Following a link from Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project, I found the Reverb10 site, which encourages us to spend each day of December looking back at 2010 and thinking about what we want in our lives in 2011, through daily prompts. Since I'm nine days late, I'm not going to write about all of them, but I think I'll write now about one that sings to me.
December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.
We're all so beautifully different, aren't we? I used to write a zine called Beauty is a Battlefield that explored the beauty trap for women. Why we're so caught up in the myth of physical perfection, how it feels to be a woman who would not be considered Barbie-like. I had girls and women from as far away as the Phillipines buying the zine because I think all women, everywhere, resonate with the issue of not feeling beautiful in our own skin. When I look down on myself for not being physically beautiful enough, I can sometimes remember to review what I see as beautiful in others. Who are the most beautiful people I know? The answer is that the most beautiful people I know are the ones who aren't concerned with being beautiful. They're the ones with energy, radiance, kindness and love shining out of every pore. The ones whose eyes and faces light up with excitement, who laugh big and dance strong. The ones too worried about whether their outfits are right or their makeup is smearing aren't beautiful to me, whether or not they have perfect skin and perfect bodies.
My whole life, I thought that I was ugly. And even now, as an adult, it's a load I carry with me, something that's hard to put down, though the load is getting lighter the older I get. I know I'm not ugly, but I also know that I'm not some perfect woman, and in this culture, that's a message we get from every rooftop: you must be perfectly coifed, perfectly made up, smell like roses at all times, be bright and chipper always, and have no physical flaws whatsoever!
The things that make me beautiful: my desire for honesty and truth, even when the truth is hard; my awe and wonder at everything around me; my dry humor, my curiosity, my calmness in the face of problems, my openness and flexibility, my willingness to be with people even in their sadness or distress, my deep well of forgiveness and kindness, my understanding of the complexities and nuances of life that sometimes get me labeled a 'downer' because I don't care to turn my face away from pain, my ability to act as a muse and bring peoples' words and dreams out of them in new form, all of these are ways I'm beautiful. One thing I'd put at the top of this list: my ability to see beauty everywhere, and in everyone.