Nothing gives human-beings such pleasure than that of beauty. It’s hardwired in our DNA. Studies have shown that babies will actually stare at people who have more symmetrical faces than those without. Part of living is our ability to appreciate, want, lust over and love beautiful things. We work long and hard to earn money to afford pretty possessions, we get excited and nervous when meeting someone we consider especially attractive and we take photos to remember beautiful times. It’s hard to imagine a life where beauty did not exist, and depending on your attitudes towards what beauty is, some may be able to experience it more than others.
I remember a time when I didn’t consider myself beautiful at all. I was sixteen with the works; braces, oily skin, awkward lanky build and a bunch of pimples and acne scars that covered my face. When I first noticed how awful my skin was, I was on a family holiday in Tasmania (the little piece of Australia that broke off). As I walked into the lobby of the hotel which was filled with natural sunlight, I glanced at my reflection in the floor-length mirror and immediately averted my gaze. Was that really me? Until this point I hadn’t realized the state of my skin because I unintentionally looked at myself in mirrors with only dim or soft-lighting. From that point on I made it my mission to achieve a flawless complexion. I read books about eating the right food for good skin, tried a myriad of products from supermarket and pharmacy brands and eventually got a job working for a luxury skincare company.
In my journey to having clear, healthy skin, I remember the point when I needed to see myself for what I was, trusting dim light to see if my skin was improving would be a task in vain. In my parent’s bedroom was a large rectangular window with a view into the neighborhood, the forests and the mountains in the far off distance. This was where the most crude and revealing light was in my old house. Every morning I would wake up and look at myself in a round portable mirror that rested on the windowsill, and forced myself to look at my skin in the mirror. I would observe every bump and scar, every pore and pustule, all the while affirming to myself that this was ME and I needed to accept reality.
From that day on, my skin was finally improving as I was able to identify with absolute clarity what was and wasn’t working for my skin. I realized that picking my blemishes was doing more harm than good, I realized that my cleanser was actually not agreeing with my skin and I found out which foods would cause my skin to glow and that which caused it to be inflamed.
My skin has been GREAT for the past 4 years now if I do say so myself. Where I currently work we have vanity mirrors with even cruder light than my parent’s window. I look at myself with complete acceptance and love now, even when I get the odd blemish or two. This is what I believe true beauty is; the ability to be vulnerable and accept yourself for who you are flaws and all.
The message I want to get out there is I learnt to accept myself before I had good skin. Yes, I did work hard and learn a lot of self-discipline to achieve the results I did, but simply having good skin doesn’t automatically give you confidence. I can attest after working my whole working-life in luxury cosmetics that all women (and men) have the ability to feel self-conscious and dissatisfied with how they look, regardless of how they actually look.
We grow up in a world that loves comparison. The truth is there will always be someone who is doing ‘better’ than you, and someone doing ‘worse’. Instead of wasting your energy and time looking to other’s for validation, we should try to compare our success and merits to our own standards.
Be kind to others so that you can be kind to yourself, show compassion to others so that we may be compassionate with ourselves, give love, acceptance and confidence freely to ourselves so that, one day, we may instill it in those around us. It is in this way that we can truly look and feel beautiful.
What a pleasure to feature Jason’s voice in this series and happy to include his essay in the collection of stories for the book. Jason is the founder of skynside , a new holistic lifestyle blog.