We are just back from a wonderful holiday touring Scotland around the NC500. It is a beautiful coastal route with the most incredible scenery…..and some very interesting roads!
As we drove around, we marvelled at so many beautiful views and sights from the stunning west coast beaches to the enormous Smoo Cave on the north coast and some of the tiny little flowers growing in the most unlikely of places.
When we look to the beauty of nature, we do not need to compare. I did not find myself trying to rate the flowers against the caves or the beaches against the sea stacks. Each was beautiful, significant and valued in its own right. Nature creates beauty in so many ways. It does not have a beauty rating or a preference. As I looked around with the ever-changing views each day I watched with wonder a myriad of colours, shapes, textures and sizes. None was better or more impressive than the other. Each unique feature was just as it needed to be.
We were mostly blessed with dry weather and some sunshine too. We had a couple of stormy days but they didn’t make anything less beautiful – the beauty simply looked different in the rain and wind, and nature showed its variety and resilience.
Imagine if we connect to our own beauty in just the same way. Imagine a life in which we do not have to compare sizes and see one size or shape as better than the other, or certain colours as better or worse. Imagine if each one of us could recognise our own uniqueness and the special beauty in that uniqueness. Nature creates huge mountains and tiny mountain flowers; giant crashing waves, and miniscule grains of sand; soaring graceful golden eagles and small sturdy puffins with glorious colourful beaks.
We are nature. As humans we can fall into the trap of thinking we are different or more than nature, but there is nothing more or less superior, nothing more or less beautiful in nature’s manufacturing. We are all created through the same unseen energy of the universe and designed to be just as we are.
Of course sometimes nature can be destructive and damaging and as humans we have the intellect and skills which can help to heal and adapt when our bodies do not work at their best or when things go wrong. That’s about helping nature when it struggles, rather than changing because it doesn’t serve to meet our aesthetic preferences. I’m very grateful we have such resources.
We will also develop preferences – we are human after all; but if we can hold those preferences lightly and know they don’t add to or detract from beauty, we learn to remove any judgement for our preferences.
All too often, however, today’s beauty industry looks at changing what nature offers, suggesting that we change how we look for a ‘better’ or ‘younger’ version, or for smoother and more contoured lines. And yet the beautifully sculpted landscape, the mountains and valleys, beaches and cliffs which have been created over billions of years are stunningly beautiful just as they are. Nature does not need enhancements. It does not need to have smooth lines or straight edges. It is in the imperfection that we see perfection. Time and age are celebrated by nature, not frowned upon.
Let’s look to nature as the most glorious beauty industry we could ever have. Let us start to celebrate all that we are and see our uniqueness without comparison.
With October love. Sarah
Why do we feel the need to conform to societal beauty standards?
Culture places such an emphasis on physical appearance. Often appearance is strongly linked with self-worth acceptance. I encourage you to explore how societal standards have influenced your sense of self and to think about your personal qualities and beyond appearance.
How can I begin to accept and appreciate myself and my appearance without needing to change how I look?
Self-compassion is central to this process. We don’t choose our struggles with weight, food or self-esteem, neither do we choose our beliefs about appearance or preference – they develop over time in response to our experiences. Stepping away from self-blame is key to a compassionate approach.
I worry about being judged or rejected because of how I look. How can I overcome this?
As you develop self-compassion and in turn, your self esteem with a kinder inner voice, your sense of worth will be less dependent on external validation, and you will start to realise your ‘enoughness’ just as you are. As you start to identify your values for how you treat others and how you want to be treated, your self-image with develop beyond appearances alone.
Are there some practical things I can do to develop acceptance of my appearance?
There are many things which can help, including mindfulness practices to help us focus on what is important to us in life, learning to be less controlled by what we think and getting in touch with our values for living so that they can be our best guides for how we treat ourselves and see our worth. It is also important to learn to connect in the present to our bodies so that we can start to meet their needs and appreciate what our bodies can do rather than simply how they look.