Do you recognise your own beauty? I didn’t…

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Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror...

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

When you see photographs of yourself, what do you notice?

Do you see yourself as you are?

Or do you see what you believe is there?

The reason that I’m asking this is that for many many years I didn’t see what was there.

I saw what I thought was there.

You see, when I was much younger I got some very fixed ideas about my appearance.

At school I wasn’t one of the popular girls.  I didn’t get into makeup and hair very early on, and I certainly wasn’t obsessed with it as some of the people I went to school with were (the curse of an all-girls school I guess!)

I wasn’t one of the ‘popular crowd’, I wasn’t one of the girls that the boys were interested in or asked out…in fact I don’t think that many of them even noticed me.

Combine these facts with my grandmother’s insistence on describing one of my closest friends as ‘Claire’s Pretty Friend’ (…as opposed to…?) and my perception of my own personal appearance wasn’t very high.

…and, being perfectly honest, this perception stuck with me for a long time.

Even when boyfriends described me as ‘beautiful’ or ‘gorgeous’ I would often rationalise it by thinking that they were the exception to the rule, that they were talking about who I was on the inside or that they were saying that because ‘that’s what boyfriends are supposed to say’!

I spent years battling to be ‘skinnier’ than I was, trying diet after diet….I even tried the awful atkins and slimfast options at various points..  One word…yuk.

Taking on my ‘one of the boys’ mentality meant that I hid my body behind jeans and baggy jumpers for the most part.  I remember one ex boyfriend even commenting how surprised he was the first time he saw me in a dress…not just because I was wearing a dress, but he couldn’t believe how slim I was because he assumed my baggy tops were covering more weight than they were.

Over time I became more comfortable with how I looked, but I never saw myself as particularly attractive, and I certainly wouldn’t have used the word ‘beautiful’ to describe myself.

Over the last few years though, something shifted.

I started noticing some of the comments I was receiving…and how many positive remarks I was getting about my appearance.

Tweet from NelsonA random tweet from a friend I’d not seen in years introducing me to his followers as “One of the most beautiful woman I have ever met” really surprised me.

I have received so many lovely and humbling comments about photos that I’ve shared on Facebook and videos that I’ve shared…it got to the point that I couldn’t ignore what was being said to me anymore.

One day I realised that I wasn’t seeing myself as I was, or how anyone else was seeing me.  I was seeing myself as the plain, unpopular teenager who didn’t feel pretty next to her attractive friends.

…and I wasn’t the only one.

The mirror liesSo many women see something different to what’s really there.

Several years ago one of my favourite TV shows was called “How to look good naked”.  In it, the fabulous Gok Wan would take women who hated their bodies through a process to reconnect them with the beauty of their gorgeous real figures.

Part of the process was the “Gok Shock”, displaying images of their body somewhere agonisingly public and have people from the street comment on what they could see.

This video of the lovely Angela shows how drastically different a person’s perception of themselves can be from what other people see…she even manages to pick up a date along the way!

Another part of the process was to get the lady in question to do a line up with other women, looking at a particular area of her body that she disliked.  Gok would line up the other women from smallest to largest (of the body part in question) and then get her to position herself at the point in the line where she believed that she belonged.

Every time without exception the women would place themselves in the wrong place…always seeing themselves as larger than they actually were.  This video of the lovely Cindy shows that her perception of her tummy meant that she was walking around with an extra 2.5” of imagined weight on her waistline.

It’s no wonder with the bombardment of ‘perfect’ women in the media that we question our own appearance at times, but we need to see it for what it is…an illusion.  Almost every image we see is doctored, tweaked…or changed completely…it’s not real.

After all, in real life each and every one of us is perfectly imperfect…and that’s beautiful.

Love your reflectionSo I would like to invite you to take a good look in the mirror today, to release any past perceptions that you might have had…and to see yourself for the beautiful woman that you are.

Because it’s about time that we all recognise our own beauty…and start to celebrate it!

So smile, find three things that you love about your appearance and say them out loud….you deserve the compliments! 🙂

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

15 replies
  1. Naini
    Naini says:

    This is how I still feel. I hate my pics. When I look in the mirror I see someone I like but when I see my pics I think but cameras don’t lie. And I still feel plain and unattractive and my serious face doesn’t help the situation. Yep its not easy sharing this personal stuff either.

    Reply
      • Nalini
        Nalini says:

        I will certainly do the challenge. I just attended Life Mastery and we had to do an exercise to appreciate our body. It is unbelievable how much I was disconnected from my own body and how much I had to thank it for, cause obviously it had done so much for me not least of which was giving me my 2 kids. I am more into appreciating and honoring my body now with being healthy. (But I still need to get past the camera thing. I have no problem with the mirror)

        Reply
        • Claire
          Claire says:

          Thanks so much for sharing Nalini, it’s so lovely to hear that you’re focusing on appreciating and honouring your body…something we should all do a lot more! Xx

          Reply
  2. maria
    maria says:

    I have seen this on many of my friends from a young age. When I was younger I’d practise my photography on friends and family. Often my friends would object to how they looked, they’d see flaws and imperfections… It’s an eye opener looking again at those pictures 20 years later, as we see ourselves much more objectively, appreciating how beautiful and young we used to look.

    Reply
  3. Heidi Sloss
    Heidi Sloss says:

    Wow what a powerful piece. I cried watching the last video. This past 1 1/2 years I lost 55 lbs, but still see parts of my body as unattractive. What a great TV show idea! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Thank you Heidi for sharing your thoughts…and congratulations on your achievement, that’s amazing! I hope that you can look in the mirror and see your beauty…much love xx

      Reply
  4. Lorraine Burwood
    Lorraine Burwood says:

    Hi Claire

    Thank you for your honest revealing blog. I have just celebrated my 60th birthday and I put together a photo album of pictures of me from birth to present day and what I realised is that I have wasted years believing myself to be ugly when the photos show a cute baby growing into a pretty teenager and beautiful women. I believed myself to be fat when in fact I had a great body. I just sad it has taken me so long to get to this point and your blog is very timely. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      You’re very welcome Lorraine…I love that you’re able to look back and see your beauty now. If you could say one thing to yourself, back then, what would it be? xx

      Reply
  5. Laura Wilkes
    Laura Wilkes says:

    Hi Claire,
    Until very recently I felt the same way as you, but a series of events and people I have met have revealed to me that I am attractive to all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons and, more importantly, that it’s perfectly ok for me to acknowledge that about myself. This has crystallised for me recently with my growing interest in Buddhism, which teaches me to look after my body but not to dwell on it becaise it is, after all, impermanent. I don’t say this to emphasise our mortality, but just to encourage others to see the futility of placing too much value on outward appearances, it is our actions and the way we choose to live our lives that makes us beautiful to others and to ourself. Since I’ve realised that I’ve also realised that I am beautiful, as are we all xxxxx

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Laura, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful perspective on this subject…I couldn’t agree more with you and I love how eloquently you’ve explained your thoughts. I hope that some of the other ladies who read this blog gain inspiration from what you’ve said. Much love xx

      Reply
  6. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    I have felt horrible about how I look since I was 15! When I was very slender in high school and I was pretty happy with how I looked too. No, not conceited, just happy. Then the boys started noticing and commenting on my boobs and how nice they were and it was a constant antagonizing for me. I was a very sheltered girl outside of school. This went on for years and somehow I used a little weight gain here and there to feel secure. Finally, no one would be picking on me about my boob size. Long story short, I’m 52 now, still very heavy, learning still, to love who I am and I’m getting ready to start training for a Triathlon!!

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Wow, how inspiring that you’re training for a triathlon! Please keep us posted with your progress, I’d love to hear more about your journey! x

      Reply

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