Prior to 2020, there were terms used to describe beauty and health that were loose in meaning and used pretty casually. The true understanding of beauty and health was challenged this year. For me, I can safely say that mindful use of language has been a challenge and a commitment throughout my life. How you may ask? Well, English is my second language and my first language I’m no longer intuitively fluent in. Some vocabulary I only learned through media or in my social circles. True definitions have been a little blurry for me so I’ve committed myself to find the meaning behind the words I use because of this.
For example, I grew up learning English curse words as a french speaker. I never understood the gravity of their meaning, especially used in certain contexts. I became desensitized to certain phrases and language that overtime lost impact due to my overuse. Saying “I love that!” over a pair of shoes broke down the intensity of how much weight the word love holds. It’s something I’ve actively worked on yet until this year, I let some societal interpretation of some words really impact my self-talk. Words like ugly, fat, frumpy, etc. were subconsciously categorized in my mind as opposites of beauty. I can safely admit that this didn’t affect the way I saw beauty in people. One of my gifts as a human on this green earth is that I can see the beauty in people. I view different shapes, sizes, and skin conditions as beautiful even if it’s not considered so in the traditional sense.
What we have to understand is beauty is constantly being redefined. This post does a great job of describing the continuous changes we have seen in our standards of beauty. It’s exhausting to keep up with the ever-evolving standards that, for the life of me, I can’t figure out who sets. However, on an individual level, I have tirelessly worked to shed the notion that my fluctuating appearance is not beautiful. I teach skin love because I have achieved positive self-talk with my outermost organ, but it’s been a battle to accomplish the same mindfulness with my body image. I’ve struggled with body image issues since I was a kid. I can safely say I was obsessed with being thin but also have the “right” type of curves. The imprint left on my impressionable brain that I’m imperfect can be rooted in dopey ex-boyfriends commenting on my body. “Why are your boobs so small?” OR “It looks like your body is from two different people.” mocking my curvy hips and small chest, OR even just insisting that the cellulite I’ve had since I was 10 is a result of my lack of exercise and poor diet choices. I’m a person who has had disordered eating my whole life and would obsessively exercise to maintain my already underweight body. These comments were from people who claimed to love me so the additional comments I would hear from strangers bear no repeating even though they have been cemented in my brain. So thankfully those people are no longer in my life and haven’t been for the better part of the last decade or two.
It wasn’t until this year, the year that broke many of us down, that I realized my subconscious was ready to redefine beauty for myself. This year, it’s clear that ugly is not defined by looks anymore.
Ugly is being prejudiced, bigoted, small-minded, racist, sexist, ignorant, exclusive to others who are different than you.
Ugly is not what you look like – what you look like is your human experience.
Ugly is the darkness in a person who is not accepting or kind to others.
Ugly is not skin imbalance, weight, or race.
Ugly is those who criticize those parts of you.
Beauty is being 100% your most authentic self or at least in the pursuit of it.