I haven’t always treated myself kindly. Even today, it's hard for me to talk about this brief period of my life (I write “brief” because the older I get, the less those couple years count as part of the whole). I am still embarrassed about being both ignorant and abrasive towards my external appearance.
While in college, I vacillated between not caring what I looked like and letting myself fall apart, to being vain and caring way too much. I simply lost my relationship with my outside. I still appreciated the specialness of who I was on the inside. But the inside and outside didn’t match, and they were at odds.
I had a front row seat to each battle. Watching myself from the outside. And the reality of being human is that we all see other people from the outside first.
The reality of being human is that we see other people from the outside first (the whole book cover scenario). Our dust jacket isn’t a bad thing, unless we make it a problem. And I made it a problem.
I thought I wasn’t thin enough, so I withheld food. I over used food. I treated food like the enemy. I spent copious amounts of time and energy on my outward appearance. I was a sort of unconfident narcissist. I ping ponged between loving what I looked like (which is unusual based on my Italian/Ecuadorian heritage) to not feeling good enough.
It consumed extraordinary amounts of energy.
Then it happened. I was in an accident. This traumatic event changed my attitude. I stopped bullying myself into needing my inside to feel superior to my outside. I made peace with my internal and external self, which led me to realize that loving what we look like is a very important part of our spiritual evolution.
If you are evolved on the inside but treat your external appearance with disdain, then there is an imbalance. It is the inverse of what happens when we only focus on what we look like and ignore loving who we are internally.
3 Key Things To Promote Loving What We Look Like:
1. Look at yourself in the mirror.
I don’t mean just to check out your hair or outfit, but sit down in front of a mirror and hold your own gaze for 30 seconds, then rest. Then try 1 minute, then 2 minutes. Really see yourself and how beautiful (or handsome) you are on the outside. Instead of using energy avoiding ourselves, we should make peace with seeing clearly what we look like.
2. Get naked.
Make it a ritual to spend some time each day living in what Martha Graham calls “our most important garment.” Loving what we look like is a radical form of self-acceptance. Instead of covering that up or shrinking away from your body, open your eyes to literally being comfortable in your own skin.
3. Embrace your uniqueness.
Do it for you. Loving what we look like means that we embrace our heritage and all that has created us. As Maya Angelou writes, “You alone are enough; you have nothing to prove to anybody.”
Loving your external appearance means you believe yourself to be enough. By doing that, you give others permission to be themselves.
Today, embrace the full spectrum of what you look like and find that balance between inside and outside. My hope is that you can find this balance without having to go through a traumatic experience like I did.
Love yourself, love your day, love your life!