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My work with the concept of beauty

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

I was hesitant to write about this topic because I am still in the middle of the work and many unpleasant experiences are attached to this word. But this is an important topic: first, to face all those negative notions I have buried deep inside me, second I have a daughter with whom I would like to have a more conscious conduct with regard to this issue.

Early years

Growing up as a girl I was constantly faced with the notion of being beautiful – or rather not being beautiful. I was a little overweight, did not get much support from my family to accept my body or encouragement to do some sports. I needed to figure it out by myself. As far as I can remember back I hated my body – I saw other girls who looked better than me (in my definition this equaled that they were skinnier) and envied them. I looked at the body of my classmates in the dressing room before the gym and compared them to mine. And I was satisfied when I found some imperfection in the skinny girls.

The one that is three – as a teenager

I read an article in a teenage magazine that was about acceptance and it made the suggestion to start small: find one thing you like about your body. This broke the ice. I found three (neck, hair, fingers) for the first time! I finally could praise something about myself, and accept rare, but always present compliments without my usual hands-on refusal. At least I saw some beauty in myself and this also calmed my comparison mania (which still surfaces even today where my gain is a small boost to my self-confidence from this “competition”).

Training in my 20’s

The next milestone was a women’s training in my twenties where we had to stand in front of a group of 15 and say positive attributes about ourselves. I deliberately challenged myself, and said something I never said before and did not even believe was true: I am beautiful. What helped me say those words? I thought it over and decided that this is a protected environment, so the best place to try something new – that’s what trainings are for. So I said it and… Nothing happened. No shaking of the walls or dropping of the ceiling. No one objected, no one called me vain, I was accepted and reassured as I was standing there. Maybe there is some beauty in me… A tiny glimpse of light entered my stubborn head insisting on my ‘I am not beautiful’ affirmation.

New habits built

After making this statement, the next step was quick to follow: maybe beauty is not an objective true or false sentence, but a state of mind that can be reassured with my words, my self-confidence, my attitude? So I started to say positive sentences about my look and accepted gratefully compliments. I acknowledged to my mirror image those mornings when I saw something of beauty on myself – a couple occasions a month as my critic was (and is) still alive and active.

The effect of the number on the scale

Beauty was very much linked to my weight all my life, I tried various diets to become the skinny person of whom I held an image in my head. I was persistent and believed that someday I will succeed and be her. In order to arrive at a healthy beauty concept, I needed to address my weight and its effect on me.

All my diets were futile until I gave up on scaling myself and stopped being dependent on the number of my weight, a sharp moment I remember exactly: I gained a lot of weight over a short period of time, I can easily recall the moment I was staring at a magazine ad of a model and felt miserable. I was aware of the efforts of my teenage years and how ineffective they have been. I gave up. I wasn’t interested in stepping on the scale anymore because I knew it will screw my day.

Then came my dismay: this number has a hold on me and decides what mood I am in. What a realization!

In 2000, I vowed never to step on a scale anymore. During the last 15 years, I have been sometimes heavier and sometimes lighter (two pregnancies included), and I was sometimes upset and sometimes happy about my size. But my weight seized to be linked the beauty I saw in myself.

Present

Here I am now: I now know that I can be beautiful for some, very important people like myself, my partner, my kids. And there are days when I am not beautiful because I am tired, do not have time for myself or have been eating junk food. And both states are okay.

If you are open and willing to learn about yourself, I put together some questions for you to follow me in exploring the beauty concept in your life:

 

My greatest challenge is supporting my daughter to create her own, healthy beauty concept. I have no idea whether I am on the right track or not – she is a beauty, oh yes, she is – but what serves her better, letting her know or not being told? Disregarding the whole issue or openly addressing it? I will let you know in 20 years.

 

This article originally appeared on themindfulword.org on 10/07/2015.

 



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