What image comes to your mind when you see this word? Do you see a model? How about a sunset? A work of art maybe? For most of us when the word beautiful is mentioned, the last image we picture is ourselves. Whether it be due to modesty, social acceptance or truly not believing it, we constantly shy away from describing ourselves as beautiful. We have been conditioned to believe that beauty has a specific set of guidelines that must be followed, with the number one guideline being how you look. Unfortunately, we have lost sight of the many other things that are part of being beautiful.
I worked in a salon/spa for years. My days were filled with the best products to make us look younger, better, fresher, and flawless. If there wasn’t a product to do it, then there was makeup to cover up those flaws that the mirror constantly reminded us of. There were constantly new hair colors or cuts, and nails were always done to perfection. The concept of “beauty” became my whole life. I would walk out of my apartment 5-6 days a week with full makeup, hair done and nails painted ready to take on the day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I loved getting to experiment with different makeup types and hairstyles and crazy polish colors. I loved looking in the mirror and thinking, “yep, nailed it.” However, it became something that I couldn’t get away from. I was never without my makeup, and worried that any time anyone looked at me they were only looking at the flaws that I had. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, but the confidence that I had always had in my appearance was almost gone. Instead an insecurity with what I looked like and what I considered beautiful set in. Though I was promoting wellness and beauty, I lost what that meant within myself. The reason behind this insecurity came from the fact that I was only focusing on what I looked like, only what the mirror showed me, rather than focusing on what being beautiful actually means.
I watched a truly inspiring and thought provoking speech recently by Lupita Nyong’o. She spoke at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards after winning the Breakthrough Performance Award. In her acceptance speech she spoke specifically on black beauty. I was absolutely inspired by her words on how we view beauty and the mindset change that we must go through to truly understand being beautiful. She describes her own struggle with her appearance and her skin color, wishing for years that she could be a bit lighter. Regardless of race, gender, social status, there is something that all of us struggle with when it comes to our appearance. If we are not careful, as Lupita describes, it will become something bigger than ourselves, something we yearn for, it becomes “the seduction of inadequacy.” Our inadequacies, our flaws, become something that we define ourselves by, they become a mask that we hide behind. Rather than addressing our insecurities and embracing how different we are from everyone else, we use it as an excuse and shield in an attempt to protect ourselves.
Instead of focusing on our inadequacy, we must focus on the things in life that are fundamentally beautiful. As Lupita describes, “what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you.” When you really think about it, those who are truly compassionate radiate beauty, regardless of what they actually look like. This beauty comes from deep within and is a beauty that, “enflames the heart and enchants the soul.” This kind of beauty is much more than skin deep. It is the kind of beauty that we all hope for in the world. It is the kind of beauty that awakes us from the stronghold that our inadequacies have on us.
In our society today we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make ourselves look more like someone else. To make ourselves look like someone who we think is much more beautiful than we are. However, as much as we change what we look like, until we realize that our true beauty comes from our compassion, kindness, and character, we will forever be searching for something that products and surgeries can’t provide.
I continue to enjoy using quality beauty products and experimenting with new makeup, however, I am now focusing more of my time on the more important aspect of beauty. My looks will always be changing, but my compassion for others and overall character will always stay the same. I am accepting my flaws and focusing on being a person who can be considered beautiful by more than just my physical appearance. As Lupita ended her speech, her hope was, “that you will feel the validation of external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful on the inside.” A truly inspiring and beautiful speech by a beautiful woman inside and out.
What comes to mind now when you see this word? Hopefully, you see yourself and the people in your life whose character is based upon being compassionate and kind rather than just their outward appearance. Go BE beautiful.
Watch Lupita’s Speech: