Several years ago, when my oldest daughter was about five, I had been busy working in the garden and then realized that I needed something from the store. She and I hopped into the van and headed out. Before we got to the end of our lane, she asked me, “Mom, are you going to wear that to the store??” I was still in my gardening clothes–work boots, holes in my jeans and some dirt on my shirt. This isn’t any big thing for me–I look like this most of the summer. I replied, “Sure. Why not?” She then came back with, “Well, if you were in a beauty contest with other moms, especially McKendyll’s mom….you would NOT win.” After a moment of silence (to process my shock and the hilarity of what she had just said to me), I said something that may be one of the truest things I have ever said to her: “Lucky for me, I’m not in a beauty contest with any other mom.”
Why do we think we are? Why do we as women always consider our own beauty in relation to someone else’s? Consciously, we all know it’s not a contest, right? But it’s that sneaky subconscious that keeps us wondering if somehow my worth is connected to my beauty, or worse yet, someone else’s.
I think this is why the magazine stand at the store is such a problem for so many women. We see a beautiful model, our subconscious whispers the question, “Are you worthy?” and the comparison begins. Look at her legs. They are so long. Mine are short and have cellulite. Look at her hair. So long and shiny. Look at her belly, her boobs, her lips, her perfection ….. And look at mine. I am less than. I am not beautiful because I am not her.
Or maybe we don’t like feeling less-than, so we put her down. We think things like, She really should eat something. No healthy person looks like that! Or Wow! What a tramp, flaunting herself like that. No self-dignity. What was her designer thinking with that outfit? She looks so awful with her makeup done like that. All the while, our subconscious fear of unworthiness is running wild.
But a few years ago, I read an article that was the solution for all of us women! Guess what?? There is this thing called airbrushing, where they take the photo of the model and then make it look even better. Isn’t this the best revelation? So now when we look at her, we can try to level the playing field rather than idolize or criticize. We can say, “No way are her legs really that thin! No way do her lips look that full! Wow! What a fake!” Now we are simply stating the facts. But somehow it doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels like if we need to level the playing field, it must still be a competition. And we are still being led by that little subconscious voice: Are you worthy? By picking her apart and critiquing her beauty and deciding that it all must be fake, we become closer to her, and now maybe, just maybe, we are worthy.
But what if our own worthiness had nothing to do with her beauty? What then? Maybe then we could look at her and think, Wow! She is beautiful. She has the perfect body for a model! And then we can look at ourselves and say Wow! I am beautiful. I have the perfect body for a mom! Maybe we could recognize that she works hard at what she does and is really good at it. And that we also work hard at what we do, and we are really good at it too. Maybe, if our worthiness had nothing to do with her beauty, it wouldn’t be a contest.
I have good news: IT DOESN’T and, lucky for us, IT ISN’T.
So let’s start seeing the beauty–in ourselves and in the other women we see each day. We don’t need to idolize, criticize, or level the playing field, because it isn’t a contest. We are ALL beautiful. We are ALL worthy.
Love your body, and your body will love you. ♥