Let me begin by saying I’m by no means the most beautiful woman on Earth, although my husband may, or had better, disagree.
I’m not 5’8” with legs to the moon. I don’t have the complexion of a pre pubescent girl. My abs aren’t cut of stone. My legs may wobble when I run. And the fact that I feel the need to start off by telling you these things is precisely the reason I’m writing this piece.
Why do I have to preface what I’m about to say by first belittling myself? Why is coming out and simply saying, “I’m beautiful” so difficult? I’m beautiful. I like the way my body looks. I love my big blue eyes and bow shaped lips. I love my long blonde hair (natural or not!). I love dressing myself up, doing my nails, applying makeup so that I look fresh off the catwalk. I love feeling pretty. I am pretty. Why is this so hard to say? Why do I feel so uncomfortable, like I’m crawling in my own skin? Like I want to run away and hide, like I want to immediately follow this up with a “but…” “But my this is this” and “my that is that.”
I’ll tell you why. Because although we’re taught through society, through media, through subliminal messaging that women should be beautiful and that we should strive for perfection when it comes to our appearance, we should not own our beauty. We should look beautiful without feeling beautiful. We should not outwardly admit or show that we care too much. After all, perfection should come naturally and ideally from behind a locked bathroom door where we can tend to our beastly forms discreetly. We should look effortlessly beautiful. Care a little, of course, but not too much or else we run the risk of being considered vain, shallow and self-absorbed.
Nobody calls you self-absorbed if you take the time to meditate, eat healthy and work on your inner self. Oh no, that’s okay. That makes you a “good” person. Well, attending to your outward appearance is okay too. In fact, I find it can be just as important and, quite frankly, fun.
In my opinion one of the best parts of being a woman is looking like a woman. There’s something about a woman that is innately beautiful. The colors they wear, the floral scent, the shapely figure and flowing hair. Women are just naturally the prettier sex. We can’t help it. Of course balance is always key. If you’re staring at yourself in the mirror for six hours a day then that’s probably not healthy. I limit myself to four. My point is that we shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty for wanting to look gorgeous. It’s our birthright. It’s perfectly fine if we take the time to deep condition our hair, polish our nails and style our outfits down to the perfect pair of pumps. Doing these things doesn’t make us “less than”; it’s simply one part of our impressively varied selves.
We are taught to take pride in intelligence, in kindness, in strength. We should be proud of our God-given gifts and talents. We should make the most of them. Well the same can, and should, be said of our looks. Beauty is a gift; why not make the most of it? Now just as intelligence shouldn’t solely define you as a person, neither should your looks. We are all complex individuals made up of varying and distinguishing factors that make us unique and, dare I say, special. Beauty is just one of those things. But if we happen to possess it, and I firmly believe we all do in our own way, then why not appreciate it, embrace it, have fun with it?
By looking good I feel good. I find on my worst days if I make the extra effort to put myself together physically I feel more confident taking on other areas of my life. It gives me that extra boost. We can’t deny that we live in a physical world and that our forms and shapes have an effect on others. The way we look and dress transforms the way we feel about ourselves, which transforms the way we act, which in turn transforms the way people treat us. It’s okay to acknowledge this. Beauty has gotten a bad rap for being superficial and overpowering. I agree as a society we focus way too much on appearances, and this needs to change, but it would be a shame if we lose the potential good that can come of beauty. It would be unfortunate if we allowed our obsession with beauty to taint what should be a gift.
I want to live in a world where I can openly feel beautiful without this attached stigma. By embracing and making the most of our own beauty, I believe it becomes easier to see the beauty if others. It also seems to take away some of this hidden power beauty seems to hold. It’s okay to want to look beautiful, to feel beautiful, to be beautiful. We shouldn’t be ashamed of this. I’m beautiful and that’s okay.
Author: Steffi Erbilgin
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: Author’s own