A reader recently sent me an email I knew I had to address on THS
Okay, here’s my question:
What do you do when you don’t feel beautiful?
I’m asking you in particular because of your passion for Operation Beautiful! And I’ve just been struggling lately. I’m living in a culture VERY obsessed with sex and appearance. And while I’m confident in myself, my personality, who I AM, I’m not at all confident in how I LOOK.
Any words of wisdom?
I wish I had a magic pill to offer others [and myself!] when these feelings of “unbeautiful” sneak up on us. I am confident that we all feel this way from time to time. I’m no self-esteem building expert, but I can offer some suggestions based on my own experiences battling the negative voices that appear every so often.
1. Find something that DOES make you feel beautiful. Something physical that you can add to your self when you think your beauty is hiding. [Your beauty is always THERE, sometimes you just need to uncover your opinion of it.] It may be a scarf, a certain mascara or perfume. It could be a particular cardigan or your favorite pair of heels. These “special” items in my life are the accessories that make me feel MORE THAN beautiful. I don’t depend on their superpowers every day, but on the days that you REALLY need a “beauty pick me up” – then I put it on to do the rescuing of my self-view. My tall “magic” boots and my favorite mascara are my beauty heroes.
2. Speaking of what you wear…start today by beginning to transition out the pieces of clothing that you often find yourself HATING, and replace them with items are that are more simply “you.”
Consider your favorite “go-to” pieces in your closet. When you are preparing for an important dinner last minute, what do you grab out of your wardrobe? What style are these items? What cut of tops, dresses, skirts, and pants do you feel the most comfortable in, the most gorgeous in, and the most yourself in? This is the style I would define as “you.”
Now think about the pieces that you almost never wear. The ones you try on time and time again, and throw on the floor in heated frustrated 9 times out of 10. It’s time to get rid of these pieces [swap with a friend, bring them to a consignment shop, donate them, or craft it up!] and replace them with some new “you” items! When shopping, don’t be afraid to buy two of one specific top in different colors if you find yourself feeling radiant in them.
3. Look around you. Every woman around you has thought at one time or another “I am the opposite of beautiful.” More than half of the women you will see probably thought this today. Keep looking around you- notice how none of them are ugly? Notice how you see beauty in EACH of them. None of the people on your path today are thinking “so ugly” or “not attractive” when they look at you. NONE.
4. Copy this down: Psalm 139. The end. When I lived in my first apartment in Texas, my friend Mary came over one weekend. We took large strips of paper and wrote down the entire Psalm, one word per strip of paper. We hung it up on the back of my apartment door which led me to constantly see it, and read it, and remembered it, every single day. Fearfully and wonderfully made.
5. Confession: There are days i avoid the mirror. It’s true. If I have put on more than 2 outfits, and still feel ridiculous and “not enough” in what I’m wearing, I just have a reasoning talk with myself that goes a little something like this – “Dear self. You are being ridiculous. I will not let you think about this anymore. You know you are beautiful. You know you are worthy. You are just being fooled by this silly little piece of reflective glass. Therefore, you are no long allowed to look in the mirror. Today is a mirror free day. And a no camera day, too.”
6. Then I do something ridiculously kind for someone else, reminding me of the beauty INSIDE that makes me worth so much more than my beauty outside.
7. No shocker here: Write an Operation Beautiful note to send some beauty out into the world. If that doesn’t make you feel better, write another one. And then another. Keep going until you feel better. The whole concept of Operation Beautiful started when Caitlin Boyle felt less than what she is worth.
8. Keep a photo (or two or three) of yourself that you absolutely LOVE on hand. When you are feeling crappy, take out these reinforcements and remind yourself that THIS IS YOU in the photo. Bonus points if the photo is of such a great memory that you stop thinking about not feeling beautiful and start remember that great day, instead.
9. Read some of these other posts on beauty that may interest you:
What’s in a Picture on Operation Beautiful and the original, Overweight Admission – the comments on these posts, especially, which remind us that we all feel this way from time to time. We are not alone.
Stop Comparing Yourself from Medicinal Marzipan
Just Bloom from Kelsey
Dear Society from Mackenzie
How Do I Look from Anywhere There’s an Airport
Don’t Say Something to Yourself You Wouldn’t Say to a Friend by Therese
Lessons in Beauty from Mama Pea
What is Beauty by Lauren
Let’s rally our tips and tricks together: What do YOU do when you feel less than beautiful?