper here than a vanity tape at work.
And it was true. There was. Something deeper.
I love it when my mind whacks me on the side of the head and says, “C’mon girl. Dig deeper!”
I dug. And what I realized is, it’s not the surface response of ‘don’t be vain’, it’s actually all about trust. Or lack of it actually.
When someone pays me a compliment, I don’t trust that they’re telling the truth.
Not a particularly healthy way to go through each day — in fact, it’s downright self-defeating. Not only am I accusing them of being a liar, I’m undermining my own self-worth!
Think about it. A stranger stops me on the street to say I’m beautiful and really, my first response is to want to tell him he’s wrong — hello? This is a stranger, and in this case, a man with absolutely nothing else to give but a compliment. Why not be gracious and accept it with a smile?
I know there’s still stuff around beauty that makes me uncomfortable. I look at my daughters and am in awe of their beauty and how comfortable they are in their own skin. I’ve never been comfortable in mine. I’m working on it, but it is, as my blog friend Leigh commented yesterday, a work in progress.
But rather than work on my issues around vanity and beauty if I focus on building trust, being trusting and trustworthy, it won’t matter what the critter hisses — I’ll simple smile and say, Thank you for caring enough to share, and continue on my way.
As Don Miquel Riuz writes in the Four Agreements “Don’t Take Anything Personally” — it’s not about me anyway. Whether someone thinks I’m beautiful or ugly, what they think is not about me. And it’s none of my business what they think of me anyway!
I’m all about me.
And trusting people, creating a world where we can trust each other, where I move through my day extending and receiving trust is something I want more of in my life. To have it, I must give it, be it.
And it begins right here, right now.
I began this post with a statement that makes me uncomfortable, I have always been told I’m beautiful.
The discomfort of typing that, the challenge of putting it out there in the open stretches me. The voice that states, you can’t type that, it’s vain, rushes in, and in its onslaught I breathe into the truth — no matter what I look like, the truth about me is found in what I want to create more of in my life. It resides in the acts of kindness I share. the laughter, the joy, the love I create.
No matter how I look, turning away from the mirror of judgement and self-deprecation to see myself through the lens of compassion, love and kindness creates more of what I want in the world — peace, joy, harmony and Love.