Today I caught myself thinking, “I wish I was beautiful.”
But then I did something I would never have done in the past. I caught the thought and held it and looked at it, and then I sat down with myself.
“I am sorry,” I said, “for all the times I let you think that and didn’t object. I am sorry for all the times I allowed this thought, these words, to roll like a movie reel in your mind. That’s my bad.
“And I need to tell you the truth today, because this thought won’t go away. It’s a fact of life today, with all the movies and TV ads and magazines, blah blah blah. You’ve heard this before, but never from me. This thought will come again, and again, and again, and it will continue to assault you when you’re not feeling 100% – or even when you are.
“So I need to tell you the truth. ‘Beauty’ is totally skewed. They way you think of beauty is wrong. It’s defined by the world, and yeah, the world can be pretty convincing, but you have to have the real definition of beauty lodged in your mind. It doesn’t matter what you think guys are thinking when they see you. It doesn’t matter what you think girls are thinking. What matters is that you know, to the core of your being, that you’re beautiful.
“You’ve heard this before, but not from me. Beauty isn’t perfectly plucked eyebrows or long, shiny hair, or even the color of your eyes. Beauty isn’t tall or short or skinny or fat (or in between) or long fingers or short fingers. Yeah, that’s right, I’m telling you what you’ve heard from other people, but haven’t heard from me. Because there’s always the possibility that other people are being insincere, but I’m not. I’m you. I can’t be insincere with you. Duh, you’d know. So now you’re hearing it from me: beauty isn’t any of those things.
“This is what beauty is. Beauty is the innocence it takes to show the world who you really are. Beauty is you coming through your skin, your eyes, your mouth, your hair. Beauty is when you respect yourself and love yourself and then that love overflows to the people around you. Beauty is you embracing you and not restricting or constraining yourself anymore. Beauty is the opposite of fear, and fear can’t handle beauty because it’s so steadfast and so strong and so solid and immovable. Beauty is when you begin to realize the truth: that you, with all of your “flaws” (i.e. things the fashion people photoshop out of pictures to make you feel inferior) are unique, individual, human, striking, lovely.
“And I’m going to show you tough love. I’m not going to let you get away with thinking ever again ‘I wish I was beautiful.’ I’m not going to let you get away with thinking ‘I wish I looked like that’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘no one will be able to love me.’ Every time you think that, whether it’s in the middle of a lecture, or in traffic, or at home at night in your bed, I will stop everything and sit down with you and tell you that the definition of the beauty you’re thinking of is the wrong one. And that you are beautiful, and that you don’t have to think these things ever again.”
And then I hugged myself, and the only regret I had is that I didn’t have this talk with me a long, long time ago.