“I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may—light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful.” ~John Constable
It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, always referring to one person seeing beauty in another. I contend, however, that beauty is a state of mind—your state of mind. If you are beautiful in your own eyes, you remain beautiful whether others recognize it or not; but you first have to settle it in your mind that you are beautiful.
In September 2010, Oprah interviewed some of the most glamorous women to ever grace television screens: Teri Hatcher, Cybill Shepherd and Linda Evans. Cybill talked about how her beauty had brought her fame, and how aging had caused her to wrestle with having allowed society’s definition of beauty to dictate her worth and identity.
Linda’s natural hair color had been dishwater blond, but when the studios changed it to platinum, people suddenly thought she looked more beautiful and she got more attention. However, she never lost sight of herself because she knew where her true value lay.
Teri talked about the debate she had sparked by posting pictures of herself on Facebook without makeup. That was the real Teri, not the one fronted on the Desperate Housewives show or the airbrushed one on magazine covers. She wanted people to know and love the real Teri. She feels her most beautiful when she’s most healthy: “…eating right, exercising, lifting weights and also sleeping well, experiencing joy, seeing friends, camping, hiking, laughing… It is certainly not based on a scale or a dress size.”
As I listened to Cybill admit that there were times when she didn’t feel beautiful enough even at the height of her career, a light came on for me. I remembered all the times people I didn’t even know had randomly come up to me—especially on days when I wasn’t feeling beautiful—and said, “You’re really beautiful!” I realized that picture I’d had in my mind of what a beautiful me looked like was different from what I saw in the mirror and what these random strangers saw when they looked at me. My state of mind made it difficult for me to see and appreciate my beauty.
That day, I decided to change the picture in my mind. I decided that the woman in the mirror is always beautiful and I would say it to her over and over again until it became her state of mind. It’s worked. I still have days when I don’t feel beautiful, but I never forget that I am beautiful.
Do take good care of yourself and try to look your best, but remember that beauty is primarily in your mind. So get yourself into a beauty state of mind by taking a piece of advice from Linda Evans: “Every woman should strive to love what she sees in the mirror.”
*Written for Monica Chang Blog