What is your definition of beautiful?
Merriam-Webster states: The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the sense or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.
A while back I read a thoughtful post on body image by Sal, from Already Pretty, which brought back to mind a topic of conversation I’d had this summer with some friends. When it comes to our personal assessment of beautiful it can be fleeting and subjective. How do we define our beauty? Is it spirit? Is it physical? Is it emotional? Can it be contained? It is likely to be all of those things and more.
I challenge each and every one of you to assess yourself; how are you defining your beauty? We are bombarded with how-to’s, tips, tricks, fixes and examples of ways to improve. One can’t improve upon something that does not exist; how can we define our beauty when there are so many messages reinforcing the ways with which we are falling short and require outside interference?
How are you using your eyes and mind to view yourself? Are they kind?
As I age I find myself navigating different phases of my body, mind and heart. Fascination has slowly replaced negative association. Nurturing has replaced self-deprecation. It has taken years to get here; it is not foolproof. We all have our days, after all. If we were to throw away every metric we use to judge physical beauty, would we still find the tonal changes of skin that come with age undesirable or would it just be different?
We strive to be unique and yet we want to belong. This is another example of an “either/or” scenario that clearly functions better as an “and”. After all, we’re just human. I checked in with some of my favorite humans not too long ago and asked them to share with me their favorite body parts. I asked that they not waste space in this post with humility, excuses or deflection; just name it.
I was impressed with the amount of attributes each person shared. We all inherently like certain, if not many, things about our bodies yet we’ve been conditioned to focus on the negatives. There’s a misconception out there that liking and appreciating ourselves is the great evil that is vanity. Here’s a sampling of what I heard, starting with my own.
“My butt. There, I said it. The shelf. It’s round! I like my skin, especially as it changes. I like the color and I have inverted freckles now, there’s a pattern of three on my right arm that always makes me think of dominos. I like my eyes and my smile. When I smile I feel more attractive. I get freckles and age spots on my face that one of my friends said looked like a heart shape. I like that! I love my legs, they’re really strong. I like my stomach area, too. And my hair. It’s naturally unruly but behaves really well with a little love” – Fabienne
“My moles. A lucky-placed one left and above my lip, a-la Marilyn, and three that form a triangle above my heart. My face. I use it all the time! It’s so expressive & zany ^,.^ The skin on my back and arms. I’ve been told it’s soft, and therefore I get pet a lot by my friends and loved ones ” - Telene
“When it comes to describing just one particular body part that I like the most about me, I struggle to name one. Instead a number of body lines converging together come to my mind: especially the rear view of my arms, shoulders, hips and buns that melt together into my waistline. And as I’m writing this paragraph, I go through a list of my body parts again: hips, shoulders, arms, small of my back, my belly, etc. and I’m realizing that, as a result of your survey, I’m getting closer to that ONE thing. So, I have to say that my waistline is my favorite body part because it is the place where my curvy hip and bun lines narrow down to a “deep valley” and then widen up again towards my shoulders and arms creating flowing curves of my female body. Now, put all that in motion with a sound of music and imagine it dancing!” – Barbie
“The obvious are my breasts. (Yes, I like them too) and my face, skin, eyes and hair. I like my body shape as well although I tend to be critical about extra weight. I like my hands and my fingers, feet and toes too. Wow. I didn’t realize I liked so much!” – Donna
“I like my hair, wrists, ankles and eyes. My hair (as you know) is wild and easy to wear. My wrists and ankles are actually fairly tiny and dainty. I need that since I’m fairly muscular (and round) and need the extra feminine touch. My eyes I’ve received compliments on over the years. Being almond shaped with brown into green (when exposed to the sun), they give me a little more of my Middle Eastern pizzazz-lol! Windows to my crazy soul!” – Ingrid
Because you can dress it and undress and dress it back up again but you can’t detach yourself from your body. Why would we ever want to? The human body is an amazing organic machine. What are your favorite body parts? Make a mental or physical list and keep it handy. Refer to it every time you doubt yourself, any time you are comparing yourself to another. If you only make one resolution this year, change the way you see yourself before trying to change yourself.
There’s only one you: Fascinating, unique, one-of-a-kind beautiful you. I would love it if you shared with me and other readers what your favorite body parts are below. Say it loud and proud!
A special thanks to my girlfriends who made time in their busy schedules to participate. An additional thanks to Sal from Already Pretty for encouraging positive body image regularly. If you haven’t already checked out her site, I encourage you to do so.
Deets: Hot pink dress/H&M, scarf/thrifted, grey patterned tights/Hue, faux cowboy boots/ModCloth, silver belt/unknown, silver cuff and ring/Lois Hill, black gingko earrings/Braindrops.