If what you see in the mirror is ugly, then consider this: chances are you’re comparing your own unique beauty to what, for your entire life, you’ve been programmed to believe is beautiful.
And what is beauty anyways?
Margaret Wolfe Hungerford said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
And isn’t that true? Yes or no, in more instances than not beauty is subjective. In fact, I’d go even further to say that beauty manifests itself in infinite ways other than what the eye can see.
As a photographer with a fond admiration for women and men alike I can honestly say that I have taken countless photographs and manipulated them to appeal to the mass collective of what is to be considered quote on quote “beautiful.”
Hypocrite. No, I think not. I never claimed they were beautiful but simply did my job in a way that my superior agreed was aesthetically pleasing.
A wrinkle here, a crows foot there, deleted.
Nobody has ever died from a portrayal of beauty, right?
Wrong. Though I’m not an extremist so there are many factors to consider, all of which yes, I agree, may seem like a bit of a cop out or excuse not to hold oneself accountable for taking what is and transforming it into something less natural.
But this isn’t about my career choice or eye in which I behold.
This is about you and that “ugly” reflection in the mirror.
You are not ugly, you simply aren’t. You are you, and you are beautiful.
Those who claim to seek perfection, well, they’re only trying to fill a void. And it’s a bottomless pit because like beauty, perfection is ultimately subjective.
While I sit here and delve deeper into thought, I watch a mother and daughter walk by my window. The mother is flapping her arms as graceful as she can. The child looks to her mother and understands she is trying her best.
In the end all that we can do is try our best to love ourselves enough to fully accept the unique beauty of another.
Any other judgement is of which we have been programmed to believe.
It’s taken a very long while to believe in myself and I willingly admit that each day is a slow progression to further acceptance of my own unique beauty.
If someone tells you you’re not beautiful, that’s their loss.
And I hope the next mirror that you face looks back in your direction as the child looks with grace and marvels at the perfection of her mother’s love.
Have you ever noticed that the thing you are most excited to share with another person, be it a new book, movie, podcast, idea, or what you think happens to be something to be considered “the greatest,” that their excitement never quite matches your own?
Of course you have. We’re all human.
And have you ever noticed that upon showcasing this thought or idea to another that when you do, their reaction never quite lives up to your expectation, which leaves you feeling either hurt or discouraged?
I will not take it upon myself to assume that you have though I will tell you this: I have.
And it’s a very tough thing to understand.
In the moment of realization that your appreciation for something you deem extraordinary hasn’t been deeply felt in the same way by another can often cause conflict, misunderstanding, and judgement—that is reactionary rather than honest.
Instead of expressing our pain for what seems a lack of appreciation in the moment, we often turn to criticism, which is in itself a form of false pride.
Rather than saying, “I’m confused as to why you don’t feel the way I do about what I’m showing you,” one says, “well, of course you don’t get it,” or more often than not, we say nothing, letting our emotions fester to distress and shame.
In the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes: “It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil, it’s what comes out of their mouths that is.”
Well if that’s not the boldest yet truest statement to have ever been penned than I implore you to enlighten me as I’ve found myself in this predicament more times than I am willing to admit.
My point is, we can’t expect another’s reaction to mirror our own.
We shouldn’t expect them to for the simple fact that they are their own person, with their own background, beliefs, and experiences that before judgement deserve appreciation and due time to process and articulate what is being presented.
What took the time to find, understand, and appreciate should also be granted—the time—to another.
It’s like telling someone rather than suggesting someone read a book.
Your willingness to share does not determine one’s willingness to receive.
It’s like giving someone the answer without allowing them to solve the equation.
The ability to discover is a gift in itself and it’s that same gift of discovery that makes our individual perception unique.
So the next time you offer someone a gift, regardless of their reaction, remember who you’re sharing it with and why you chose them to share it with you all over again.
I think then you will find an even deeper appreciation for yourself and another.