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by Sheri Sutton

Last night at a gals gathering I received a lot of compliments about how great I looked. Turning 5o this year really affected me (in my head) so I drastically changed my diet and fitness plan because I want to look and feel healthier as I age. As strange as it sounds those wonderful sweet comments actually triggered some old issues and made me feel very insecure. Regardless of what anyone else sees when they look at me, I still struggle with my self image. I hate my legs, I hate my lack of fashion sense, I hate how my skin is changing as I age and when I look in the mirror today I still see the same stuff I disliked before I even started down my new healthy path. As a woman I really think our society makes it hard to understand what beauty really is and it is not being a size 2 which I will NEVER be. It is not hiding the wrinkles, having perfect boobs or having the ability to look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Those things only help in looking good on the outside especially to other people, they do not help in feeling good on the inside because it becomes a constant and ongoing battle to stay youthful.

My journey to understanding beauty is evolving and like most of you and I believe it relates to everything in my past, in what I read and in what I see in the media. I was bullied in elementary and middle school, mostly by boys, because of my lisp. I never shared any of that with my parents because I was embarrassed and I hated who I was. I never felt pretty as a teenager or really related well with the girls and most boys never showed much interest in me. I always felt different and there were times I considered suicide, something I am embarrassed about and something thank goodness I never did. Being an artist in a small town made me feel weird and I never felt I completely fit in with anyone so most of the time I tried to be someone I was not. My knowledge of beauty came from what I read and what I observed around me, it never came from any inside force. I dated guys who didn’t treat me well, who spoke down to me, who cheated on me and I was in a verbally abusive marriage for 10 years. Today I have the ability to see all that stuff as “my story,” it is not what defines me or the reality of who I am. And while none of this really relates to “beauty,” my lack of believing I was beautiful created a lack of self confidence and self esteem which became the key reason I was making poor choices in my life. Those kind of choices lead to regret and self loathing and that often becomes a pattern because deep down inside we begin to believe we are not worthy of anything better. How is it possible to ever feel beautiful if that is what resides on the inside?

There was a point last night where 4 beautiful women all began sharing what they hated about themselves and as I listened I realized I didn’t see any of the flaws they mentioned. It took me 42 years, a ton of self help books, counseling, hypnotherapy and repeated heart breaks to finally begin to get it in my head that “life is not about what everyone else thinks you are but what you believe yourself to be.” It is that deep understanding and the ability to look in the mirror and love the person staring back that has helped me with my struggle of finding beauty within myself. It is also the realization that some days you don’t love that person and need to find a way to get back to that place. Constant reminders from outside sources are great flattery but feeling beautiful on the inside is a completely different thing.

Every single one of us are beautiful not because we are thin, or have great hair, beautiful skin or perfect teeth but because of that essence of who we really are, ”THAT” is the gift of beauty and what we offer to others. I believe it comes with being happy and feeling content on the inside. What we see as flaws in our appearance should not be considered as ugly but rather as our virtue because those things are what make us unique and that is beautiful.

Every one of you are beautiful not because of what you look like but because of just being who you truly are. My wish to all of you who might be struggling with your own beauty issues is to embrace your inner beauty and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks or sees on the outside. While I realize that is often easier said than done, having internal acceptance and love strengthens you self confidence and when you have that you could care less about what anyone else thinks. Once you find that you are truly beautiful because that allows you to be you.

I don’t like what aging looks like on the outside of me but on the inside it feels wonderful because that is where all of the life knowledge I have gained sits, it is what has led me to where I am now and it reflects who I am, THAT makes me feel beautiful!

Sending love…pass it on!! xoxo

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