The Paradox of Form: And how to deal with it
“She can run a company, she can be a UN humanitarian, she can be an artist, she can be a mom, but the one thing we’ll admire her for the most is her looks and her sex appeal. Being desirable is the one nonnegotiable of today’s ideal woman,” writes Anuschka Rees in Beyond Beautiful. I am sure you can relate. No matter what your job is, you feel pressure to look good while doing it. What if you transcended this? What if you truly went beyond beautiful and loved your body and face as is without an ounce of wanting to change or fix it? I reached this state. I really did, I had a hiccup but I came back to it.
Let me back-up a bit and let you know that I used to have low to no self-esteem. I am a former binge eater, a cutter and a self-hater. I have always looked at my appearance as something to fix or change. Since the age of twelve, I have been dieting, dying my hair, exercising and experimenting with different clothes and make-up. I am what Rees refers to in her book as a chaser, I was always chasing beauty. I never felt I was enough as is, always something to be fixed.
But then something happened. I was on a real spiritual quest when I hit a low point or a dark night of my soul. I lost family, my job and my health all in one month. I had a choice in this moment to move forward anew or to sink deeper. I moved forward. I truly released most of my ego (the little not-so-nice-judgey voice), I was present in my life and I felt true joy. I was leading a truly mindful life. In this moment, I decided that I would take all of this change as an opportunity to create a blog and share with others how to lead a more mindful life.
Once I started the blog, I realized that I was the face of my business. I would need videos and photos so an audience could connect with me. I needed an Instagram. I need a business Facebook page. All of these things required photos of me. Suddenly, what I had transcended came back. I found myself scrutinizing photos, “fixing” them and making sure my hair and make-up looked perfect before making a vlog. But I felt torn. I still loved myself. I loved my body and face, flaws and all. I even let my little grey streak in my hair shine on. I was doing yoga every day instead of the intense cardio I hated. I was wearing clothes that were comfortable and pleasant to me without being concerned about what others would think. I was a better mom and wife because I was so happy in my own skin.
This feeling of being torn is the paradox of form all women face. On one side, we know that our worth is our heart, soul and mind, but on the other hand, we feel immense pressure to look our best. This is the crossroads I faced. I could give in and spiral back into a place of “looking good” but really hating myself and never feeling good enough or continue to lead my new mindful life. I chose mindful. So how did I release myself from what I call beauty samsara or the cycle of beauty suffering? I stayed present.
Really, that is all it takes but it’s not easy. Most of our beauty related suffering has to do reliving the past and worrying about the future. “I will be happier when I lose these ten pounds.” “I cannot believe I got tagged in that photo where you can clearly see that zit on my face.” We are suffering over what people may have said about us in the past or suffering about what we think someone may say to us in the future. I recently learned a great mantra: “It is none of my business what others think of me.” Really though, it’s none of your business what others say or think. Your joy is internal not external. So what if when you decide to upload a photo on social media we decide in this present moment, do I like this enough to share? Then let it go. If you receive likes or comments know that those are on version of you in the past, it is not your now. What if you choose an outfit because you feel good in it, not because someone in the near future may like the way you look in it?
I know my advice sounds simple but mindfulness is simple. If we practice being present as much as possible we will be happier. The next time you hit a tailspin of self-hate talk, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are not that voice that is hateful. In this present moment, the only thing making you feel ugly is that voice. Let that voice go.