An illustration of a woman looking down

As I slip on my shoes for the gym, I hear a woman on one of my favorite podcasts remark, “We are all still asking.” I pause to let that sink in before I hop on the treadmill.

Asking what?

We are asking, “Am I beautiful?” 

How can all women be asking the same question? Is she overstating? When I let the question find its way to my soul, I realize it is true. I still ask.

 How can all women be asking the same question?

I believe in women telling each other we are beautiful. Men can add validation to the conversation if they are loving, not objectifying.

How do we align with the settled fact of our beauty, without cheapening it or using it as a weapon? Our bodies hold much in the way we have allowed this question to harm us. I suggest we exchange harm for advocacy.

Maybe the answer isn’t in the question but in who we ask it to? What would happen if I turn the question toward myself, instead of an outside source? Can I look myself in the mirror-eye and answer, “Yes, I am beautiful.” If I could, then I wouldn’t have to compete or puff up in response to insecurity. I wouldn’t have self-contempt. I could be just me.

I wouldn’t have to compete or puff up in response to insecurity. I wouldn’t have self-contempt. I could be just me.

My friend, Susan, told me years ago that she wakes up and does the best she can with her clothing, makeup and hair. Then, she walks out the door, confident, not thinking about appearance again. I love that.

She is owning her beauty but not obsessing. She is participating in caring for herself but not letting her appearance have the power to define her. She is inhabiting her beauty.

And of course, beauty is not only about outward appearance. In fact, beauty is a life force, but we let it be seen in the embodiment of our true selves. I have seen many gorgeous women who open their mouths and speak slander toward others, and I no longer even see their outward beauty. On the other side, I have known women who may not strike me as a runway model but show themselves to be stunning because of the energetic beauty they carry. Investment in that energetic life force would carry us much further than a purchase of the best skincare regime.

I dare you to ask yourself, “Am I beautiful?” Let the answer come whatever it is. If it is negative, ask yourself “Why?” Consider what needs reassessing, in order to embrace your unique beauty. Where does that life force live in you and how can you nurture it?

I dare you to ask yourself, “Am I beautiful?” 

If it is positive, dance a little. The world needs women to be embodied storehouses of beauty. Beauty nourishes and changes us all, simply by existing.

Image via Scott David Laufer, Darling Issue No. 14

2 comments

  1. The question isn’t ‘Am I beautiful’. The question is why does being beautiful matter so much to women? We aren’t constantly reminding men that they are beautiful. I don’t blame women because women continue to live in a misogynistic world where our value still strongly depends on how we look. BUT the focus and pressure women face to look or feel beautiful promotes this misogyny. We need to stop focusing on “feeling beautiful”. Our self image should not be tied to something as superficial as beauty. Being beautiful is not the value we bring to the world; that is completely reductive. So, as the world attempts to bind us to beauty, let’s be offended and move beyond beauty.

    1. Hi Brit! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We love the perspective Jill brought to this post about beauty being not just about outward appearance. And having the courage to wrestle with this question in order to do some necessary personal health and growth that allows us to love ourselves outside of society’s standard of beauty.

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