On Put-Down Beauty

There is a lot of truth to the old maxim that the first thing a woman looks at when she walks into a party are the other women. Because before ever even considering who it is we would like to ask for our number, we want to see who our competition is. And this, it seems, is where put-down beauty starts. Suddenly our aim is not to find out who we are attracted to (i.e. dudes), but criticize what we don’t find attractive. Suddenly it doesn’t matter if I forgot to put on lipstick. Or my hair is in a ponytail. Or I’m wearing sneakers. Because as long as I perceive myself as more attractive than Brenda, Grace, and Mary, I can have pride in who I am. I know this is not just my life. And this is unhealthy.

Perhaps it starts with Mother Nature or “survival of the fittest.” But I believe it’s time to embrace we are more man than beast. Because wherever put-down beauty started, it certainly has evolved. When our own beauty is only determined by the “shortcomings” of those around us, it is a terribly insecure thing. It is unstable, ever changing, and unfulfilling. It is what leads us, when people complement our appearance, to embrace that other old maxim, “Oh, this old thing?” This old dress? This plain hair? This imperfect body? Nothing special there.

Perhaps we first say it out of shyness or surprise. But eventually we come to say it out of shame. Because when the whole world is perceiving with a critical eye, the last thing you want it to look at is you. Gandhi once said, “

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” When we believe, think, and act based on our negative perception of other people, the negative perception becomes our destiny as well. But we can change our beliefs. How we think. The way we act. What we value. When we perceive the world with eyes of gratitude, when we thank God for other’s beauty, like we thank Him for the beauty of trees, and tulips, and ocean breezes, we can’t help but be more grateful when we look in the mirror. Without a room full of comparisons. A barometer of beauty.Alone.  We gain the ability to judge ourselves, and others, not based upon deviations from the ideal, but based upon our appreciation of the exquisite. Which just makes life that much more beautiful in itself.

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