What makes you beautiful? This may seem like a simple question. Yet this is a question that we don’t often ask ourselves. Instead we often speak on traits in other people as beautiful. We can list many of the traits that make us perceive them as embodying beauty.
We often refer to celebrities and people on social media as beautiful. Who do you think is beautiful in your everyday life though? What attributes make them beautiful? Throughout the day, do you ever have moments where you think to yourself, “I feel beautiful”. What makes you feel or think this? Do you feel uppity or vain for thinking of yourself as beautiful?
A girlfriend asked me to sit in reflection and answer this question honestly. What makes me beautiful as a person? So here I want to expand on and explore this question. Force myself to look beyond the mirror, go inside and explain to myself what makes me feel beautiful and why I believe I am beautiful. In this article I will share how my definition of beauty has morphed and changed over my life and how this simple question is actually quite loaded with much to unpack.
Often we don’t think beyond our physical assets and what we see reflected in the mirror when considering beauty. We often perceive the world with only our eyes, when we have so many other senses. What we find is beautiful is in the eye of the beholder. Is it because the subject is aesthetically pleasing. This is beautiful because it is stylish and wrapped with a bow. They are beautiful because of the symmetry of their face, body, composition, make up, hair, skin color. She or he is beautiful because of the way they walk with confidence and carry themselves.
This is a question that within the last few years has been changing and questioned internally constantly for me. While approaching 40 and questioning a lot of my beliefs in life, my definition of beauty has changed from younger years. When younger I for sure judged beauty as an external trait. Making comparisons to peers about what is the proper standard of beauty uniform for school or the office. Conveying the relaxed athletic look with all the right brand names like Nike or Adidas made me feel good when I was younger. Sometimes the perfect tailored suit and high heels made me feel beautiful in the work place. Getting my hair done and blown out by my favorite long term hairstylist Rhonda always made me beautiful. Working out hard at the gym and seeing the muscles in my legs or triceps start to show made me feel beautiful.
As I transitioned from 20’s to 30’s I was still comparing myself to the media standard of beauty. Following trends in magazines or commercials on TV of celebrities like Brittney Spears, J.Lo and Jessica Alba. They had perfectly toned bodies, flawless skin and amazing outfits. Although I never wanted to be a celebrity, I liked to imitate their looks and style. Ad executives were counting on this. That women’s standard of beauty be marketable. Even though these women were supstars, their looks and fitness still seemed attainable through work outs and commitment to healthy eating accompanied with a few splurges on outfits here and there.
In my mid 30’s it became harder to keep up with the body images portrayed as healthy by ads. My body was changing continuously. Seemed every five years, I needed to do something different. Make tweaks to diet and self care to feel good. Try new diets to make my gut function properly. Old workout routines were cutting it to be at peak performance. I know now after a lot of research on my own, that much of this had to do with hormone shifts. They never stop!
During this time my body and age started showing as well. Wrinkles, stretch marks, cellulite, aches and pains. Self image, self talk, self love, self maintenance all came up when looking in mirror. I began to explore more empowering questions about myself as well. Questions of what is appropriate to wear as I reach a certain age. Is cleavage ok? Are short shorts still good? Does this make me feel sexy, empowered, beautiful? I found that if I was comfortable in my clothes and skin is when I felt beautiful. I still paid attention to media and fashion, however there was a shift in awareness.
During this time IG was taking over. The bodies I saw became unattainable without surgery. The surge in popularity of the Kardashian clan majorly influenced women to strive for looks that can only be attained through surgical modifications. Lip plumping injections, transferring fat into butt, waist trainers, breast augmentations, face lifts all became the norm for women to try to attain the silhouette and features made popular by Kim and her sisters.
Although their antics are entertaining and I do find them attractive, I began to separate looks and content. Beauty and Brains. Brains became more attractive and interesting to me. I wanted to sculpt my brain and beliefs rather than my butt. I began to follow women in media who had something to say. Michelle Obama, Marie Forleo, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Gabriel Union are just a few. These women are all beautiful and brilliant in their works in the world. How they touched people with their books, life experiences, sharing of knowledge, showing up unapologetically and authentically became a new standard in the definition of beauty for me.
Never before this time had the government factored into the thoughts of what makes me feel beautiful. That is until the recent elections. Women’s rights and value in society have been put on blast in the past several years. The value of qualified women in places of power has never been more tested. I value women with purpose who try to elevate all people through their endless service for this country. Honestly I thought the government was running along doing the best for all, but after these past few years I am left shaking my head in frustration and bewilderment often.
I realize now that women like Michelle Obama, who sparkles at the epitome of beauty to me, are not seen that way at all by many in places of power in our government. These women who do not shrink, do not hide, do not silence themselves because it’s not proper or ladylike. They know their strength. They know their knowledge and they know they have to speak up for other women.
Just this last week in Alabama, a bill was passed on abortions that is the first step in reversing Roe v. Wade, the fundamental right of a woman’s choice. At this time in my life I can’t even fathom how this is still being debated. Women who stand up and challenge those in power, that is beautiful to me. Those who start to have conversations and talk about politics, Rights, issues that affect women within their office, their homes, amongst their friends, that is beautiful to me. There’s never been a point in time that I have felt so strongly about speaking the truth, sharing my mind, using my voice, telling my story. This brutal truth and honesty is beautiful to me.
I do believe that physically I am beautiful. When I look in the mirror I see red flowing hair and freckles unlike anybody else’s on this planet. My eyes sparkle green hazel and gold. My body has shifted through every size from 4 to 14 and done this more than three times in my life. How my body transforms and supports me in all states is beautiful to me.
When I give my body proper love, workouts, nutrition, it allows me to excel at sports like softball, volleyball, skiing and golf. I’ve also been a dancer and love to move to the rhythms of ballet, tap and hip-hop. I know I can move beautifully, athletically and sensually. How my body moves makes me beautiful.
I also know my body can give love and comfort with my arms, lips, heart and my soul. Anyone who is blessed to be in my presence, will see me and feel me. However those who are deeper and more aware, will be touched by my mind and my soul. I am a loving individual and an empath. I believe every person who comes into my circle is meant to teach me a lesson or to be taught a lesson. Or possibly we are to inspire or be inspired by one another. I believe every encounter is special and sacred if allowed. For this reason, I try to hold space for an exchange that will both enlighten and enrich each others lives. Being aware of my soul as an empath makes me beautiful.
My scars, both physical and emotional, make me beautiful. The pain I have gone through and lessons learned in life, are knowledge that I am able to bless others with. Whether the information shared is how to navigate recovery from a knee surgery or walk away from a relationship when enough is enough. I believe knowledge makes me beautiful.
The surgeries my body has endured and recovered from make me strong. The scars to my heart and soul hold space to see others suffering from the same pain. That I have made it through to the other side of the pain is my gift to comfort them in that process and on their journey. This strength makes me beautiful.
I have an intimate connection and respect for animals and nature. The connection I feel to their energy is as important as any human relationship to me. Respect and love for nature grounds me and touches my soul. It reminds me of where I come from. How I honor mother nature and all she provides makes me beautiful.
Through my gift as a floral designer I am able to create artwork from flowers and nature. I often bless brides with my art on their wedding day. This not only brings joy and beauty to their day. I feel very honored to be a part in one of the most special days of their life. It is a very intimate connection. I give arrangements on milestones and celebrations in life as well such as a birthday, anniversary or mother’s day. When I present flowers to people as a gift from the universe delivered through me, they smile and feel special. My artwork and soul passion of creating flower arrangements, makes me beautiful.
I am intelligent. I am smart. I have common sense. I am intuitive. I am an architect. I am an engineer. I am a designer. I am landscaper. I am a florist. I am a caterer. I am a waitress. I am a server. I am an organizer. I am an interior designer. I am an old soul. I am an empath. I am a friend. I am daughter. I am a woman. I know what I know, from life lived. I do not take this for granted.
All my time spent in college and in the real world has given me different types of knowledge and lessons to share with others. The knowledge I possess could be an ah ha moment for another individual. It could bring them enlightenment, make their day better, bring a smile or launch into a conversation that will inspire or bless each other‘s lives from our brief encounter. Knowledge cannot be taken from me. My brain makes me beautiful.
I think this I a question we should ask ourselves on the regular as a reminder of all that we posses. We are so much more than looks. Beauty describes so many facets of me as an individual. Granted there are dark sides and moments to me as well. Can not have the light without knowing the dark. I choose to dwell in the light. Live with an attitude of appreciation when possible for all the power and beauty you posses. Own and be proud of all the things that make you beautiful.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer screen when the kids are occupied or sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.