We all know the phrase “Beauty is Only Skin Deep”. I remember my mother telling me that many years ago. She was counseling me to go beyond the surface of things to get to what’s real underneath. It was wonderful advice. True beauty is beyond physical; it is the sum of all the parts of a person. And so I have spent my life developing all parts of my personality and my humanity so that the allure within me could shine through. The following account is not a cry for anyone to reinforce my looks, it is simply a description of a journey of physical self-perception.
My early adult experience was completely contrary to what I had been taught about the beauty within. I remember looking in the mirror as a ten year old girl. I was not depressed about how I looked, but I was constantly looking towards the future. I always thought that when I reached 18, I would turn into a beautiful swan. I had been through countless fashion magazines thinking that I too would look something like Jill Goodacre or Karen Mulder simply because that’s how older women looked. By body would become perfectly proportioned and the world would be my oyster. I would no doubt find true love.
When I went off to college however, it didn’t take long for me to be rejected countless times. Having gone to an all-girl school, I hadn’t had a ton of dating opportunity beforehand. But since I had molded myself into someone who was smart, funny, good-hearted and enjoyable to be around, I thought everything would be OK. But I was constantly considered to be simply in the “friend zone”. Of course, I tried my best to figure out why. The more I looked in the mirror, the more I saw my dad’s face. And while that face looked wonderful on a man, I had convinced myself it didn’t belong on a woman. It was the beginning of the plummeting of my self-worth. The worst part was that I couldn’t do anything about it; I could dress myself as best as I could but I couldn’t change my face.
I looked at all the girls who were sought after during college and they all had one thing in common; quintessential beauty. No one seemed to be reviewing their resumes or enjoying their humor. It seemed to me that if they looked spectacular they could get away with being at the very least uninteresting or at the very most downright mean. I felt cheated and misled. But mostly, I felt sub-par and unworthy. I wished so badly that I had morphed into the auburn-haired, green-eyed beauty that I felt would have matched the personality I had developed within. But it was simply about survival of the fittest within that environment and I was failing miserably.
My self-worth went through a challenging journey over the next fifteen years. I spent so much time trying to prove that I was attractive by giving myself away to the wrong people. I constantly obsessed over being in a relationship and the physicality of that relationship. I was convinced that once I found the ideal relationship it would prove I was attractive. I lost valuable time that I could have used doing a million more productive activities.
It’s taken so much time to recognize the meaning of true love, which truly does go beyond skin-deep. And it takes people of true character to go beyond high level good looks. So many women are constantly depressed because they do not fit what they experience to be the absolute. But society is often constantly reinforcing that ideal. While it would be wonderful to be the gorgeous woman I had once envisioned I could be, I have finally embraced the substance that is inside of me and stopped wishing it went beyond that. While I’m no model, I am me. And I am finally content in who I am and what I have become. I’m hoping time is good to me, and allows me to truly enjoy what’s left of the future.