Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Let’s talk about beauty…
By the time I graduated high school, I still didn’t know how to swim.
I’d never learned, not properly, and there was a reason.
To this day I remember my first swimming lesson. My PE teacher’s voice was yelling instructions at me as I awkwardly splashed my way through the water.
But only part of my attention was focused on staying afloat, because meanwhile on the sidelines some boys from my class were laughing together. You see, they’d always thought that ‘whales were supposed to know how to swim‘.
I didn’t cry, or make a fuss.
But when I reached the end of that pool, I got out, and didn’t get back in again.
Not for a long time.
A lot of us have stories just like this one.
And consequently, we know what it’s like to look at the cover of a magazine and feel a pang of innocent determination… that one day, we want to look ‘just like that’.
I remember being one of these girls.
I’d always press the ‘fat burn’ button on the treadmill,
believing that somehow this convenient little setting would live up to its name and get me the body I’d always wanted. (False advertising if you ask me!)
I’d spend years looking down at my annoyingly stubborn scales, which never had anything new to say.
I’d listen attentively to people I trusted, as they’d offer me ‘constructive criticism’ on how to be more beautiful.
You see, I know what it’s like to be afraid of the water.
Of avoiding the deep end at all costs and wanting to hide in the locker room so that nobody would ever have to know how slow, overweight or uncoordinated you are.
But that’s not how you learn to swim.
You learn to swim when your fears stop being as important as your desire to become better.
And it was here, at a very simple realization that I found my turning point.
I don’t want or need to be skinny to be beautiful.
I needed to be strong.
And the moment I made this decision, that was what I became.
Because the beautiful thing about strength, is that it doesn’t begin with a simple gym membership.
It begins with you.
In the world beneath your skin.
I don’t like talking about ‘imperfections’…
Because it implies that to be ‘perfect’ is the standard we are striving for.
And I don’t believe that this is realistic, or even possible.
I think it’s about time we start setting ourselves new standards.
To be whole.
To be happy.
To be strong.
Because beauty is a whole lot more than a pretty face and a winning smile.
Beauty is nonexclusive.. and a gift we all share, at the heart of who we are.
Some may say it is fleeting, but I disagree.
I believe it grows with us, as we move through life…
Along with our capacity to seek it out and find it in each other.
Because isn’t that one of the most beautiful things of all?
I’ve recently committed myself to being a bigger part of this conversation, and the way I see it, there are two ways to do this:
1. When you see beauty in someone, tell them about it.
2. When someone sees beauty in you, believe them.
I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t always easy.
Often, something as simple as acknowledging the beauty in ourselves, can take a hell of a lot of strength.
But I hope you can find it.
Because you deserve to understand how beautiful you are.
In many ways, it’s easier to shape ourselves from the outside.
We can diet, apply make-up, do our hair… all sorts of things.
But it’s a lot scarier, to stop relying on what our eyes are telling us, and to start believing in this ambiguous ‘inner’ type of beauty, that you can’t see in the mirror.
Because you can’t SEE it.
And as a result we are left with two options.
To trust in each other,
and to trust in ourselves.
May you always find the courage to climb back into that pool,
and just keep swimming. 🙂
Peace and love,
(c) Ingrid Johnsen