Be[YOU]tiful

All women want to feel beautiful.
Period.

But there’s a sad and awful truth about most of us.
No matter what we have,
We never believe we’re good enough–
Pretty enough, skinny enough, tall enough, tan enough.
If we have curves.. we want less.
If we have less.. we want curves.
Bigger eyes, thinner thighs, smaller feet, longer hair.

With so many features and such variety on the physical frame,
The possibilities for critiquing are truly endless.

.

I went to a conference last week at UVU.
Stephanie Nielson,
the woman who was 80% burned in a terrible plane crash,
was the speaker.

She spoke of her life before;
her dreams, family, and aspirations.
She then described her accident, recovery, and experiences since.

Although her physical pain was no doubt excruciating,
Her explanations of emotional trauma were even more distressing.

She described the first time she saw her reflection after her accident.
Working up the courage just to face the mirror, took over 5 months.
She panned up from her chest.. analyzing her chin, lips, nose…
Parts of ‘her’ that no longer looked like her.
She said the panic and pain rose–
Until she found her eyes.
Her eyes were the same. Green with gold specks.

Although there were many moments of strength and peace,
Stephanie battled daily the depression and devastation of her new reality.
She said sometimes she didn’t feel like a woman anymore.
More like a monster.
And at first, she never wanted her children to see her again.
She longed to look as she did before. To move as she once did.
To live like she always had.

.

It hit me, in that moment, how heartbreaking it is that we scrutinize or detest parts of our physical appearance.
What if what we do have– was taken away?
Wouldn’t we all plead to have it returned? Restored?
Wouldn’t we love and long for that part…
The part that we used to loathe?

.

Stephanie was asked by the audience what essential steps she took to start loving herself again.
Her answer,
“I looked for the good in and around me. So I could feel grateful…
Mostly, I learned to love myself because I knew the alternative.
And I didn’t like that alternative.”

.

I started asking myself what exactly she meant…
What is the alternative to loving yourself?

Self-consciousness. Hate. Criticism. Doubt. Frustration. Fear. Discouragement. Depression.
Forgotten blessings.
Missed opportunities.
Unrealized potential.
Wasted life.

.

I was at Lake Powell this last summer with my family.
One morning, I went to put my swimsuit on
and just stared at myself in the mirror.
From my toes to the top of my head,
I analyzed everything that was ‘wrong’ with me.
Those negative, and all too familiar, thoughts and feelings filled my mind.

But this time, another thought entered…
“I am 22 years old. I’m in the prime of my life.
My physical ‘looks’ will only age and digress from here.
If I can’t learn to love myself now–
What makes me think I ever will in the future?”

I realized that loving myself had to begin that very day.
I wasn’t going to spend my life feeling negative.
‘I didn’t like that alternative.’
After all, I have a strong, healthy body that breathes and moves.
A heart that beats and understands.
Eyes that see, a nose that smells,
Hands that can lift and serve.

And isn’t that beautiful?
Shouldn’t my physical frame merit some adoration for what it DOES and CAN do…
Instead of criticism for its limitations or perceived ‘imperfections’?
Culture and society cannot decide and define what is an ideal body…
So why do we let them?

The truth is, being beautiful isn’t about physicality at all.
Stephanie was proof of this.
Although her frame had been burned and scarred…
Her soul radiated absolute loveliness.

Beauty is confidence.
Happiness. Selflessness. Gratitude. Goodness.
Beauty is loving yourself;
So that ultimately, you can love others.
It is IN you.
So embrace yourself today and be Be[YOU]tiful.

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