If you say how lovely she is, or how beautiful her art is, or complement anything else her soul took part in, inspired, or suffused, something in her mind says she is undeserving and you, the complimentor, are an idiot for thinking such a thing to begin with…So that is the final work of the exile who finds her own: to not only accept one’s own individuality, one’s specific identity as a certain kind of person, but also to accept one’s beauty…the shape of one’s soul and the fact that living close to that wild creature transforms us and all that it touches.” –Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D
As a female I know I have often refuted people who have called me beautiful. I have negated the blessing of their compliment and instead, replaced their compliment with 12 or more self-criticisms. Having been a very self aware child and continuing to be so into adulthood I find that it is easier to pick out my flaws than it is to embrace my strengths. Now as I transition into my age, I find that people are not sure how to deal with a female who says “thank you” for being called beautiful or talented instead of the fake humility and self-deprecation that often follows.
I’m trying to figure out at what point women are taught to apologize for their beauty? When did it happen to me? My mother always taught me to say ‘thank you‘ when I was complimented by someone. Yet, at some point I must have learned to be ashamed of it. Where did humility stop and self-humiliation set in? Where did I learn this internal dialog?
I couldn’t tell you, but I’m certainly over it.
Lately I’ve been posting a lot of makeup looks on my Instagram, and in doing so I discover how much I really enjoy making myself into other versions of myself. No less who I am, but perhaps myself in a different mood or light. More playful. More sad. Taking it to more dramatic extremes.
I am learning to embrace my beauty. I am channeling it more creatively and learning how to redefine it nearly everyday. I get to choose what kind of self to show to others and not just with my moods or emotions, but with artistry.
Not that makeup is required for me to feel beautiful. It is merely a colorful extension of my artistry. I can morph my face into nearly any type of being. Ethereal or mortal, I can rearrange the bones of my cheeks, the tones of my skin, the shape of my lips to whatever softness or hardness I choose. I am master of my my image.
Still, when did beauty become such a beast that it became rude to be beautiful? Since when was beauty more acceptable in the eye of the beholder instead of the beheld? Why is it wrong of a woman to believe that she is beautiful and acknowledge it? What harm does it do?
For the women themselves? None. It does no woman any harm to have self love and respect. What harm does it do others?
Quite a bit actually.
If women started loving themselves and realizing how beautiful they truly are, they would probably stop buying cosmetics. They would stop paying outrageous prices for clothing. They would not feel a need to shave and therefore, economies would crumble. Women who love themselves are powerful, and though they need not another thing to make themselves beautiful, they would allow themselves their wants on occasion, but not to the scale that society and lobbyists would. Not to the extent that companies would need them to in order to thrive. If women started loving themselves, empires would crumble.
Which is why women were taught not to love themselves.