Women are amazing beings, but many seem at odds with what they look like, lack confidence and are blinded to their strengths.
I can easily find myself in those categories at times, so I try not to judge — but be kind.
We live in a society where looking your age appears frowned upon.
Just try to count the number of hair dyes, cosmetics and skin-tightening products constantly advertised. Read the “fix yourself” headlines screaming from many magazine covers. See how many American actors fit into a “beautiful person” template, not resembling 95 percent of the population.
Alongside these superficial tactics are more serious maneuvers. The number of women getting Botox treatments (shots of botulism which temporarily paralyze muscles under the skin) has risen dramatically, with statistics showing its increased popularity with girls in their 20s, long before wrinkles have even shown up on their faces.
Plastic surgery is still on the rise, with a total of 14.6 million procedures performed in 2012. Minimally invasive practices such as chemical peels, soft tissue fillers and laser hair removal accounted for the majority with surgical operations such as breast augmentation, facelifts and liposuction making up the rest.
Not only do we eschew aging, but we are a society that believes if you don’t like the nose/breasts/shape you were born with, let a surgeon “fix” it.
I’ve always been pretty low maintenance on the vanity scale. I wear very little make up, sometimes don’t even bother to blow-dry my hair, and while I like wearing pretty clothes, I typically can be found in casual attire (read: gym clothes). I don’t fight aging and at 49, I can see its signs pretty clearly, but I appreciate how I look.
I have only a few gray hairs amidst a shiny mélange of natural colors and I am physically strong and healthy. When I look in the mirror, I see my wrinkles and imperfections, but I’m more than okay with it because reflecting back is me in all my one-of-a-kind glory.
I’m not saying women shouldn’t aspire to look good, which in turn, can lead to feeling good. But all too often, lovely intelligent women seem to believe they don’t measure up if they don’t follow a glamour protocol.
I see their beauty inside and out. My fear is they do not.
Women complain frequently about their shortfalls. It is their perspective although not necessarily reality. Sometimes those seem like the same thing, but they’re not.
Case in point, my husband has never noticed when I’m having a bad hair day. He only ever sees my beauty, and I’m lucky he tells me so every chance he gets. I’m pretty sure no one notices my uncooperative hair more than I do, and we can apply this concept universally to mean no one thinks your thighs are unsightly, your wrinkles should be eliminated, and your birthmark removed. They probably don’t think less of you if you eat a dessert, wear your hair in a ball cap to run errands or don’t exercise more.
Part of what makes women so beautiful is their amazing fortitude. They juggle multiple responsibilities and roles with grace, efficiency and expertise. They often possess a physical and mental strength clearly visible to the outside world but absent from their own perspective because they are laser focused on what they lack.
All of us have shortcomings, and it’s healthy to honestly assess what we can improve, but it’s also important to consider our strengths and own them. Believing in our selves leads to confidence — in how we look, act and perform — and is not based on whether we wear make up, are thinner than our coworkers or have a year-round tan.
If you find you are being critical of yourself or others, comparing yourself or competing against others, it’s a strong indicator you have lost your way.
If you are scheduling yet another cosmetic procedure, starving yourself or trading sleep for workouts, you have forgotten how beautiful and perfect you are in this moment.
If you are constantly complaining, it will only breed contempt for yourself and further complaints, creating a never-ending cycling of weakness and deficiency.
I’m here to tell you ladies: You are good enough. You are wise. You are insightful. You are brave. You are powerful. You are tough. You are a force. And because you are uniquely you, you are exquisite.