Seeing Beauty in Yourself

He had brown hair and brown eyes and to my mind then, he was the cutest boy in the world. I let him know of my affection in the way of a kindergartener and later that same day overheard him say, “Well, she’s not even cute. Toby is way cuter.” How old are we in kindergarten? Five? Six? Yet, I still remember it. I remember what he looked like, I remember how I felt.

When I was in junior high school, I was walking down the hall with my girl friend wearing my most favorite Banana Republic t-shirt and khaki brown shorts with the cutest sandals I’d ever seen. I loved this outfit. I felt pretty that day. There were two boys who I thought of as friends walking behind us and one of them said loud enough so I could hear, “With those calfs, she shouldn’t wear shorts.”

I was in high school and completely smitten with a boy named Brandon.

When I say smitten, I really mean it.

The sun rose and set around this boy. Eventually, he liked me back, but during the beginning, he was asking his best friend what he thought of me. Getting a second opinion, I guess. This friend told him, “I guess she’s pretty cute, but her jaw is a little muffed up.” Ouch.

I know this because Brandon shared that conversation with me after we started dating. Double ouch.

In college, I was in my student housing apartment hanging out with my room mates. I was wearing a purple sweatshirt and these black LA Gear shoes that I spent way too much money on for a college student. One of my roommates had a boyfriend over and he brought some of his buddies. One of these friends seemed to take an interest in me and we were chatting a bit away from the group. I thought he was going to ask me out. Instead, he said, “You’d be pretty hot if you’d just get yourself on a stair master.”

I have had so many other, more important experiences in my life, both good and bad and these moments are still stuck in my head to this day. Why? Yesterday, my photographer husband took a bunch of pictures of me to use on this website.

We had fun. He made me laugh. We even brought my dog to get some shots of me and my girl together.

Later in the day, when he was showing me the finished images, I instantly began looking at them critically. Do I look heavy? Why is that one eye closing when I smile? Oh man! I think I look old in some of these! At one point I actually wondered, Is my jaw muffed up?

I don’t walk around the world as an overly self-conscious person. I don’t even spend very much time on my appearance, actually. My daily uniform consists of a pony tail, whatever pants are stretchy and comfortable, and one of the free t-shirts I get when I sign up for bike races. But still, I am fairly confident. I’m still out there, living a life. Getting stuff done. The photo shoot was different, obviously. I put on make up. I did my hair. I wore clothes that wouldn’t also serve as workout attire. Let’s just say, it was as good as it gets. Why do I wince when I see photos of myself? Do you do this? Why is it so hard to see photos of ourselves? And when we see them, to see the good in them?

A few Sundays ago, I walked out of my bedroom dressed and ready for church, and when my youngest son saw me he said, “Mom! You are beautiful. Dad is a lucky man.”

Oh, that kid. He is such a charmer.

But, seriously, though… I am going to try very hard to remember comments like that more. Because that was said with love by someone who knows me inside and out and who’s opinion actually matters. More than that, I am going to try and see the good in myself before the flaws. I’m going to try and be my own cheerleader.


Originally published at findmeaning.net on April 28, 2015.