How would you describe someone you regard as beautiful? Please take a second and think of at least 6 adjectives you would use to characterize him or her. And now, I’ve got one more favour to ask. Classify those attributes under two headings: physical traits and personal qualities. What do your lists look like? Are your lists evenly balanced or is one list longer than the other? Recently, I asked several friends the same question and guess what; their lists were almost completely weighted on the physical attributes side. And these are bright, well-educated, and successful women in their own right. There’s no question that what one person perceives as beautiful can be completely different from someone else’s perception. But I’d like to challenge all of us to re-think the way we define beauty. Why? Because it’s a proven fact that our often narrow view of what’s beautiful in today’s society is making it very difficult for the average person to feel good about themselves. Unless we’re model thin, young and have beautiful complexions, some of us walk around feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. I’ve been reading several accounts lately of women who have struggled with eating disorders. Some of the women have overcome this illness and have learned to feel beautiful despite the fact they are not bone thin. But far too many of them are still struggling on a daily basis with their body image. One woman says she feels uncomfortable if her husband sees her fully undressed and only likes to be intimate if all of the lights are dimmed. Can you imagine feeling anxious about nudity in the privacy of your own bedroom? A revolution in the way society defines beauty is long overdue! This is not new thinking on my behalf. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was launched in 2004 and serves as a starting point for societal change. For 6 years, it’s been pushing to widen the definition of beauty. How successful has it been? I guess that takes us back to my original question. How many of you had more attributes listed on the personal qualities side of the lists you created at the start of this exercise? When people start equating beauty with self-confidence, inner peace and a healthy self-esteem, then we’ll know we are well on our way to healing the damage inflicted by a society that previously expected us all to be “perfect”. Please feel free to share your stories and struggles on your journey towards self-acceptance.
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