September is one of my favourite months. Not just because it generally brings on the cooler weather (sweaters, scarves and redheadweather ftw!) but because it always feels like a great time to refresh, reboot, or restart, if you need to, ya know? I think a lot of people choose September to start new health habits or get back into a previous health routine after having eased up on their own ‘rules’ in the busy-ness, excitement and non-routine-ness of summer.
While we are in the mode of starting up healthier habits, I have a challenge for all of my ladies out there… well, maybe for the men-types, too! Instead of just changing our eating and exercise habits on the on-going quest to be better versions of ourselves, let’s look at our habits of thought around what that ‘better’ really is to us, and our purpose/intent behind it all. Sometimes the nature of the initial impetus, the thought that becomes our reason for making the decision to change, can have the ultimate influence on whether or not we succeed in the new challenges we’ve put to ourselves. Healthy, positive intentions = higher success rate, whereas negative, harsh self-criticism = maybe not doing so well… Well at least that’s what I believe. I have done zero scientific research here. This theory comes purely from my personal experience and conversations with the people in my life. But this is my blog, so I figure that’s enough data ;P
Maybe changing our thoughts around our own beauty is the first, most important step toward feeling beautiful as we go through life. And there is something very special about actually feeling beautiful, rather than just looking it. One of those is for you, and the other one can feel like it’s for everyone else.
I am always having conversations with women – my friends, my family, my clients – about beauty and self-awareness. The subject comes up pretty naturally because of what I do for a living, and I am continually fascinated by people’s perspectives on the topic. Many of the women I chat with are actually aware that their vision of their physical self is skewed, but that doesn’t really change the fact that they see themselves very differently than others see them. And that they don’t feel beautiful (when they clearly are!) I want us all to feel it, even if only once in a while.
So many people are quick to blame the magazines and the beauty industry, and I agree that there is some major improvement to be made there, as far as the presentation of healthy, diverse beauty goes. But I love the magazines. I love their glossy pages full of beautiful garments and godly-looking human beings – I won’t deny it. I have always loved them. But I am also fully aware, as I believe most women these days are, that those photos are generally not portrayals of every-day reality*
(not my image – although if anyone has a pet lion they would like to pose with, please call me asap)
and shouldn’t be used as measuring sticks against one’s own personal beauty.
But even while I think it’s important to keep it real, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of makeup, lovely soft light, or the odd touch-up every once in a while. I love what Tina Fey has to say about photoshop and professional portraits in her book, Bossypants:
“Feminists do the best Photoshop because they leave the meat on your bones. They don’t change your size or your skin color. They leave in your disgusting knuckles, but they may take out some armpit stubble. Not because they’re denying its existence, but because they understand that it’s okay to make a photo look as if you were caught on your best day in the best light.”
― Tina Fey, Bossypants
I think the real reasons behind a person’s mis-conception of his or her own beauty are as diverse as we are as human beings. We have all got weird things going on in our brains when we look at ourselves in the mirror or in photos, so there’s no blanket solution to the issue. But I do think it helps to just talk about it. And to grab any opportunity we can to see and appreciate and own our own beauty. Learn to take a compliment, and to actually believe it – that is a decision, peeps, and it is a hard one to make sometimes, but there’s where changing habits of thought comes in. If it’s your habit to deny the compliment, whether you do it verbally or just in the privacy of your own head, then try to acknowledge this the next time it happens, and make a change. In the moment. Try to breathe it in and feel it, even just for a moment. In the cliche-and-cheezy-but-still-so-very-true words of L’Oreal, “Because you’re worth it.”
I asked some of the women in my life to define ‘healthy beauty’ to me. Here’s what these gorgeous, wise women said:
When I think of healthy beauty or try to envision it, I think about being natural. There’s a certain radiance that shows when we love and accept ourselves for who we are in our most natural state. Every woman, every person is beautiful in their own individual way. ~Kristi
Healthy beauty has become so important to me since having a daughter. I will set the example for her in how to perceive her own ever changing body by how I treat my own. I show her how to eat healthy, enjoy treats, exercise because it makes us feel good, as does shaking out booties – AND all of our jiggly bits! I have really become comfortable with my own beauty, and hope that I can help her learn those lessons a little more easily than I did. When in doubt, wear sequins. Everyone feels beautiful in sequins. ~Stephanie
Healthy beauty is reflected by somebody who is comfortable in their own skin and bones. I normally interpret that as big smiles, positive energy, and genuine kindness. It’s a love for oneself and therefor others. ~Magi
There are so many examples all around us of unhealthy beauty that I think the healthy ones can sometimes get mired. We’re distracted by fancy cars, expensive clothes and designer bodies. So much so that we start to change our definition of beauty. But what is beautiful? When we were little, back before we knew what cellulite was, what brands we were wearing or understood what $300 was let alone knew we might one day pay that much for jeans, what did we find beautiful? Our best friend when she held our hand on the way to school. Our kindergarten teacher who swept us into her arms for a hug on our first day. Our one-armed doll that was our faithful sidekick. The aunt that let us lick the spoon. Our moms. Nowhere in my memory are there perfect abs or expensive things. There are big smiles. Kisses. Kind eyes. Soft, warm bodies. And there is beauty. ~Kate
I believe that beauty is from within and is revealed in a confident women. Confidence can come from self, from others, from external and internal love. ~Andrea
I would define healthy beauty as – confidence. When I am struck by a woman’s beauty, it is because she exudes confidence and charisma. Even in a portrait photo, her smile, posture and eyes reveal so much about how she values herself. ~Heidi
Healthy beauty sparkles from the inside out through the eyes and heart of the individual who “is”, who accepts and knows themselves and who is connected or is meeting themselves where they are at each moment!
Beauty is as authentic as each of us is different! ~Susan
Healthy beauty to me is simplicity, vulnerability, uniqueness all wrapped up in one!! ~Christine
I am constantly grateful for all of the amazing things my healthy body can do, and all of the amazing places it takes me. To me, ‘healthy beauty’ is being confident, happy, and appreciating my body. I think the most beautiful thing is a genuine smile because you can tell that someone is truly happy. ~Emily
Healthy beauty to me is someone who respects their bodies and minds from the inside and out and loves themselves for who they are. ~Laurie
Healthy beauty is a radiance that shines both inside and out. It’s the vision of a woman who exhibits confidence in taking care of her physical, mental and spiritual self. At glance we recognize her dedication to nurturing her own well-being, indulging in her unique desires, celebrating her own body, expanding her mind, and carefully cultivating her gifts prior to sharing her wonderful self deliberately, compassionately with others. ~Carmen
I think to me healthy beauty implies natural. Someone who wears minimum makeup and the makeup they do wear comes from earthy ingredients (like the blush I use now is a dried out slice of beet! Or there are a ton of natural makeups out there now and DIYs). Someone who gets rejuvenated by being outdoors and sweating or soaking up the sun as apposed to finding rejuvenation in a bottle. Someone who takes care of themselves through nutrition and exercise…and who happens to like to look good, too! 🙂 ~Janelle
To me there is nothing more beautiful than a girl with confidence. Someone who is comfortable in their own skin. When I think of healthy beauty I think of women in sport and the confidence you build from that, not only does it make you look healthier but it makes you feel really good. ~Michaela
When I see a woman who is filled with joy and passion, her eyes sparkle and has a healthy glow. Loving her authentic self, makes her magnetic and beautiful. ~Bonny-Lynn
To me, healthy beauty is a confident smile outlined with glowing eyes. The catch is – such smile and eyes can only stem from the inside. If one feels beauty on the inside, the whole world will never stop watching. ~Angela
Healthy beauty is about taking care of yourself, thinking positively about yourself, and letting the amazing person on the inside shine his/her bright light to the world around them. ~Jaclyn
I am so blessed and grateful to know each of these women. Ladies, you have each inspired me in so many ways; thank-you so much for helping me with this little post and for being in my life! Your words are moving and you are all amazing.