We have all heard the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.” It hit me today how false this is. It’s one of those sayings that we grow up hearing over and over. The intent is good, but it not really truthful.
In today’s world we are bombarded daily with false images of skinny women with flawless skin. As a graphic artist I know all too well about the wonders of Photoshop. My fear is that many women, especially young girls do not realize this. With the flick of a pen you can lengthen someones neck or legs, change the color of eye and hair, and drop 20 pounds. Body parts of various individuals are blended to create the perfect woman for ad campaigns. You ask if I am serious? Yes, it this is the truth. Our society has perpetuated the beauty myth for far too long and it is wrecking havoc on our collective self-esteem (women, men, girls, and boys). Eating disorders are on the rise for both men and women and we are not helping anyone by buying into this myth.
I’m not going to lie…this effects me too. I don’t always like who is looking back at me in the mirror. I never feel thin enough, even when I barely have anything left to lose. It’s the voice of self hate echoing through my head…you are never going to be good enough…you are never going to be thin enough. The voice just echos through my head like a virus. I’ve gotten better with it as the years have passed, but my poor body image seems to rear its ugly head more days than not. I don’t think that many of us are free from this full on epidemic.
I was married to a man who told me I was going to amount to nothing, and that no one would ever love me after him. He told me I was either too skinny or too fat. I was never good enough. Those thoughts beat me up for a long time and I felt that what he said was true. No one would ever love me or find me pretty; forget beautiful. I mean how could they after he broke me so badly? Abusive men like to find women with self-esteem issues to latch on to. They know just how to push the ‘right’ buttons to make the woman feel even worse about herself. It is one of their ways of controlling them. I finally understood this when I left my husband. I decided that I needed to love me for me, and that healthy was more important than perfect.
Some of the most beautiful people I know are covered in battle scars both inside and out. These battles, some won and some lost, have transformed them. What matters is that you have a beautiful heart (a wry sense of humor is always welcome here). This is what I am passing on to my children: Be healthy, laugh often, listen well, and keep your heart beautiful…it doesn’t matter if you have perfect skin, a 4.0 GPA, or the body of Adonis. What is truly important is that you love people for who they are and that you are loved the same way in return.
We should always question the old sayings because sometimes they just aren’t true. Beauty is so much more than skin deep and we all need to remember that we are NOT the size of our jeans. We are living, beautiful human beings and we need to re-teach ourselves how to love ourselves at a very base level. I see too many women every day wasting time and shedding tears because they are not happy with the way they look.
Strive for healthy. It’s amazing how good you will feel and look when you are healthy throughout. Oh, and remember to thank your body everyday for getting you this far.