When we look at ourselves in the mirror, what is the relationship we have with the image reflected back at us? How much do we appreciate ourselves?
A while ago I was in a shop trying on some clothes. The lady in the next cubicle came out looking stunning. She was trying on a beautiful dress – and her friend immediately expressed to her how gorgeous she looked. This lady did look gorgeous, and I could feel she loved the dress. The dress fitted beautifully and I could feel a grace in her quality as she stood in front of the mirror. It wasn’t that the dress made the woman into anything, it was that the woman in her beauty made the dress shine – she shone in the dress. I observed as the woman in the dress got distinctly more uncomfortable as she looked at herself in the mirror, and made some comments that picked fault in how it looked to her, and she decided not to buy the dress.
As I left the store I was curious about this. There had been many times when I had stood looking in the mirror at myself and my beautiful body shape in a gorgeous dress yet could not buy the dress – I was picky about various parts of my body – my tummy, the size of my bottom, did my knees look odd… you name it, I could find fault in it.
In the days that followed there was an article about a disorder that is a preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in our body and our appearance: body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) (1) which ‘affects up to one in 50 people’ (2). BDD can lead to ‘self-medicating’ by undergoing frequent and repeated plastic surgery, and some cases where some can spend thousands on procedures to change their appearance for example:
“American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Reports More Than $13.5 Billion Spent for the First Time Ever” (3)
It struck me that it is likely that many people, men and women, have stood in retail shop changing rooms also feeling this way, or looked in their own mirror at home feeling this way. I know I have. This doesn’t mean we all have body dysmorphic disorder, but it does raise questions:
What exactly are we seeing in the mirror, if we choose not to see our own beauty and accept it for what it is?
What kind of ‘image’ or ‘picture’ do we have about the way we should look? (for example how tall we look, our shape, size, the curves we have)
Did anyone ever tell us that we needed to be perfect?
And what exactly is the perfect body?
I don’t remember anyone ever telling me what a perfect body should look like – yet, I still had an ideal picture perfect me that I used to measure myself against.
Why is it that many of us feel self conscious or dissatisfied with our body shape, size, or features? After all – when we are born, we are uniquely different and we are undeniably beautiful.
Media images have long been cited as one potential factor in leading people to develop poor body image. We compare ourselves to the person in the picture or on the screen and from this we can feel we are not the same. This comparison can lead to us feeling less or down on ourselves because of the way we feel we look. Similarly we can compare ourselves to others in our life, as we pass them by on the street, and again by comparing, it can lead to feeling dissatisfied with who we are. More so, we compare ourselves, we judge ourselves (with that inner critical voice) with images and pictures we have in our own heads without choosing to see our true selves and our own true grace and beauty that is always there shining from within.
This raises more questions:
How many of us were raised in a way where we felt that whatever our body shape, or however we look, we are all deeply beautiful?
How many of us were educated to understand how we are all so different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ regarding grace, beauty, or how we ‘should’ look?
Where in society are we encouraged to be ourselves and to celebrate the range of shapes, sizes, and nuances of us all, because underneath this we each have innate qualities which is where our beauty begins – and not from the size of our feet, or colour of our hair?
It may be that these possibilities above feel far away from our normal daily living, but, there is much we can do to support ourselves and each other in appreciating and confirming our natural grace and beauty. Deepening our relationship with ourselves, appreciating our natural innate quality, our unique shape and size, and loving ourselves no matter what, is a foundation stone we can all build – as our relationship with ourselves is the most fundamental relationship we can have in life.
We can also take the deepening of our relationship with ourselves into our parenting, into our families, and into relationships with our friends and colleagues.
And, as we realise the true inner beauty we all are, we can express our dis-ease with social media, advertising, marketing, and the fashion and beauty industry so that it no longer uses images and pictures that don’t reflect who we truly are, but instead can reflect the truth of who we are in all facets of our lives.
As I finished this blog I came across this deeply empowering quote – which sums up the need to build our own relationship with ourselves – not just for women but for men also:
“Be the woman you feel yourself to be and not the one that has been told what to feel and be.”
Serge Benhayon (4)
If we learnt to live in this way, it may be that BDD or related disorders, and our own dis-satisfaction of ourselves would no longer exist and when we looked into a mirror we would simply melt by our own beauty-full reflection, and deeply appreciate ourselves and all that we are. This in turn would be a game changer – for instance, we would jump for joy when in the changing rooms in stores when we were trying on clothes, as these moments would be full of playful appreciation!
By Jane, UK
(1) Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation
(2) BBC New Online, June 2015, “The ‘ugly truth’ about Body Dysmorphic Disorder”
(3) American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), March 2016, “American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Reports More Than $13.5 Billion Spent for the First Time Ever”
(4) Serge Benhayon, 2011, Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, p 539
For Further Inspiration: