loving the way you look

In a survey done by Dove in 2015, only 4% of women said they would use the word beautiful to describe themselves. That means that 96% of women would NOT describe themselves using the word beautiful! I must have missed this survey when it first came out but imagine it made a splash. It makes me sad to read it 8 years later and I think, if anything, that it could be worse post-pandemic.

I have read that during and following the pandemic, plastic surgeons and dermatologists had an increase in patients concerned about their appearance after spending so much time on Zoom, viewing and analyzing their own faces.

Is it possible to love the way we look? What magical secret do that small sliver of the women in the survey have that they can call themselves beautiful?

I wish I knew. Growing up I NEVER felt pretty even though I look back and think how distorted that impression was. Even now, no matter how many times my husband tells me that he finds me beautiful it doesn’t really ever sink in. There are moments when I feel pretty happy with the way I look but I probably wouldn’t describe myself as beautiful either.

I think feeling beautiful is different to self-esteem, because it’s possible to feel great about accomplishments and relationships but still find it difficult to describe ourselves as pretty. Perhaps it’s the desire to stay humble, in the way we brush off compliments or the words we hear when we are young (“don’t be vain” or “pride before a fall”). Maybe it’s because we played with Barbies or because we grew up in the era of supermodels and we avidly read Top Model magazine (just me?!)

Truly, I know how complicated feelings around beauty are and all of the emotions, societal issues, and life experiences that frame our relationship with the mirror. It would be trite to say that a short list of tips would solve why so many women don’t feel beautiful.

Personally, I would like to feel beautiful more often, in a way that doesn’t depend on beauty products or on external factors. So I did do some reading on how we can build up confidence and happiness with our own unique beauty. (Resources at the end)

Ideas:

  • Identify a deeper sense of what beauty means to you. Beauty is so much more than the physical – you might think about the women in your own life who are beautiful in their own unique way.
  • Remind yourself that perfection does not exist and is unnatural. As psychologist Vivien Diller writes, “Looks matter to most people, but many confuse attractiveness with perfection. Although no one truly looks perfect all the time in every way, it is a belief supported by our media-driven culture.”
  • See yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you – your husband, child or mom. What do they love about you? They certainly don’t only love you because of the way you look.
  • Take care of yourself with kindness and love. Don’t punish your body with gruelling workouts or treat your skin harshly.
  • Remember the little girl that looked in the mirror and really liked what she saw. I watch my littlest daughter tell herself how cute she looks with her hair slides or her princess dress on and it’s endearing and heartbreaking (because I wonder when she won’t feel that way any longer…)
  • Exercise for the feeling – the boost in energy, endorphins and confidence that comes from moving your body.

I hope that there are some helpful ideas here that may resonate with you. Please share with me any things that help you too! 🩷

Resources:

Diller, Vivien. 3 Ways to Raise Your Beauty Self-Esteem. Psychology Today, February 13, 2012.

7 WAYS TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL IN A SOCIETY OBSESSED WITH LOOKS. https://www.botanicadayspa.com/7-ways-to-feel-beautiful-in-a-society-obsessed-with-looks/

What does it mean to feel beautiful. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-to-feel-beautiful-0131175/amp/

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