Nothing fits. Your hair won’t lay the way you want it to. You have a zit. You don’t feel beautiful.
It’s not your clothes or hair that’s the problem, though. After studying beauty for the past decade, I have observed three primary reasons we don’t feel beautiful. Here’s how to get your best self back in the driver’s seat.
1. WE CANNOT SEE OURSELVES.
Our eyes are designed to see the world outside of ourselves. The only time we “see” ourselves is as a reflection in water, a mirror, photograph or video. None of these are truly representative of how we look to other people.
First of all, reflections – like what you see in your mirror — require light to bounce off a surface in order for the image to be visible. Flat surfaces like mirrors reflect light without distorting the image whereas a pond or lake diffuses light and garbles the image. However, a reflection on a flat surface is like looking at something with only one eye — it lacks depth and proportionality. Humans have two eyes approximately 2.5” apart, allowing us to observe a scene from two different view points – stereovision. To-date, camera technology can’t capture the angles, depth, convergence, shadows, and 3-D motion of real life. As a result, we simply see ourselves as a reflection of what is actually there.
Others see us in proportion to our surroundings – where we are standing or sitting, the depth of the space behind us, the colors bouncing around us, the other people next to us, etc. All of these things give meaning and context to how we look. However, when we see our reflection on a flat surface, it is a small part of the whole … usually from our waist up or the occasional backside view from looking over our shoulder or in a 3-way mirror. It is like using the zoom feature on our smart phones to examine a small detail about something. No one else zooms in on us to study every pore and detail in our face like we do.
Because we cannot see ourselves, we are left with how we feel about ourselves in our reflection more than how we actually look. Which brings us to #2…
2. WE DO UNDERSTAND WHAT MAKES US BEAUTIFUL.
Our social myths tell us that beauty is a physical expression of who we are. The ancient Greeks used mathematics.
The ancient Greeks used mathematics to give meaning and value to form and function as a way of understanding the infinite and the invisible. This theory of beauty proposed that harmony in life existed in proportion, which could be measured and applied to all artistic endeavors – music, painting, architecture and the human body. A Roman architect named Vitruvius used the human figure as the principle source of proportion for buildings, citing that the measurement of man was designed by nature and therefore accurate. Many years later, Leonardo Da Vinci expanded on Vitruvius measurements to express the symmetry of the human body and by extension the universe as a whole. He called his painting The Vitruvian Man. Da Vinci believed the workings of the human body was an analogy of the workings of the universe. Thus begins our social evolution of beauty as a measured ratio and the quest for balanced perfection.
However, the real goal in being beautiful is to attract other people, not to have perfect proportion.
Have you ever met someone that fit all the social definitions of beauty – height/weight proportionate, clear skin, shiny hair, thin / no cellulite, great clothes – yet your experience of them was anything but beautiful? Why?
If you are like the thousands of people who have participated in one of our workshops, your answers would be something like … liar, arrogant, insecure, judgmental, bossy, mean, etc. None of which have anything to do with how they look, but rather everything to do with how they behave. There are actually seven behaviors we find beautiful in someone – I call them The 7 Behaviors of Beauty.™ When you know what they are, you can create beauty for yourself and others.
3. WE CAN’T ESCAPE THE MYTHS.
Everywhere around us, even in our own bathroom mirror, we are met with judgment about how we look.
Images of what beauty is supposed to be are such an integral part of our social fabric that we do not even recognize it as something separate from us – we are simply part of it. We are exposed to over 2,000 ads everyday with virtually all of them promoting values, concepts of self-worth, lifestyles and standards of beauty telling us what we are supposed to want. While we might recognize intellectually that these images are artificial and represent a narrow scope of who we are, we cannot escape the constant message that how things look is more important than how things are.
If we do not know who we are beyond the physical expression of ourselves, we are at risk of losing our identity in the onslaught of social messaging. What makes you special? What do you do that no one else can? What moves your soul? These are the central questions that lead us to a life of love, beauty and purpose. Explore them with us in The Significance Sessions.
photo credit: projectosejafeliz.com/desprezo