by Bianca Barban, Melbourne, Australia
So many things come up when I think about how I look. First thing that pops up is, am I allowed to say that out loud? Will people look at me and judge me? Will they break down every part of me and add it back together and decide “NO, you are wrong – this is not true”. Or worse, will they think I am arrogant and laugh at my apparent lack of humility, and be critical.
I Am Beautiful and I have a deep knowing that when I was a child I knew my true beauty. It was real, it was tangible, it was full and ever present. It was confirmed in me! So what happened? Now, when I stand in front of the mirror I pick myself apart. I hear the messages of self-loathing in my head: my skin looks dry, I am getting wrinkles, my tummy is too round, my thighs too bumpy… STOP!
I Am Beautiful, but if you tell me that I will shrink away. I will deflect your comment. I will make it about what I am wearing, how it was on sale, how it is old, how you look beautiful too.
I Am Beautiful and I have a reservoir of childhood memories that I can tap into to remind me. Most of them have my father in them praising how I look beautiful. I remember feeling “Wow, he must really see me – this is fantastic”… but I allowed myself to be deceived. I began to place so much value on outside recognition that I chose not to confirm me. I knowingly abandoned true beauty for recognition, and this is a slippery slope. The more recognition I received, the more I allowed a dark cloud to cloak my essence until my true beauty wasn’t tangible anymore; it was all about how I looked.
The recognition became an addiction. It brought a relief from the pain of losing the real beauty in me. It came with expectations. Beauty now meant manners and perfect behaviour and niceness, even as I was growing into a teenager. I fulfilled this role to perfection as I chose to believe it was the only thing I had to offer. By accepting recognition it seemed like I agreed to the contract that how I looked was the only quality about me that would be valued.
I didn’t feel to question the value of external beauty. When I looked at my mother she was so beautiful on the outside. She was tall and slim, with short fashionably cut blonde hair and green eyes. She was never without her red lipstick, even first thing in the morning, and her long fingernails were always painted red. I remember when she used to come and pick me up from primary school, all the other children would stare at her. I felt this sense of pride; this was my mum and she was beautiful.
The thing that confused me was, that whilst on the outside she maintained this picture of beauty, she always felt so empty to me, kind of like there was this desperation about her and sadness that could not be fulfilled by how she looked.
I began to accept that this was what being female was. I also began to notice that beauty in my family came with competitiveness and separation from other women. My mother had a mother and two sisters who were all very much into their appearance. There was always comparison between sisters, and even mother and daughter. I remember the hate I felt from my younger female cousin as her mother held me as an ideal, always using me as an example to stop her daughter from eating too much or behaving in certain ways.
I have recollections of my aunties commenting on ‘how skinny I am’ and pinching my arms or poking my tummy to illustrate their point, or comparisons between themselves at my age and how they were beautiful and skinny too. Comments that were harsh and critical or seemingly positive… and they all made me feel like running away. I now realise that having chosen to value recognition above true beauty, I no longer had the fullness of me to deflect the harshness.
I Am Beautiful and when I reflect on the attention it has brought in my life I feel like hiding. It makes me want to not be beautiful. The imposition I have felt over how I look has been overwhelming. It has made me feel scarred. Bizarre huh?, but being beautiful has come laced with conditions, beliefs, ideals, people wanting something from me, judgement, criticism, harshness, hardness and emptiness.
Then there was the attention from males, which at times did not feel innocent. There were the yucky uncles, older male cousins, and even my dad’s attention sometimes felt intrusive. I would feel myself shrink in their presence; it was like they viewed me as a desirable object and I would feel this creepiness in my body. It was like something had entered and innocence was lost. When I looked at my mum and her sisters, they loved male attention, but for me I began to feel that looking beautiful came with too much complication; the way it was used in my family felt so tainted and wrong.
So, I have tried to sabotage my beauty. I eat with the intention to protect and for comfort. The food is always high quality, ‘real’ food, but the intention is often to hide myself, so I would eat lots and eat quickly – not even tasting the food. There is a feeling deep down inside me that I don’t deserve true nourishment, and that to be hungry is wrong. Food feels like a cushion that helps push down those feelings of invasion, criticism, discontent and lack of self-worth. It is a harming cycle though, as the more food comforts, the more weight goes on… and then the self-loathing voices its ugly opinion.
I have allowed criticism and self-loathing to be my internal dialogue. It is a greatly harmful ally to keep you small and keep the pain of abandoning true beauty hidden. I made sure I always looked nice because there is protection in that, too. I have put a lid on what is naturally there in me as a safety measure to keep unwanted attention away.
Enough is enough! I deserve true healing. I have tried many things over the years to try and reclaim being beautiful – diets, exercise, new clothes, make-up – but I have found nothing helped to heal the hurts that were there behind my rejection of my being beautiful.
The only thing that has truly supported me are the Esoteric Healing modalities. These techniques have reflected another way and supported me to feel what re-connection to my essence feels like, and that beauty truly comes from within. Feeling that absolute preciousness and sweetness that is naturally within me feels amazing and is deeply inspiring, better than any outside compliment that can be bestowed. The stillness I have experienced is exquisite. Stillness flows through my body and expands through every pore, I feel it leave through my feet, my hands and move through my chest. I am massive, unending, my essence fills the room. I am a sparkly ball of LOVE.
It feels like the most natural way of being. This is the beauty I choose. This is the quality I confirm is me. This is the love I commit to. I am still grounded though, and know there is a lot to heal. I know that I am the only one who is responsible for my healing, and I am the only one responsible for choosing recognition over the fullness of me. So now I return to my deep knowing and I choose true beauty, the quality that is naturally within everyone. I give myself permission to embrace my femaleness and confirm for myself, without a doubt, that I AM BEAUTIFUL.