Wednesday, August 4, 2010

happiness and confidence are independent of looks.

{This post is in honor of both the release of Caitlin's new book, Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time as well as Change The Way You See, Not The Way You Look Week. Click the image for more posts!}

I have been blessed my entire life with a mostly unwavering confidence in how I look. A better way to put it is that I’ve always been comfortable with my body.

I’ve had my moments – like when I was the only thirteen-year-old who didn’t fill out her dance costume at all – but I can’t recall a single moment when I looked in the mirror and full-on hated something about myself. There could’ve been plenty of opportunity for it. I have a very large, full-length mirror in the front of my room where I could easily have spent hours nitpicking my flaws and wondering why certain parts couldn’t be bigger, smaller, smoother, or just prettier.

It certainly helps that I was a gangly little girl who grew up with a dancer’s body – I won’t deny that it probably played a part in fending off negative thoughts. Still, there were things I didn’t care for: my ghost-white complexion, lifeless and plain brown hair, and left eyebrow that doesn’t grow in properly. But I never obsessed over these things; I paid little to no attention to them on a daily basis, even with the huge mirror in my face every morning.

Society places so much importance on looking good and meeting some crazy and unrealistic standards. Not once have I ever looked in a magazine and believed I needed to look like someone in it. I thought it might be nice to have blonde hair or bigger boobs, but I never hated myself for not looking that way. It saddens me so much to know that there are hundreds of girls out there do that and how damaging it is to their self-image.

When I see all of the negative body image issues that people have, my heart breaks. Every time I come across someone who is criticizing themselves, I want to scoop them up into a big hug and tell them that they’re wrong, that they’re beautiful in every way no matter what. It’s a tough battle to want to fight because we're all our own worst critic. Each of our inner voices are fierce and won’t back down even if you get twenty comments about how beautiful you are.

It's even harder sometimes because I worry that people think, well, it's easy for me to say "love yourself" because they don't believe I have any major flaws. But in all honesty, that has nothing to do with it. I’m not confident and happy because of how I look. My confidence and happiness are independent of my looks.

That is what is so wonderful about the message behind Operation Beautiful. It’s a way to help people understand that their beauty truly lies within and that trying to “fix” your body is never going to bring happiness. Instead we have to fix the way we see ourselves and realize that we are all truly beautiful.

If I could bottle up my self-assuredness and pass it along to every girl out there who struggles with how they look, I would do it in an instant because I know how rare it can be. Since that’s impossible, though, the next step is to spread the love whenever I can.

So, please. Remember that YOU are beautiful. Yes, every single one of you (even if your inner voice is calling me a liar). Take some time today to remember that and spread the word to everyone you know this week that it’s all about how we see, not how we look.