Is “Beautiful” Perfection?

I have been thinking about the word “beautiful.” Where does beauty lie? As women, we often define ourselves by our looks. We have been taught that beautiful means perfection when it comes to our bodies.

From the time I was a child I did not think I measured up to the definition of beauty. At 4 years of age, my younger sister was born. She was one of those classic beauties: blond, curly hair and blue eyes. People would often stop us when we were out somewhere and comment on her beauty. By comparison, I felt plain. All my sisters had something about them that made them seem beautiful to me. Even then I saw perfection in everyone but myself. So, I turned to my mind. I began to define my personal value as being based on my intellect. As a middle child, I was often “the peacekeeper.” At a young age, I started thinking of myself as a bridge between people, as I was trying to keep others happy by my ability to see both sides and finding the words to help others see the other person’s perspective. It was a natural ability that I developed which would enhance my value in my work and personal life. But if you are a “bridge,” your life is always about supporting other people, and not letting the light shine on you. So, this is what makes the present journey for me so difficult. Now at 70, I am needing to answer to the call that is my gift: my piece of the puzzle that I was born to share. But it seems that I must step out and be seen in to do this. So here is where the concept of beauty becomes a barrier for me. How can I be “seen” if my definition of beauty is perfection?

Two years ago, I lost 30 pounds, and people were beginning to comment on my looks. While I was delighted, it just reinforced my thought that I had to change my looks to be noticed. The problem was that to lose this weight I had to fast up to 80 consecutive hours during the week. Not sustainable. While it took two years, I gradually gained the weight back. I ended up again using the barrier of beauty to hold me back. How can I step out now?

So again, self-doubt raised its ugly head. The desire to manifest my dreams was so strong that it created a bodily discomfort, the pressure became so acute that I had to act. Then came Soul-Tribe, a brilliant concept to help people like me manifest their dreams and push away the self-doubt. Business concepts and websites were created. It was an amazing life-giving process. After launching the site and essentially my third act, I went undercover again.

Seven months later I wrote a piece from the heart and posted it on Facebook. Minutes after posting I also changed my profile picture which was 10 years old. Reactions to both the post and the photo started to come in. Comments calling me “beautiful,.” In hindsight, I realize I was putting myself out there showing both my inner and outer self. Now I am feeling vulnerable but also finally showing myself to the world with all my imperfections. I can no longer be defined by others. I am who I am. This writing process is to help me not crawl back under the rock. Loving one’s self is not easy even when others celebrate who you are. It is never enough until the change happens from the inside out.

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Carole MacInnis