How does a girl grow up and not believe that she is beautiful?


“Do you think I'm pretty?
I think you're beautiful
You are so beautiful, it hurts sometimes.”
― Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy
It took me 40 years to believe that I am a beautiful woman inside-out. Even writing the words makes me shake my head. How does a girl grow up and not know that she is beautiful? In my case, it was simple. It was not said by the two people who were the most important figures in my life - my parents and in particular my mom.

Sometimes I wonder if she was afraid of telling me that I am beautiful for fear of promiscuity or that it would have made me feel too important. I am sure that she never told my sisters that they were beautiful either! Who knows? Today, I wonder whether she thought that she was a beautiful woman or whether her mom ever told her that she was beautiful. One of my life regrets is that I never told her that she was beautiful.

 As a teenager, I listened in on a conversation by an important male. I will never forget his words. "I will never marry a beautiful woman because a beautiful woman is every man's woman." Unknowingly to him, he instantly created a fear in me for being beautiful. Subconsciously, my brain registered: "to be beautiful, means I will be the kind of woman who will be every man's woman!" Looking back, I can see how I subconsciously hid my beauty. I wore baggy clothes. I did not care about going to the hairdresser or getting my nails done or buying clothes that would make me pretty or beautiful. Growing up with three older sisters did not help much because I got most of their used clothing which made me also feel that 'hand downs' were the clothes for me. Even when I had my own money to shop, I never felt deserving of beautiful clothes. Men told me that I was beautiful all the time. Inside of me laughed at them and at myself. Me? Beautiful? I did not believe it. You may find this funny and strange but it is not.

Looking back, I even chose men who would not focus on my beauty and I let go of the ones who genuinely believed I was beautiful because I was so afraid of being beautiful. It is funny what those subconscious messages do to our lives! I look back at some of my photos and think, "She is a beautiful girl." How could I have not felt beautiful? It is sad that during the years when I should have embraced this beautiful girl, were the years I pushed her away as much as I could. When I turned 40, I did a photo-shoot. Believe it or not, it was that year after much work on my self esteem that I looked into the mirror and truly believed that I am a beautiful woman - inside-out. The photographer said to me, "You are naturally good at this. I am enjoying photographing you." That was the day my beauty, self-esteem and self-confidence came all together. It has taken over a decade to subconsciously make that shift.

My message to all of you who are reading this: - It is important for us to verbally affirm  our girls / daughters of how beautiful they are inside-out. - It is important for our boys / men to tell the girls and women in their lives how beautiful they are without making it a sexual overture. It is important for women to tell other women how beautiful they are.

Believing in our beauty inside-out empowers us to step out into the world with self-confidence. It is this level of self-confidence that will help more of our women step out into brilliant careers, become business women and set the world lighting with ideas and innovation - in all of our various forms of beauty.

Self-confidence is the key to success.



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