Yesterday, when I walked down the road to catch the bus, I was feeling full of my own inner beauty, the true beauty of myself as a woman: my heart was open and I felt joy when I came across other people on my way. Many of these interactions were with men…
- a simple ‘good morning’ to the man walking his dog
- a warm hello to the road sweeper who looked surprised but opened up like a flower in response to my smile
- a wave hello to the man who runs a café who always leans out of his door to wave back at me and wish me a good day
- a brief heartfelt conversation with a man who asked me directions
- a smile and a ‘thank you’ to two men sitting on a doorstep whiling their time away, who told me I looked lovely today.
As I walked and shared these interactions my heart opened more and more and the spring in my step turned into a bounce. I feel joy as I write these words, and there is a part of me that is still surprised. It hasn’t always been like this!
Being a shy little girl I grew up hoping no-one would notice me. Any attention that came my way from strangers was not welcome and was usually met with defence. I used to shrink and want to hide, which made everything more difficult to deal with.
As a young teenager the attention I received from men was especially unwelcome. I was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with such attention from the opposite sex. I remember the first time I was tooted at and yelled at by a couple of men in a white van, I was 11 and had just had my hair done by a guy who had given me a hairstyle that was much too mature for my years. This was the beginning of many years of catcalling, verbal abuse and unwanted attention on the street.
The way that I dealt with this for many years was to continue to be defensive and to shrink away from men and their comments. Of course this left room for more comments and fun poking, which hurt me and made me more defensive. I felt like a victim and allowed myself to adopt that position and attitude. I wore this attitude like an accepted role, which could be seen and felt by everyone… and so came more of the same. I kept myself small.
Over the years as I have grown into a mature woman, I have continued to experience the same type of behaviour from men. I have grown to accept that I can’t control how other people choose to behave, but I have learnt that I can choose how I respond – and this makes all the difference. With a growing sense of self, and acceptance of my own inner beauty, I have come to a place where I no longer want to hide and withdraw from the world. I want to shine! And when I shine I am seen!
I am a beautiful woman. Of course men will look. And what am I going to greet them with? A closed and defensive nature which invites attack, or an open heart that meets them as equal human beings who have the same beauty on the inside? I have now experienced on many occasions the transformation that can occur when I meet men with an openness from my heart. An otherwise threatening situation can simply dissolve, and I watch them disarm in front of my eyes. Men are truly beautiful when given the chance.
By taking responsibility for myself and my own behaviour I can refuse to adopt the position of being small and being seen as an object. I know I am more than this, and I can liberate myself by respecting and loving myself and treating everyone from that respectful loving place.
These days, instead of the abusive hurtful comments I used to receive as a young adult, most of my interactions with men are void of abusive energy and instead are a confirmation of my loveliness and my respect for myself. I now receive their comments, like the ones I received yesterday, gracefully and with appreciation of myself. What a welcome difference!
How amazing it is to experience and appreciate the true beauty within men by fully embracing and sharing the beauty of myself as a woman – my own true inner-beauty.
by Rebecca Turner
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