Why is it harder to create a list of what we like about ourselves than what we don’t? In our soul, each of us yearns to be special—and beautiful. At some point as children we knew we were. Why is it, then, that most of us as grown-ups don’t believe it?
I knew I was beautiful until I was nine when the first whisper of dissatisfaction with myself crept into my awareness. One particular outfit stands out in my memory. I was young enough to have time to ponder my reflection in the full-length mirror behind my closet door. Dripping wet from the bath, barefoot, with slicked-back hair, I would step into the brand new back-to-school pale pink and white tiny-striped dress with its soft white collar that touched the edge of my shoulder. I would smell the brand new smells that only a new dress can have, and sigh in wonder at the reflection that happened to be me. Throughout the day, holding pretty me in my memory, I would count the days to the time I could wear my dress, knowing that I was just right.
Imagine how disappointed I was when on the long-awaited day—hair dried with curls brushed into a shoulder length halo around my face, bright white new shoes and socks—the reflection in the mirror was not as pretty as I had remembered. I was puzzled. What was the difference? Where did the pretty reflection go? The dress was the same, but something was different. I couldn’t figure out why. There must be something wrong with me. I became aware of myself in a self-conscious rather than self-accepting way. At that age I had no qualms about my body, and yet I began to suspect that I was not a pretty little girl after all.
Reflecting on that pivotal memory years later it came to me that the dress was lovely for me but that the accessories and hair style competed for attention, thereby spoiling the overall effect. My shoulder-length curly hair visually got in the way of the large dress collar—better to have pulled my hair back into a ponytail or pigtail. And the new-white shoes and socks were much too bright compared to the soft white in the dress. Their brightness held one’s attention making it difficult to look up to my face and enjoy the dress. It would have been better if I had chosen to wear soft pink socks, and shoes the brown color of my hair. The dress fit and style were appropriate for my schoolgirl self, but the choice of hairstyle and shoes were out of balance with both the dress and my sweet, rather shy personality.
When did you forget your specialness? When did life change your perceptions? Often our grown-up eyes can’t see the beauty even if others tell us so. It’s as though that deep place in our heart of hearts—the place that knows our gift of being—has a locked door that is waiting to be opened. What happened between your child-knowing joy in being beautiful and the critical thoughts you now have about yourself? It is possible to rediscover the special place in your heart that knows you are beautiful.