Ok, it’s time to get personal. Yesterday’s focus for my 14 Days of Learning to Love You Life series was fun, but today’s is going to be more serious. My mission for today is to inspire you to begin learning to love your looks.
This one is challenging because it begins to really get personal. For some, it can be downright emotional.
I’m going to give you three tips: stop comparing yourself to others, love what makes you unique, and treat your body kindly.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
If you have been anywhere near a screen in your adult life, you’ve been subject to the media telling you what is beautiful. It has been completely toxic at times (any of my 90’s friends remember “Heroin Chic”??) Thankfully, there seems to be a slow and steady movement toward changing our (read: society’s) views on what women should look like.
I’m going to tread lightly on this, because I know that Sports Illustrated announcement that they are featuring a plus size model in their 2015 swimsuit issue has struck a raw nerve with many. And I’m with you. Robyn Lawley is hardly plus size. I mean seriously, if no one had called special attention to her, she would not have stood out to me as being different than the other models. (But, of course, if I’m completely honest, I never would have seen her or the others to even compare.)
But I’m not going to be mad about any of it. Progress is progress. Could we (again, read: society) do better to show that women of all shapes, sizes, and colors are beautiful? Could we do better to embrace and celebrate diversity? Yep, sure could. And we could also take the small victories when they come along.
I’m sure Robyn Lawley being included in the issue will make many women begin to feel better about their size – and that’s something to celebrate.
But I’m going to say it again. Don’t compare yourself to her or the other swimsuit models or any other celebrity. In fact, don’t compare yourself to any other person as a measure of beauty.
Love What Makes You Unique
Do you really want to live in a world where we all look the same? Because when you wish your unique features to be gone, you are really wishing to look just like everyone else. How boring! And how exhausting and how depressing.
Every person has unique features. Even the most classic beauty has features that are unique to her (and they quickly become not-so-unique when said beauty is a super-famous celebrity and everyone begins trying to look just like her).
Think, for just a minute, about some of the most popular female celebrities from today and from the past. Do/did they have distinguishing features? Perhaps a prominent nose, or a gap in their front teeth, or a long thin neck. Or maybe a pear-shaped figure, or thick eyebrows, or a wide smile. Or maybe a waif-like figure, or a full pouty mouth, or a wild mess of curls.
Now take a look in the mirror and figure out what makes you unique.
Start a new page in your journal and write down 5 things you like about your appearance. Then write down at least one distinguishing feature that you want to learn to love. Keep it in your journal, and also write it on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Read it every single day while you are getting ready and before you go to bed.
Treat Your Body Kindly
We all know that we feel better when we make healthy choices. We all know that making healthy choices is what makes look our best too.
I’m not just talking about exercise, while that is certainly very important and, of course, I strongly urge you to do that.
There are choices we make every day that affect our health. Choosing to drink plenty of water, getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, or even the choice to NOT eat junk food.
Other choices may not seem so obvious. Choosing activities that cause stress or deplete your internal resources with little to no reward affect your health and appearance too.
So I’m going to have you think about your choices in two categories.
Physical Fitness and Nutrition
Start another new page in your journal and think about the choices you make in an average day, week, month that are related to physical health and make a list. Some will probably be healthy and others will be no so much. How often do you exercise (be honest!)? How much sleep do you get? What are your eating habits? How much processed food do you eat? Do you drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes? How much caffeine do you drink? How many sugary drinks do you have in a day? How many in a week?
Now think about the choices you make that affect your mental and emotional health. Do you over-commit, volunteering for every committee you are invited to and agreeing to attend every party, fundraiser, and benefit that you learn about? Do you run around to various extra-curricular activities all week long? Running yourself ragged because you want to “do it all” or feel guilty to say no has serious affects on your health!
Now make a list of 3 small changes you want to make in each category. Try to think of things that can be built into your habits, like drinking a glass of water with every meal or having a healthy breakfast (or having breakfast at all!) For the latter category, it might be more challenging to think of habit forming positive changes to make, so you might consider small changes that have lasting effects. For example, you might put a limit on the number of hours you will spend volunteering each week or commit to a certain number of “no plans” nights per week. My husband and I have always said that our kids will be allowed to participate in one activity at a time. We don’t want to be that family that is always running. We want to enjoy each other’s company. Those kids are only small for a very short time.
Keep that list of 6 changes in your journal and also on a sticky note somewhere you’ll see it multiple times every day – like the refrigerator door, you car dashboard, your planner, or the side of your computer screen.
Swapping some of your unhealthy habits for healthier ones will do wonders for your appearance AND you state of mind. I’m willing to bet that just regularly getting a full night’s sleep instead of burning the candle at both ends would put you in a better mood throughout the day and make your face look a little brighter. And that’s just one change.
Finally, start eliminating negativity from your life. Don’t look at magazines that make you feel ugly or fat. Don’t watch TV shows that are all about appearances (yes, that means the reality shows that feature “housewives” who are eternally focused on looks and other superficial nonsense). Don’t engage in self-bashing, even if all your friends are doing it.
DO start thinking and talking positively about yourself (even if it is only to yourself). DO begin to recognize and appreciate the diversity and unique beauty in others. DO start saying no when saying yes is unhealthy. DO start making time for reflection, meditation, and prayer. And DO stick to your commitment to healthy lifestyle choices.