For most of my life I have felt discomfortable in my own skin. There was always something else which was not okay: My weight, my boobs, my lips, my nose, my hair, my size – if I am honest it is maybe only my little toe which I did not want to change.
Underneath it all was a feeling of shame which affected the way I live in many different ways – how I related to other people, women and men, how I expressed myself, which jobs I took on.
The effects were multi-faceted:
- I was jealous of most women and felt inferior to them which prevented a deeper connecting
- I felt uncomfortable getting close with men, felt not worthy of love and affection which manifested in me not having a partner until I reached my 30s
- I did not follow my passion, because I was too afraid to be seen on stage
- Instead I took on jobs that were not really matching my souls desire
- Summer rather filled my heart with anxiety than pain, because I felt I could not hide my body that well anymore
- and so on and so on….
I felt trapped in feeling ugly, of not being able to live up to the social standards of beauty and akwardly it got worse when I started on the path of healing, because I judged myself for not getting it, even after hours on the yogamat, therapy, the sweat-lodge, meditation workshops and so on.
And it bugged me that such trivial concerns like physical appearance still matter so much.
Why would I still care so much?
Why would these images of slim young influencers still trigger me so much?
Why would I start feeling less worth than women in their 20’s?
Why was there still this belief that in order to ‚get and keep a man‘ I should care about my outer appearance.
Maybe I didn’t do it right…. maybe I just hadn’t reached the long-lasting beyond-body-state of enlightenment yet, maybe I wasn’t feminist enough.
I tried to free myself in many different ways, like entering the hippie-ask realms. But freedom came along with some more do’s and dont’s as any social group tends to conscious or subconsciously agree on their own shoulds which might not be outspoken yet also impact the way we see ourselves. A woman who is truly free should not shave her legs, claim her inner queendom, happily bleed every month and enjoy her body and her sexuality freely and open and ecstaticly.
Being a woman sometimes felt like playing the major role in a ’not being enough‘-movie ….
…. just being here in this body and enjoying it felt out of reach.
Chasing after beauty and youth is like chasing a rainbow with no pot of gold at the end; all the while, we could have been mining our own inner “gold.”
So why do so many of us buy into the image game? Why is cultural conditioning winning over our better judgment and, in an alarming number of cases, costing us our health and sanity?
The beauty myth – An eye opener
We live in a beauty addicted society which is enhanced at every street corner. A huge eye opener for me have been the writings of Naomi Wolf who deliberately states that the myth of beauty has been installed for all of us and that it is not an accident that so many women feel this way:
„Most urgently, women’s identity must be premised upon our ‚beauty‘ so that we will remain vulnerable to outside approval, carrying the vital sensitive organ of self-esteem exposed to the air‘ – Naomi Wolf
Billions of dollars are spent to make us think a certain way, to define and forge our relationship to beauty. Putting attention toward countering that opens up channels to reclaiming our hearts, thoughts, minds and authenticity—the real beauty. If you haven’t yet I highly recommend you to read her book ‚The beauty myth‘.
And as I am slowly slowly embracing the path beyond that myth and enhance the de-programming of the cultural conditioning regarding looks I am learning that there is an amazing game-changer along the way: Self-compassion.
Which on a deep an profound level for me means to be gentle with myself with who I am and what I am right in this very moment. Even if I realize that I am not free of the societal beauty-programme yet.
“Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.” ~ Rumi