How to Feel Beautiful

Beauty is highly valued in our society, but what does beauty actually mean, and why do even the most beautiful among us feel ugly? according to a new report by TODAY and AOL the average woman spends 55 minutes every day “beautifying” themselves. More than 2,000 adults and 200 teenagers were surveyed, and 78% reported spending close to an hour because, “it made them feel better about themselves”. That’s a lot of time, so is it working?

While 80% of the women surveyed said that all women have something beautiful about them, a whopping 96% said they wouldn’t use the word “beautiful” to describe themselves. Not only that, 78% of women said they don’t feel completely confident in their own beauty. Whoa! If we’re spending so much time on beauty, why do we have such a hard time feeling beautiful?

I believe our struggles come from a misunderstanding of what actions will lead to feeling and experiencing more beauty: We are all busy trying to BE beautiful, we forget to SEE beautiful. Let me explain…

The dictionary defines beauty as: that which pleases the senses, especially sight.

This definition is a huge “ah-ha” moment. It points out that beauty is all about seeing with pleasure. That means that when I’m hungry and see the waiter bring my plate of food, that is beauty! The sight of it brings me pleasure. When my husband does the dishes, and I come home to see a clean kitchen, that is indeed a pleasurable sight.

So, if beauty is actually seeing with pleasure, not a consumer standard of thinness and symmetry, feeling beautiful might be easier than we think! Instead of putting in all the work to try to be different to feel beautiful, what if we try to see differently to feel beautiful? If indeed beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps the trick is to learn to be a beholder of beauty. Maybe it’s all about what we focus on. I decided to try it.

Every day for one week, I spent the average amount of time women spend on “beautifying” themselves (55 minutes) and instead looked around me and recorded every beautiful thing I could see. The first few days, I avoided the mirror all together. I looked in my garden at first, recording the flowers and the sky. Then around the house, I started seeing everyday objects with a new perspective. After awhile it got easier and more fun to take the time to see beauty. On a day I was feeling good, I decided to face the mirror and practiced looking for the beauty. Wow! I appreciated details I had never even seen before, as my blemishes and so-called flaws faded into the background. What a difference. I hadn’t changed a thing about my appearance, but I felt so much more beautiful. I changed my perspective, and it changed how I saw myself.

I’m forever changed after that week. I never stopped looking for beauty. When I hear the word “beauty” I no long think of a model from a magazine or runway. I see the people I love. I see food and nature, smiles and hugs. The good stuff. I see myself. I’ve unlearned the consumerist propaganda, and am learning how good it feels to be on the lookout for beauty in myself, in others, and in the world. I’ve learned to feel more and more beautiful, because I am now a better beholder of beauty.