Truth is Beauty, But What is Truth?

Via Erica Leibrandt
on Oct 3, 2013
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Courtesy of Flickr/The Pie Shops

I have no idea what I look like.

How can that be? I’m not blind. At least, I don’t think I am.

I mean, I’ve got the basics down: tall, blonde, 43 years old. I recognize myself most of the time if I see myself in a picture or a mirror. But outside of a fuzzy general idea of my appearance, I’m clueless.

Do I look old or young? Thin or fat? Nice or mean?

Does how I look change from minute to minute, rather than just from year to year? Can I be beautiful one moment and ugly the next?

It certainly feels that way.

My husband sometimes talks about women who are “two faced.” By this he doesn’t mean duplicitous; he is referring to a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry dates a girl who looks gorgeous in some circumstances and hideous in others. Jerry calls her a “two face.”  I think that’s me. (My husband would disagree, but what does he know?)

Old insecurities? Check.

I was what people call an “ugly duckling.” (Again, my mother would disagree, but what does she know? I’m a mother too. My kids could look like Chuckie and I’d think they were darling).

There wasn’t anything pretty about me until freshman year of high school, and even then I was a mess. Taller than everyone else, heavier than all the girls; I just felt like a big doofus. I still do.

It mystifies me when people tell me I look “intimidating.” What’s intimidating? My giant, awkward, aging body?

I’ve got the smoke and mirrors down. If I go out, even I think I look good. But God I can’t wait to get home and just be plain again. It’s exhausting trying to be beautiful.

And yet, like most women, I wish I was. Naturally, I’m saying. Like wake-up-in-the-morning-glimmering beautiful. Not meticulously-put-on-make-up-and-the-exact-right-dress beautiful.

I sometimes wonder, if I saw myself on the street, would I even recognize me? I wish I could.. see myself on the street, that is. Just have a totally impartial glance at myself, just for a sec.

I also wonder if I saw myself at 23-years old on the street, what would I think? Would I look anything like I thought I looked? Better? Worse? I’ve got no idea.

I hate caring about this. It’s so shallow and so stupid and such an energy drain. And in reality, nobody cares what I  look like except me..and my husband, and he’s totally down with it.

Or do they?

If I put on 100 pounds how different would my world be? Would I have the same friends? Would I do the same stuff? Would my husband leave me?

You see, this is about fear. Fear of not being loved. This so-called superficial concern thinly veils a rich vein of fear, which runs deeps indeed. How do I mine this vein, bring the fear to the surface and alchemically turn it into something positive?

I know I’m not alone. There must be some woman out there who feels great about the way she looks and confident that she will be loved as is– but I don’t know her. I know a lot of women who appear to be those things. It’s kind of a sliding scale, these insecurities. Some women are paralyzed by them, others are simply annoyed by them and swat them away like so many skeeters.

I guess I’m in the middle somewhere.

If, as the saying goes, “Truth is beauty, and beauty, truth,” then all I have to do is keep trying to get to the bottom of this. If I unravel this mystery, dig up this fear and inspect it courageously, I will find truth. And then maybe, I will also find beauty.

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Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photo: courtesy of Flickr/The Pie Shops}



About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.


5 Responses to “Truth is Beauty, But What is Truth?”

  1. Emma says:

    I totally relate to this: both the inability to conceptualize an image of how I look and the exhaustion that comes from being "more" than plain all day.

  2. Hope says:

    Erica, I really enjoyed this piece and appreciate you sharing. As a “modern” woman in the same-ish generation (born 1976), I feel you. My current understanding of “beauty” is the brightness of one’s “light” (sum total of life’s experiences) and their current capacity for honesty with oneself and others. In other words, how your wisdom is being shared so that you and those you touch along your path to said wisdom are living the life that feels right to the mind-heart.

    And when I read your pieces of shared wisdom, they feel beautiful and graceful to me. They move me, they inspire me, and I so appreciate the gift of life and communication. Thank you. I see your light and your truth.

  3. Erica says:

    Hope, thank you for that eloquent reply. Many blessings to you. Erica

  4. Erica says:

    I really am so happy Im not the only one.

  5. Valter_V says:

    Erica, I'm afraid most people feel that way (me included).
    It's not really about beauty, it's about being loved and appreciated (and beauty it's just part of the mix). I think it's somehow innate and evolutionary, because being loved and appreciated greatly increases your chance of survival (and more so in the past).

    Regarding the saying "Truth is beauty, and beauty, truth”, is just BS. Poetic BS, sure, but BS nonetheless.
    Truth is, more often than not, ugly and unnerving.

    Truth is, beauty helps being loved. That's really unfair, but life is not fair at all.
    But, at least, we can choose to love ourselves, and that's a kind of love nobody can take away.