When Beauty becomes the Beast

We all like to look beautiful. Beauty comes with a shadow. The shadow includes jealousy, lust, objectification …. You can probably add a few of your own. It’s a long list of uninvited things. Have you ever wondered why they are there?

I’ve sat on the razor’s edge of beauty. It took me places I didn’t expect. Being slender lead me to flaunt with anorexia in my youth. As a young woman, I dimmed my light and hid. I got angry at the injustice of it all. I lost myself among the definitions of who I should be as a woman. Outside definitions came into my inner space and ran amok. Messy.

I’ve spent a good part of my life reclaiming who I am. Coming from a place of self-loathing to a place of self-compassion has taken many years. It’s been painful and confusing because truth and fallacies can look so alike, a bit like Cape Weed hiding among the Poppies. Sometimes you can’t distinguish the interloper until it declares itself by flowering.

Beauty is a volatile and reactive space.

No matter what you do or wear someone will be impacted by your choice. It may or may not rattle their inner space. And they may or may not rattle yours by sharing their pain. What do you do with that? Life’s curved balls often leave us mute and retrospectively self-flagellating.

We’ve been told that beauty comes from within. This is the bread and butter of self-esteem which our parents and teachers try to feed us. Comments, TV, social media, magazines, peers … all these influences water down that message. Who do you believe?

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Men and women struggle with their relationships with themselves. I have recently come to understand that no one can do anything to you. Ugly, ugly, ugly fact which sent me into massive resistance for a long time. If I was hurting, it was because someone had hurt me, invalidated me or insulted me etc. I am not advocating passivity or lack of boundaries but I am saying, if we are solid in our relationship with ourselves, we will be able to withstand the curved balls.

Curved balls are little tests to see how solid we are.

I am beginning to understand that I need to be compassionate with myself. It is okay to have believed half-truths. It is okay to be vulnerable. It is okay to be imperfect. I am trying to take a deep breath when someone pushes my buttons to minimise my reactivity and explore what am being called to see.

Beauty is just another example, but because it has a sensual and sexual component, another level of complexity is in the mix. Sensuality has an emotional component. And emotions tend to flare. Reactions to the expression of beauty may well be projections of another’s beliefs but if they get through, maybe your relationship with yourself needs review.

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