Here at Adventures, we have a policy that says we can never ask others to do what we are not willing to do ourselves. So when the team conceived a campaign to inspire more self love and celebrate beauty, I was all on board. In theory.
The messaging was direct and the instructions were simple:
What makes you beautiful?
Cast aside the beauty standards society has taught you and really look at yourself. Appreciate yourself, and your body, and how far it has come with you.
We then added the following visual prompt and invited people to tag us with their reactions. The results were…underwhelming. Like, so bad. If archeologists could identify the subterranean level that exists beneath the whelm of under, that’s where the results of this intended feel-good challenge would be. We sat back and waited…and waited…and then left the group chat altogether.
I am sincere when I say that this announcement is not meant as shade to our beloved audience. As the only person who participated in the challenge, I admit that I struggled to complete the task. Identifying one thing – one physical attribute, specifically – that made me beautiful proved damn near impossible. As women we’re often advised not to lead with our physical beauty because of numerous accusations and nonsensical reasons including, but not limited to:
You only got this job/opportunity because you’re pretty
You should be humble
You will make other women jealous
…when in fact we now know that beauty doesn’t “fade” at all, it changes; women have proven their aptitude despite their physical appearance for decades; humble has nevah ‘epped anyone; and women are truly rarely jealous of other women. We look to each other (for the most part) for inspiration. Still, fucked up lifelong messaging is difficult to unfuck. So I committed to the challenge, sitting down to it with the enthusiasm of someone being treated to a bowl of toenail soup. And what did I come up with?
My thighs make me beautiful, I typed with the enthusiasm of a U-Save cashier.
My thighs. And yes, while my thighs are quite delightful, they are not the part of my body that I take the most pleasure in or even showcase to the wider world. Generally, they are either safely contained in a pair of jeans on tucked under a faithful shirt dress. Meantime, I love my boobs and I finally have locs that trail down my back. Additionally, I think I have a pretty interesting face – but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to declare that any of these made me beautiful. And I know why: It would be an exercise in vulnerability.
At the beginning of the year, I listed my one sex and relationship goal as wanting to be more vulnerable. While I’m happy to report that I have committed to lowering my shields, I am equally sad to report that it’s caused me pain. After all, one can’t be vulnerable in a vacuum, and the other person(s) in the equation did not reciprocate with care. That’s another story for another day. Today, this is about Self Doubt, that basic bitch who lives in my head – and many women’s heads – who had enough power to stop 2012 followers from listing one thing that made them feel beautiful.
So I want to invite everyone, here and now, to try it again on this Monday morning. What makes you feel beautiful? Because. You. Are. Beautiful. This time, I’m going to be brave enough to admit that I love my face. It’s my grandmother’s face. She had the most gorgeous face. Tell me about your beauty in the comments. 🙂