The only way to feel truly beautiful is to look within before looking in the mirror.
“She is beautiful…” The boy I love just told me that he loves another; his reason is that she is something I am not-beautiful. I’m smart and witty, silly and fun, but I am not particularly beautiful. Melissa was a beauty; long curls flowing past her shoulders, big blue eyes with fluttering lashes. I looked plain; a “bowl-cut” on my head that was somehow always crooked, freckles plastering my face, and orthopedic shoes to cap off the look. It was the 70’s and I was just a child, but I was in love and he did not want me. Can you imagine my pain? 1st grade was a big year for me. I learned some of the toughest lessons of my life, the first being that physical beauty matters and I did not have it.
I was beautiful on the inside. I am a bright light and this was always evident. I knew that my soul was beautiful; my mistake was in thinking this was enough. By 5th grade I had accepted that I would never win any beauty contests and made peace with my place in life. Boys loved me, just not in the way they did the beautiful girls. They loved me for me-definitely not for my looks. The boys would spend hours with me, laughing and playing, but they never looked at me the way they did the pretty girls. I understood early on that I’d need to rely on my wits if I were to be appealing to the opposite sex.
Luckily, what I lacked in looks, I made up for in personality. My humor and zest for life drew people to me and eventually, in my teens, the boys came calling too. Since I’d resigned myself to being “the ugly girl” I was shocked. I found myself in no way desirable to a boy and this sudden turn of the tides confused me. This was to be the start of a long and bumpy journey.
Freckles faded, the nineties brought with it better hairstyles and the eyes that were somehow daunting as a child suddenly fit my face. I grew into myself, transforming from an ugly duckling to swan. Peoples perceptions of me changed, but my own did not. To me I was flawed, imperfect and even ghastly at times. I knew my insides were beautiful, but on the outside I felt gross. The more I worried about my appearance, the less like me I felt. I hated myself with venom-at least on the outside.
My inability to honestly access myself and find the positives was clinical; I was diagnosed with a severe case of “Dysmorphic Disorder”. I was obsessed with my flaws-both real and imagined. No one could convince me I was attractive or worthy. I got paid to model, but this only made me feel worse. With my “flower in full bloom” I focused on my thorns. No matter how good my own was I only saw that others had something better; better hair, skin, eyes, teeth, legs, lips, and so on. When the focus was on my outward appearance I was never enough.
Though I loathed my body I loved the fact that men desired it. While I had no connection to my body, I began using it to get what I want. I wanted love. I got sex. In my mind this was close enough to the real thing so I settled. My standards were so low that I settled for crumbs. If any love existed it was only for parts of me, never the whole.
My twenties were filled with the adoration of men, yet few saw through my façade, nor knew the real me. I became the sum total of my parts; I was now a pretty face and a hot bod. I got lots of attention then, but very little love. The more I searched for myself in a man the greater was my loss. My self loathing combined with pathetically low self esteem made me like a puppy; I begged for love. I was happy for any attention back then.
Today at thirty-five I am single by choice and having the greatest love affair of my life. A few years back I decided to fall in love with me. “You must love yourself first before another can love you” I now understand what it means. Today it does not matter what I look like, or what any guy thinks about it, because I know I am so much more than a body and its parts. Once again I am living from my soul. I shine from within and this makes me beautiful. I can laugh and dance and play. Freedom is beautiful.
Papierdoll staff writer Krista-Lynn Landolfi is a Professional Life Coach and Spiritual Counselor. She teaches seminars nationwide and is available for private consultation; inquire for details; Krista-Lynn@Krista-Lynn.com