You Are More Beautiful Than You Think
The industry of beauty is built on an often impossible ideal. To facilitate our adaption to meet quality control and maintain this ideal image often requires expensive harsh chemical products and invasive or destructive practices. We know this, and we choose to pursue this ideal to meet the ever so deeply powerful underlying need for acceptance, or to avoid her shadow sister, rejection.
I could write about the cost of living up to the ideal of beauty; the comparisons we make with ourselves in the presence of this ideal: being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too pale, too dark, too grey, too mousey, or just too old. The ugly truth of living up to an ideal, especially when that ideal is youth, is that it cannot be achieved easily by most, and this is exactly what the beauty industry thrives on; the impossible! Meanwhile, behind the facade of beauty, an ugly showcase is often concealed: poor self-esteem, eating disorders, nerve damage and scars from invasive beauty treatments, osteoporosis, organ failure, and sometimes death from anorexia, or anxiety and suffering derived from the harsh and dark thoughts of negative self-judgement with which we bully ourselves when we believe we do not live up to the ideal of the moment. There is nothing beautiful about the true picture of our manufactured beauty. But we know this, and yet still we pursue it, so writing about it has little impact. And so I will write about something that is has had an impact on me: true beauty.
True beauty shines from a loving being; one who speaks with care and kindness to others, while holding the same silent truth within the secrets of their own mind; the unseen beauty of acceptance of self, others, and life. When I first encountered acceptance, I thought I had to get myself and my life to an acceptable place in order to accept; I was seriously missing the point! Acceptance is now, with who we are now, with what is now; it is surrendering to the fight and saying ‘it’s okay, I accept this, and I accept myself’. From a state of acceptance, a new peace is born, and it shines a light of serenity that we begin experience. With our acceptance, we give ourselves permission to be more of who we are, to express what is within and allow this to emerge from the confines of the shadows that imprisoned us in a state of ‘should’s’ and ‘ought’s, and within the confines of fear and judgement, to empower our liberation. This love builds our self-esteem, from which a person is able to strive for their most cherished values, and precious dreams, because now they matter more than the illusions in life, and now the pathway has been made clear to see what matters, what to focus on and where growth can be nurtured to bloom. Now, with an enriched and more beautiful vista, courage and confidence to bring it to life, and with the seeds of acceptance being nurtured, peace, freedom and happiness naturally grow.
To the person who chooses to pursue true beauty there are many challenges. The first and perhaps the most challenging of all, is to break free of the old ideal, and to banish the judgements and fears of conditioning. This will take courage and strength. Thankfully, these qualities grow in the presence of love; when we choose to accept what is and go in the direction of happiness, inner strength has a wonderful way of just appearing, because self-love and self-believe builds it, naturally and powerfully from within.
Ask yourself, ‘What matters to me now, truly, deeply, within?’ Then choose it. The ugly face of an ideal may haunt you, but if you say ‘no’ to the illusion; the impossibility of endless youth, abnormal and unhealthy body shapes and sizes, or, a different you, if you stop comparing yourself to others, and say ‘yes’ to you, your true beauty will shine until the shadows have no power, because you choose to love yourself more. This is true beauty and it doesn’t cost you any money and it doesn’t cost your life. True beauty is free, it is a choice, and you are free to make it in any moment and as often as you wish and when you do, you feel the sensations of true beauty within; peace, happiness and acceptance.
Writing the content was the easy part of the creative process for this article, it just came from my heart, but to make it more appealing, I wanted to add an image. What image depicts true beauty in a format that many relate to? Asking myself this question highlighted how easy it is to depict an illusion of beauty; the images the magazines depict, perfectly photo shopped to live up to the impossible and the unreal; that the only way to create something that we should all pursue, something that will be desirable to many (to ensure vast product sales), is to create something unreal and unattainable. It makes marketing sense and supports profit margins. The question is, why do we pursue something so potentially destructive, something that tells us who we are is not okay, that we must change, that we are only beautiful if we get ourselves photoshopped! It’s come to the level of the ridiculous, and time to laugh at the illusion, let it dissolve, and choose real, true, beauty, because we love ourselves more.
So what then is beauty, if depicted in an image that we can truly relate to, and something that is real? When I experience beauty, it can be witnessing a random act of kindness, a moment when I recognise my own acceptance of myself or a situation, it can be a release; letting go of a fear that cast shadows in my mind, to make space, and light, and new radiance; it is positive thoughts and peace in the mind.
Perhaps the difficulty in depicting a universal image, is that beauty is not confined to a manufactured image that is so easy to source from millions of digital (photo shopped) on-line resources, beauty is not confined, but expansive and vast: beauty is nature; the radiance of a fiery sunset reflected on the surface of still waters, it is birth and death, it is a connection between two souls in love, it is happiness, joy, a bright and positive mind, and it is a moment, this moment, when we come into it, as we are, feeling what we feel, and accepting who we are and what is. It is a pure expression, innocence, love, and radiance. True beauty is seen in the wonders of life, it can everywhere and nowhere; it is perception, a choice, a way of seeing ourselves, and a way of being, it is a random act of kindness. The problem depicting beauty is that it is so incredibly vast that it cannot be confined to an image, and it is subjective, which is the beauty of true beauty; it cannot be manipulated into a common doctored image, and neither can we. You are far more beautiful than you think.
Copyright Antonia Behan. Published in Marbella Rocks June 2015
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