on beauty

Yesterday, I read a blog post about the author’s “Year of Living Ugly”. It really resonated with me.Β When I was young, I was severely burnt and was left with a scarred torso. The physical pain eventually faded, but the emotional pain remained. That scar ruled my life. It affected everything from how I felt about myself to what I wore to what I did to what I said. It was my own Life of Living Ugly.

I did my best to work on the inside, and to convince myself that it was the inside that would matter, because it was all I thought I had. But the work on the inside is never done. And somehow it was never enough. It was only recently that I realized the problem was that I never really believed that it was the inside that would matter. Well, I believed that it was true for others, but that somehow I was the exception. [Clearly, the ego is powerful.]

I share this not to solicit sympathy or compliments. I share this because I think it is a good example of how we usually show less kindness and love to our own self than we show to others. It took me almost 25 years to learn that the body is really a physical container for the soul and to treat it accordingly, and to see the truth that lies in Kahlil Gibran’s quote, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” My hope for you is that you know this already. Because there is no one else like you in the world – and you truly are beautiful.


24 Responses to “on beauty”

  1. I read the blog you mentioned… both your’s and her stories are interesting. I think it’s funny, in a way, because I always thought that you and Laura got the “looks”, of the three of us. It is true that we are hardest on ourselves….

  2. First the photo made me gasp (such clarity!) and then your story brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of a friend I went to school with. I thought she was incredibly beautiful as well as being funny and charismatic. She did have some burns on her legs but they were pretty damn shapely legs. I always envied her. Later, I learned that she wouldn’t even swim because she didn’t want folks to see her legs. Yet, I don’t think any of the rest of us really noticed her burns. She was just beautiful to us. I suspect that after initial meetings people’s personality is what creates the image of beauty or ugliness.

  3. I agree, we are hardest on ourselves. We see the imperfections in ourselves that we wouldn’t give a second glance or thought in others. And I think we don’t let what’s on the inside count, because we know our weaknesses and foibles so we can never be “good enough”. I hope that made sense.

  4. amy: that is funny. πŸ™‚

    kym: I think you’re right. When I think of people, I really see them, not their appearance – if that makes any sense. It’s really their personality that I see. Oh and yeah, swimming was one of those “Must avoid if at all possible” things. πŸ™‚

    toni: that made perfect sense – and I agree completely.

  5. A truly wonderful post on all counts.

    The photograph is delicately beautiful and wonderfully presented, with such a nice angle. And your words are superbly written and obviously heartfelt. You are spot on in your observations, in my opinion.

  6. What a coincidence you write this. I just gave you an award on my blog and mentioned how beautiful I think you are joking that you have a little help from Atlas. πŸ™‚
    So know this .. what you have worked on so hard, shine through to the other side of the world.

  7. OH, Lib. I feel sad for the girl you were, that you were so aware of your scars, when the rest of us were not. I mean, of course we knew they existed, but it was not something we paid attention to. But I can understand to a small extent…especially in the early teen years…I battled severe self-confidence issues and feelings of “inadequecy”until I was well into my 20’s. And they still can rear their ugly heads from time to time, which frustrates my husband to no end. Things from our formative years never quite leave us, do they? At some point and time we learn to accept that things are what they are (and were what they were), and to appreciate that which is good of it. –I have a similar shot of my own tulips from last spring, and have been enjoying it in this arctic winter we’re having. (dreams of what is coming!) But I’m sure yours is technnically superior;)

  8. This is one my favorite photos of yours. And the post is even better! I love it. I know we kind of had a chat about it, so I won’t go on and on here. But I want to point out the plus of the cyber world. We are judged on our ‘insides’, our personalities, our soul. Wouldn’t it be nice if that could transition into the real world- that there would be not even one person who judges on our ‘shell’? I think it’s a nice thought…

  9. hot eyes over here. there *are* always those double standards–such a challenge to be nice to your own head! thanks for sharing this piece.

  10. I also have a hard time doing things for myself, even though sometimes it is the most important thing we can do.

  11. i think it’s always a work in progress—there’s always someone better looking, smarter, better dresser, better career, cuter kids….etc. Seems like something new always crops up that we need to battle with ourselves. Good post. By-the-by, I’ve never noticed your scars. I even sunbathed with you at VFWPad and never noticed. Too busy worrying about my fat legs, you see. πŸ˜‰

  12. πŸ™‚ And what a special image.

  13. Beauty
    is a new poem written
    with each new birth.

  14. jfrancis: beautiful, just beautiful

  15. maryam: thanks, and thanks for the inspiration πŸ™‚

    ann: very true. btw: I don’t think your legs are fat, but isn’t it funny how we each worry about our own thing, never realizing that others are doing the same?!

    jen h: it really is

    laura: it’s definitely something I am striving for. πŸ™‚ I do believe that if you are filled with enough love for everyone, you truly don’t notice flaws at all – because you look at people through eyes of pure and utter love

  16. nora: don’t be sad. I think it’s hard to realize that everyone has their own worries and concerns when you’re young. I just find it interesting how long it took me to realize it in general. See .. I would’ve never known that you had problems with self-confidence! I wonder what life would be like – if we knew then what we know now. Hmmm ..

    liss: thank you for the award! how very sweet! and yes, I have lots of help from Atlas. πŸ™‚

    EWS: thank you

  17. Oooo, my favorite flower! Beautiful photo.

    That was such a moving post, Elizabeth. It really has me thinking…

    I think that your inner beauty is apparent to each person who reads your blog. Your work resonates compassion and gentleness and I’m glad that you’ve realized your worthiness. Sometimes those ‘imperfections’ that we feel we have end up making us stronger in the end. Have you embraced your scars as part of you or is it something you still occassionally have a hard time with?

  18. I hear you. Eight years ago I woke up with Bells Palsy- I still have residual facial paralysis from it, and I am often conscious of it. I call it my gimpy face. Mostly I don’t think about it though, I don’t have time for that : ) I have been meaning to do a post about it.

  19. I had forgotten about your scar until you mention it. When I think of you it is never thought of. Like Nora it makes me sad that it was such a big part of who you thought you were while to the rest of us it didn’t even register. We all have feelings of inadequacy…I know too well. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post…..

  20. julie: they’re not the first and last thing I see now, but I suppose I will still have my moments .. πŸ™‚

    jan: I haven’t heard of Bells Palsy; I will have to look it up. You are a busy mom!

    becca: so true, but it was also a good reminder that I was too concerned with my own feelings to recognize that everyone else has the same worries

  21. Such a beautiful post..and so very true. We are so quick to self-examine..to criticize..to forget that our beauty radiates from within. Love the accompanying image.

  22. ‘lizbeth i’m glad i came today and went backwards for my visit. this is a great post. in my work i meet many people who suffer from lack of love for their bodies. it may be due to vanity, disability or various other limitations. after years of listening i have come to realize that the body is much like the mind and the soul but different in that it takes on a visual form that all the world can see. Now, much like you have described here, i encourage those who distrust the beauty of their bodies to treat the house of their spirit with deep reverence and see them for the physiological miracles that they are. i don’t suggest to them that “it doesn’t matter what other’s think” because it will always matter and be important to us that other people can see our beauty. you frequently talk of making your body stronger, more lithe and flexible. in order for you to accomplish this you have had to become intimate with all of your body. we all would do better to try that simple approach. and since the body changes so much over a lifetime whatever peace we make with ourselves must be made anew over and over. so it never really ends. it is just one of those inevitable tasks of an earthly life. and by the way, you tell us of your own journey with such grace.

  23. leanne: I love you too

    marcie: if only we were slow in that regard

    robin: Thank you for your insight and wisdom. That is so true that it is a continual process – a very good reminder. I think that your clients must love you. πŸ™‚

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