This is something that is hard for most women to tell themselves, let alone believe. We’ll admit to little aspects of beauty – things like I have nice eyes or I like my smile or I have a nice ass (that’s you, right? *wink*). Or, for others of us, we’ll admit to little aspects of beauty that lie under the surface, like I’m a good friend, or I go out of my way to be kind to strangers or I try to pay attention to other people’s needs, and help. But we don’t often look in the mirror, or take total stock of who we are as people – inside and out - and admit to ourselves,
I am beautiful. Just the way I am. Period.
I know I don’t.
For me, it’s too easy to see the unfinished business that is Myndi. The broken parts of me that are struggling to grow into something more easily recognizable as beautiful. Oh my goodness – my temper? It’s an ugly thing. My self-centeredness? It can oftentimes be masked, but it’s always there, lurking. And as far as body image goes, the list of things that could be considered un-lovely is lengthy. Extra weight. Wide feet. Stretch marks. That’s just a few.
But here’s the thing. None of us are any one thing. None of us are made up solely of those few seemingly undesirable things that pop out at us in the mirror, or shout at us in our psyche. We are the sum of all our parts, good and bad. Pretty and otherwise.
Yes, I have a temper. But I’m always ready to laugh. Yes, I can be self-centered. But if someone needs an ear, I’m always ready to listen. And I may carry extra weight, have feet that can’t be crammed into the prettiest shoes, and stretch marks from bearing children, but I also have strong legs that have never failed me, happy eyes that can’t decide if they’re green or blue, and health that I’ve never had to question or fight for.
Among all I lack, there is so much beauty. Not just in me, but in each and every one of us.
We are beautiful. That is absolutely true, no matter how our brains filter what we see in the mirror.
You are beautiful. Just as you are. Just the way God made you. With your extra weight. With the weight you need to gain. With your thinning hair. With your gorgeous locks. With your extra chromosome. With your missing limbs. With your beautiful tattoos. With the tattoos you wish you’d never gotten. With a total mastectomy. With your breast implants. No matter where you are in life, how you were born, what you’re like now, where you’re headed – you are beautiful. Acne or clear skin, hairy legs or freshly waxed, crooked teeth or straight. You are beautiful.
Gorgeous. Stunning. Lovely. Exquisite.
Just the way you are. Right now, in this moment.
I think it’s time we claim it. Grab ahold of the idea, clutch it tightly to our chests, and declare, “This is mine! My own! I am beautiful!” We need to write the truth of that statement on our hearts, and believe it. Because when we believe in our own beauty – real beauty, beauty that springs from the deep places within ourselves – something in us changes. It becomes easier to see beauty in others. It becomes easier to see beauty in people we wouldn’t have taken much notice of before. Suddenly the cashier at the grocery store is more than a woman in a red vest telling us what our total is. She’s a work of art with hopes and dreams and wounds and hurts…a complete, broken, beautiful package, who, chances are, has no clue about the Truth, or Worth, of her own beauty. Suddenly the woman walking her dog in front of your house isn’t just a middle-aged stranger trying to get some fresh air before making dinner. She’s a work of art with hopes and dreams and wounds and hurts…a complete, broken, beautiful package, who, chances are, has no clue about the Truth, or Worth, of her own beauty.
I believe beauty can be contagious. I believe that when we own up to ours, our shoulders will straighten, we’ll look people more readily in the eye, and other people will begin to see their own beauty reflected in us…and maybe begin to believe in their own beauty, as well.
Isn’t that something you’d want to be a part of?
Here’s your chance.
Every month here at Blogging Barefoot, I’m going to do a segment called I Am Beautiful… Before each segment, I’ll put up a post, asking for photographs of you - gorgeous, beautiful you. Not just you, but the beautiful people that you know (with their permission, of course). Then, later that month, I’ll post those photographs for everybody to see – statements of beauty that aren’t designed by popular media or out-of-whack cultural values.
In honor of August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman BlogFest 2012 (August has a ridiculously fabulous blog – head over there on Friday, the 10th for a chance to win some AWESOME prizes, and to explore lots of other really excellent blogs!), the theme for this month is Just As I Am. I’m asking you to send me photographs of you just as you are. Your daily self. Do you normally wear makeup and heels? Great – photograph it. Do you normally go about your daily life makeup-less and barefoot? (eek! That’s me!) Perfect – photograph it. I want to see photographs of you, as you are at your most normal. Don’t dress up; don’t dress down. Just be yourself.
I had my boys take a couple pics of SweetZ and I to give you an idea. This is us, at our everyday best, in our everyday habitat. Feel free to get creative with your shots – or not! Just don’t be afraid of the camera, and don’t be afraid to shine!
Send your pics to: myndishafer [at] rocketmail [dot] com, with Just As I Am in the subject line. Cut-off date for submissions is February 24! Spread the word…the more the merrier!
Can’t wait to see your lovely selves…
(p.s. I wish I could say this idea was all my own, but it wasn’t – not even close. The I am Beautiful project on Flickr, gave me the idea. You should totally check it out!)