Source: (no, not a self image!)
There’s nothing like joining a group of bloggers, for blog topic prompts. Especially when you find the #Imustconfess prompt is ‘Do you think you’re beautiful?” It’s posed as a question to ask ourselves. So that’s what I’ll do now. What a great topic!!!! (can you spot the sarcasm?)
Still, I’m doing it – because sometimes, the most uncomfortable questions are the ones that shouldn’t be avoided.
So. Here’s my internal interview, between me and myself (and no, I don’t do spend my day in a conversation between me and myself, but I thought I’d try now):
‘Helen, do you think you’re beautiful?’
‘Do you mean the inner beauty that comes from trying to be a good person, looking out for others, being loving?’
‘No, not really. No, I don’t. Granted, it is what’s inside that counts probably more than outer beauty, really – but this prompt was designed to focus on outer appearances. So, what do you think?’
‘Ahhh’ (spotting another loop-hole). ‘Do you mean that, as a result of being kind, and so on, I have a soft, caring appearance? The sort that means random strangers feel they can come up and talk with you, that they feel you will listen? That you have a certain energy that, sometimes, attracts people to be with you? Because yes – sometimes I do. And that’s beautiful, isn’t it?’
‘Well, maybe, but that’s not what I was asking. Really, isn’t that a variation of your first answer? I’m asking about what you think about the way you look, as seen by yourself and others. So – what do you think?’
‘Right. I’ll try again:
‘Do I think I am beautiful? Well – not often. I tend to focus on aspects of myself that I think need to change, rather than look for aspects that maybe I do like.
‘Sometimes these aspects are transient. For instance, I am sitting down and writing this before making myself go for a run, and I am uncomfortably aware that I need a shower and cleaner hair. But I can fix this.
‘Sometimes these are more engrained. . For instance, I have put on weight over the past couple of years and it shows, especially in my face and upper body. I am not tall and slender, I don’t have beautiful long blonde hair, I wear glasses. Some of these I can change, some I can’t. And, compared to say, a list of people I could rattle off, I wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. I’d blend in. So, that can’t really be beauty – can it?
But – we are more than a series of elements (our face, our legs, our breasts, our skin, our hair, etc, etc) that are picked apart and evaluated for their quality, aren’t we? It’s the sum of the parts, isn’t it? And no one is flawless (even super models have aspects of their appearance they’d like to change, don’t they?) And is beauty relative, anyway? Who sets these standards? Maybe that’s what we should talk about????’
‘Nice try, moving into a philosophical area, and avoiding answering the question.
‘But I’ll bring you back to what you said – that you often focus on what you don’t like, often to the detriment of what you do like? Are there any aspects, or times, when you think you are, or have been, beautiful?’
‘I’m squirming a bit here. The question seems a bit egotistical, doesn’t it?’
‘No. The question is fine. It does seem, though, like you are avoiding it. And I’m trying to see if you are seeing yourself truly, or if you are being overly judgmental (which, actually, undermines your self esteem). Which you well know, because you are working on building up your self esteem and self compassion. Remember???’
Oh, right. Yes, I am. Ok. Well. Let me think …. I guess there are some aspects that are not too bad, generally. My skin is mostly ok. I have nice hands. My eyebrows are a good shape and I don’t need to do much to keep them that way. And, um, I have looked good in the past – should I bring out some of those photos (like the wedding photos, say, or when I was looking a lot fitter?)
‘No, please don’t. Yes, I’ve seen those highly culled selection of photos that you think are acceptable to show others before, and I think you still use some as profile photos?? We don’t need to bring them out again, surely. But good to remember that at times you have been happy with how you look. Keep that thought, because really, have you changed THAT dramatically?’
‘But as for now. Hands, eyebrows and skin? That’s all you’ve got? Riiight. I guess it’s a start. Maybe your hair, once it’s washed? Good, add that to the list. But – what do you think about your kids?
‘Oh, well they are gorgeous, of course. As you know. The cutest kids in the world. Lucky they’ve inherited a lot of their father’s looks, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, I do know. But is it lucky they look like they do? They look solely like our husband, do they? No resemblance whatsoever to you? In no way whatsoever? Are you sure about that?’
‘Oh, all right! Yes, they do also look like me, in some ways. In quite a lot of ways, really. And they look cute. So maybe, in some ways, I have aspects of me that are beautiful – maybe I’m beautiful, in my own, quiet, not drawing attention sort of way. Maybe. You’ve got me there. Maybe I am beautiful. Are you satisfied now?’
‘I guess. Not overwhelming in your enthusiasm, are you? but I’ll take what I can get.
‘But maybe, because you seem to like exploring things further, ask yourself why this question – and actually, more to the point, answering it – makes you feel uncomfortable? And how does the way you think about yourself impact on how you present yourself to others, or relax with your husband, or provide an example to your kids? And yes, how you feel about your outer appearance is part of what you think about yourself, whatever you might think (you don’t need to obsess about it, but you do need to acknowledge it, you know). So will you think about that?’
‘Fine, Ms Counsellor in my head. I will. I’ll think about this more, if I can stop now (because it’s making me uncomfortable). By the way, that was more than one question! You always keep going, don’t you?’
‘Yes. Yes, I do. As you know!’
How does the question – ‘Do you think you are beautiful?’ make you feel? Why do you think that is? – I’d love to know!