“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” – Audrey Hepburn
Seeing how this is the fashion issue, let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with appreciating fine clothes, luxurious skincare, exquisite handbags, and outer beauty. Where I’d like to draw attention is to the compulsion to fixate on our external beauty alone. How many of us have lost touch and the ability to see the beauty that is present no matter what we look like? We’ve forgotten that outer beauty stems from the divine greatness that lives inside our souls.
True beauty is comprised of a person’s personality, love of themselves, and selflessness. While these aren’t usually the things that come to mind when someone is labeled beautiful, they are arguably the things we love most about a person—not how they look.
They shape our appreciation for someone because their personality and integrity take time to develop through personal exploration and life experiences.
Something else that makes them more magnetic and attractive?
Self-acceptance. Accepting yourself is done by forging your own path without caring what other people think. The most charismatic people are those who live in alignment with their true selves and don’t subscribe to the ideals of conventional beauty.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that we’re at our most beautiful when we act in conjunction with our inner selves. He explains that in this state, we aren’t seeking acceptance from others. Instead, our hearts and souls are what validates us.
How do we get to a state of self-acceptance?
Change how you relate to your achievements or failures.
When you achieve something, is it because others have helped you? Or is it because you worked really hard? It’s important to take the reins of your own life. To do that, you have to recognize your own value and abilities.
Only listen to your inner voice.
Everyone has an opinion: your family, your professors, your bosses, your co-workers, your friends, partners, and even social media.
In a noisy world, the most important voice is typically the first one to be silenced: your own. Every once and a while it’s healthy to block out all that ambient noise so you can listen to yourself and make your self-care a priority.
Follow your passion.
People who are gutsy enough to create their unique path, without caring what others think, will always seem more attractive. That’s because the most exquisite people are the ones who buck the norms and social conditioning to instead be their authentic selves and live the life they want to live, not the life their parents expect them to live.
Instead of trying to overcome or urge to focus on our physical appearance, we can embrace radical self-love for all the beautiful parts that make us who we are.
But how? We start by becoming aware of our thoughts. Time for a new inner dialogue if you’re:
1. Focusing on flaws. When we highlight our perceived “flaws” it obstructs our ability to recognize the beautiful attributes that are inherent in us all.
Instead, remember what your mother told you - if everyone were the same, it would be a boring world. Your “flaws” are the best parts of you.
2. Body Checking. Are you able to walk by a mirror without checking for imperfections? Or do you critique one particular area of your body with laser focus?
This might be a compulsive behavior known as body checking. It’s when you frequently comparing how you look now to past photos, do daily weigh-ins, and hold onto clothes that no longer fit.
If you catch yourself doing any of these, stop and reflect on what’s motivating the habit.
Likely, the attention to your body image isn’t necessarily driven by wanting to look a certain way, rather it’s used as a coping mechanism for low self-esteem and feelings of anxiety.
3. Constantly comparing. Why is it so hard for us to feel unapologetically proud of our appearance? We compare ourselves to models and deem our “brand” of beauty unacceptable.
Instead, we need to embrace our uniqueness – and find a tribe that does too. If you are surrounding yourself with one-uppers or frenemies that love to compare their life to yours, kindly and respectively ditch them. You are way too fabulous to have someone in your circle trying to get you to question that fact.
4. Setting yourself up for failure. Too many of us seek virtually unattainable levels of perfection, reinforcing the idea that our beauty will never be ‘enough’. We lie to ourselves and try to convince our hearts that we’ll be happy when (insert perfect weight or financial situation). The thing is, once you get your (fill in the blank) you’ll just tell yourself you need something else to make you feel good about yourself. Instead remind yourself that perfection does exist, and it’s you—right now—as you are.
Sit with yourself and your emotions for a few minutes. Connecting with yourself gives you the ability to become your true self, through self-acceptance and self-love which will foster natural beauty from the inside out.
Elizabeth Pearson is Executive Career coach to Powerhouse women who feel “stuck”. She lives in Laguna Niguel with her husband and two young daughters. Learn more at elizabethpearson.com
Self-care tips for everyday
Tip 1 Meditate. Meditation can wipe away the day's stress, bring forward feelings of inner peace. Carve out time to take silent moments for yourself each day. Just 10-20 minutes of meditation has also been linked to increasing self-awareness and reducing negative emotions.
Tip 2 Move your body. Strive for three or more 45-60-minute sessions per week of aerobic exercise or resistance training, which has been shown to help relieve stress and negative thinking patterns.
Tip 3 Ground. Grounding/Earthing is the discovery of benefits from walking barefoot outside in the grass, sand, or standing on natural stone. 10-20 minutes of going barefoot allows for the transfer of the earth's electrons from the ground into the body, which has been beneficial to alleviating feelings of:
- chronic fatigue
- chronic pain
- anxiety and depression
- sleep disorders
- cardiovascular disease