For readers of my last blog, you will know we recently moved to the country, and are finding our feet. This has brought up the realisation for me (and my wife but as she isn’t writing this blog we shall just talk about me) that I am a square peg in a round hole.
In our village there are lots of expensive houses with lots of bedrooms and big gardens. This is not including our house which is pretty small and one of the cheapest in the village. I could launch into a whole explanation of why we chose a smaller house than we could afford a mortgage for, but those of you reading this who are either minimalists or frugalists, you will get it, so I won’t waste precious writing space. However we find ourselves living cheek by jowl with lots of wealthy people who speak as if they have plums in their mouth and drive very big cars and wear the sort of country outerwear that would cost my whole month’s salary.
It would be a lie to say everyone in the village is like this, but it got me thinking. We don’t fit in (yet – as we won’t be beaten, we will make it our home) but actually I’ve never felt like I’ve fitted in, and is that actually a bad thing?
I’ve always been pretty overweight, I’ve always wanted my hair short, and lately it’s been really short. I came out as a lesbian at 34. I don’t have a TV. I tend to mix far too many patterns together on any outfit I wear. I don’t read newspapers, and I don’t follow popular culture although I do sometimes have a guilty pleasure of seeing what all the trashy celebs are up to on Facebook. It’s fair to say I am not the norm, and I have often found I don’t fit in. And actually that’s OK. I like not watching TV. I prefer not knowing what is happening in the news, because it’s all really miserable anyway and so it doesn’t make my life any better. I don’t need to know who’s broken up with who in the world of celebrity, or which Z-lister has had surgery when they clearly need therapy. Yeah I could probably take one less pattern off when I get dressed but would that be fun? I have tried wearing my hair long. I hate it. And I have tried every diet known to mankind and I’m still here, fat and no further on. This isn’t a negative for me though. As someone who ascribes to positive thinking on a daily basis, I think it’s OK to be different. In fact it’s to be celebrated. The media (OK I do see what goes on through the eyes of social media and the internet) tell us what size we should be, what we should wear, what we should eat, how we should look when we’re eating it, the places to go, the people to hang out with, and if we’re not doing all of these things we’ve failed. Really? There’s so much pressure to have the perfect life that we’re making a rod for our own back by even trying. So I gave up years ago after crumpling in an a heap having given it a good go and finding I am pretty much imperfect so I might just go with it. And actually life is much easier when you go with your own flow. You feel like there’s nothing to compete with, and the only person you owe an explanation to is yourself.
So I won’t be buying a barbour jacket (not sure they come plus size anyway) and hunter wellies. I will still tend my little plot of garden in my bright green shift dress and I will still smile and say hello to every person I meet as if we’re equals. Underneath we’re all the same; a soul with a purpose and sometimes when you feel a bit out of your depth it’s easy to forget that.
According to mainstream society, the national health service, and the majority of the world’s press I am a pariah. I’m short, fat, I have very short hair, tattoos and piercings, and today I have realised after 38 years that my ears are at different heights. I do not measure up the the ‘acceptable’ convention of beauty. Yet I look in the mirror and still see beauty. Why?￼
Well.. there are many definitions of beauty. Here are a few I like
Urban Dictionary (by Bulletproof Marshmallow)
“Beauty is a thing seldom seen. It is held by all within the soul it lies, waiting to come out to the surface, but it can only be found if someone is sharing your soul with you. Beauty is suppressed by the evils of the world. Only love can bring beauty out. Once seen, beauty never hides again. Not even hatred can deny beauty of it’s true design. Beauty, although possessed by all by few and fewer yet will ever see one of the most beautiful sights – the beauty held by you.”
Lexi Herrick Founder of HerTrack.com writes in the Huffington Post..
“Beauty is happiness.
Beauty has varied throughout time, various cultures and the vast different perceptions of the world. Beauty has been described and depicted through pictures and concepts penetrating our minds. Beauty has been defined in so many ways. What I have discovered is that beauty is simple. Beauty is happiness.”
In Koine Greek, beauty was associated with “being of one’s hour”. Thus, a ripe fruit (of its time) was considered beautiful.
These are just 6 definitions. Google has 105,000,000 of them. So therefore how can any one definition be THE definition of beauty? Who tells you you’re beautiful? You do. One of the things I have studied over the years is the power of positive thinking, and being positive. Positive people are nicer to be around, they don’t drain you of your energy, in fact they lift you up, they make you feel good. If you have any sense you surround yourself with them. Positive people see beauty in everything; the lone dandelion in a sea of grass, the clouds across a sunny sky, and most importantly themselves. If I look in the mirror and pull myself apart, how can I ever be positive about other things? And being positive is such a lovely feeling, I wouldn’t want to lose that. Don’t get me wrong, that took years of self help books, a good few rounds of therapy and lots of painful looking in the mirror to get to the point where I can say ‘Yeah you’re teeth could be whiter, your face could be thinner’, and now I need to add on ‘your ears could be level’, but actually every day you get up, you breathe, you get to do wonderful things like be alive, be free, feel the wind on your face, experience everything life throws at you, and then I smile, and there is nothing like a smile to create beauty.
Being short, fat, with more than my fair share of facial hair means that conventionally I am not going to win any prizes for beauty, but I don’t accept those definitions. I have trained my mind to see beauty when I look in the mirror, and you can do this too.
I believe beauty, as in everything we feel, think or know comes from the mind. Our mind. We have the ability to look at ourselves and see a beautiful person, or look at see ugliness.
I have an exercise you can try to start yourself on the road to feeling beautiful every time you look in the mirror. I won’t pretend it won’t be hard, it make take years to look at yourself and say ‘Yeah I AM beautiful’ but you could start on the journey today. Want to give yourself that gift?
OK. So take a deep breath and go and look into the mirror. You don’t need to go naked or anything, but hey if you’re brave enough good on you, you’ll need to do it at some point.
Take a look. It’s very likely if you’ve never done this before, your brain will say ‘Oh look at your knobbly knees’, or ‘Oh that double chin has grown a bit’. Every time you hear a negative comment, acknowledge it, and counter it with a positive. So you can find something you like about yourself such as your long eyelashes, or your nose, or your lustrous hair! Then say ‘I am beautiful’. You are probably feeling the opposite of beautiful right now. It’s really hard to do this when you start. But you can train your mind to only see beauty. Eventually you will be able to identify the negative self talk, really quickly counteract it, and acknowledge your beauty. Try doing this every day. If some days you find it harder than others, just say to yourself ‘I am beautiful’, your brain will start to accept and change the way you see things. It might not be beauty as society sees it. How many of us are 5’10 and a size zero with no body hair? But as the last quote above says so eloquently…beauty is a light in the heart, and you can definitely give yourself that.