Since childhood I have had an issue with my feet.
They always looked too big to me and my toes seemed too long, out of proportion as to how I judged beauty to be. As an Asian woman, I grew up holding onto the image that beauty is being soft spoken, never drawing attention to oneself and about having tiny and delicate feet, as most of the women that I grew up with had small feet, and I would compare myself with them. I would deliberately buy shoes that were a little bit too small, convinced that my feet should and could fit into them. In consequence, my feet would suffer but there were always justifications for doing this, such as in time the shoes would either ‘magically’ stretch, or that my feet were actually as I believed them to be, smaller and more delicate than they are.
The concept of delicateness to me then was one which was purely determined by outward appearances (but now I understand that delicateness is a quality within myself no matter how I looked on the outside), and so I could not accept that a woman of my petite stature could have feet that seemed so long. I did not want to stand out with my “big” feet, and was continuously finding ways to literally “fit in” to what was my accepted ideal of myself.
There was a lot that I didn’t accept about my outward appearance. Not only did I not like my feet, I also did not like being petite. I wanted to grow taller or have smaller feet, anything but just being me. A few years ago my body went through a lot of changes. I lost a lot of weight and was constantly receiving negative comments from everywhere.
At that point, I realised I had been living entrenched under the mercy of how the world thought of me, and I chose to stop.
Throughout the years with working on accepting more of myself, I have continued to discard shoes that are too small and felt uncomfortable. Although recently, when feeling much closer in connection to myself, I still found myself buying another pair of shoes that were a bit too tight! Not only did this expose a pattern of self-sabotaging shopping, it showed me that subtly and insidiously, I keep coming back to the familiarity of holding back.
Holding back has been a picture that I have accepted as a normal part of being a woman.
So in every aspect of expression, holding back has been normal and familiar for me in life—from the tone and manner in how I speak, the way I hold myself, the food I choose to eat and how much, the way I dress, how much money I allow myself to have, the way I move…. all reflect that a lack of self-worth is normal, if not expected of myself. This was the picture of how being a woman should be in my growing up.
Consequently, not expressing myself in my greatness and fullness is what feels familiar; accepting abuse also feels familiar, but this familiarity is no longer what my body can accept anymore.
So one day when I put on a ‘favourite’ pair of shoes, I stopped to truly feel. Although these shoes did not hurt, they were quite pointy and the tip of my feet felt capped and therefore the whole of my body did not feel fully spacious. My feet, just like any part of my body deserve to be truly expressed, therefore capping the expression of any one part of my body can only lessen the expression of all parts—and ultimately, the expression of my whole being. There will always be beautiful shoes around which are just a bit too small for me, and it is up to me to say “no”.
I discarded these shoes and never looked back, for there is no greater beauty than to accept and express the greatness that we truly are.
Our innate greatness is so natural and powerful that not even the strongest picture of culture, nationality or religion can hold back our expression when it comes from the connection we have built with ourselves, for our worth is far greater than any man-made ideal.
To have come to this understanding is an appreciation of, and an inspiration from Serge Benhayon.
By Adele Leung, Image Director and Fashion Stylist, Hong Kong
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