The Beauty Declaration: The Path to Freedom for Ourselves & Our Daughters
By SharonPope on August 20, 2014
According to research performed as part of the Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty, only 4% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.
I was sharing this information on the way to dinner with my 15-year old niece, Madison. I also told her that as part of that same study, they discovered that nearly 3 out of every 4 young girls around her age feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.
Here response, was a simple “Why?”
That struck me as odd, so I asked her: “Madison, if someone asked you, ‘do you feel pressure to be beautiful,’ what would you say?”
Simply, sweetly and confidently she replied, “I don’t need someone to tell me I’m beautiful. I already know I’m beautiful.”
Since then I have asked her how she came to know that truth about herself and she’s told me, “How is anyone else supposed to think I’m beautiful if I don’t think I’m beautiful?”
Out of the mouths of babes….
We all see the images every day that set the standard for the definition of beauty, but most of the time those images don’t look like us.
So we fall short of that beauty bar of perfection, believing that we’re not thin enough, not pretty enough and sometimes, just simply, not enough. It impacts our self-confidence and holds us back in our relationships, in our jobs and throughout our lives.
That lack of confidence deprives us of our real beauty. It masks the light inside each of us where our real beauty lives.
We hustle for approval from others and settle for less that we deserve.
We stay in unhealthy relationships because we’re afraid of being alone or finding love again.
We don’t go after that promotion at work.
We don’t set boundaries in our lives because we’re afraid of letting people down.
But here’s the real tragedy: We’re unintentionally passing this same problem down to our daughters because:
We cannot give to our daughters what we do not have for ourselves.
It’s not enough to just tell our daughters that they’re beautiful. We’ve all likely been told that at some point in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we believed it.
We’ve been told, “I love you,” but that doesn’t mean we always feel lovable.
We’ve been told, “You can do anything you want,” but we still hold back.
Our daughters have to see and feel that belief in us. They have to know we get it. They have to see us making choices that honor our own beauty. They have to know we celebrate that beauty by the way we share our gifts and show up in the world.
If we don’t, our daughters may believe what they see in the media and they’ll think it’s true.
They could grow up carrying that same baggage and unintentionally holding themselves back, settling for less and believing they’re somehow not enough.
There are a lot of fabulous advertising campaigns out there right now promoting self-acceptance and self-love. Some of those campaigns are even directed towards empowering young girls. That message is starting to be heard.
But we cannot leave our daughter’s self-worth solely in the hands of marketers.
We have the opportunity to go beyond that and change the conversation completely.
Our beauty has nothing to do with how we look. I believe that our beauty is our light that radiates from within.
It’s a part of us that isn’t physical, but you can absolutely experience it.
You can’t touch it, but you know it’s there.
Our beauty expresses itself in how we show up to the world and how we share our gifts.
In my speaking engagements, I ask women how their beauty is expressed and they’ve told me:
In my generous heart,
Through my writing,
In my presence for myself and others,
In the way I care for my family,
How I care for myself,
It’s how I demonstrate love.
When I asked my niece where her beauty lives, she told me it’s expressed in how she feels about herself every day; and when she feels confident and positive, it feels good to help other people feel good about themselves too. She’s in high school.
My beauty is expressed in the way I love people. If I love you, there’s almost nothing I won’t do for you.
It’s only once we can confidently stand in our truth about where our beauty really lives that we live in freedom from the lies we’re told about the definition of what constitutes beauty.
It’s only once we can have a deep understanding and confidence about the light we bring into this world that we end the hustle and know that we’re worthy just as we are.
It’s only once we acknowledge our own beauty and let it shine brightly that we give our daughters permission to do the same.