“Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have…undressed in front of a gentleman has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
You’ve probably heard that quote before. And you’ve probably heard others like it, too:
- “There’s no need to feel self-conscious! I can guarantee you, get naked in front of the person who loves you and all they’ll be thinking is how hot you are to them!”
- “Whatever you think about yourself, your husband is with you because he thinks you’re the most beautiful girl in the world!”
- “Don’t worry! They wouldn’t be with you if they didn’t think you were hot!“
They’re pitched as the answer to “Does he find me attractive?” and they’re nice little quotes. They validate us. They remind us that even if we can’t see the beauty within ourselves, we can at least know that other people, especially our partners, find us attractive.
There’s just one big, gaping hole of a problem with all of those ideas….
They’re all bullshit. Here’s why:
- Because sometimes, your partner will judge the shit out of you. Although they might not say it (or sometimes they will – trust me, it happens), they might not find you physically attractive at certain points.
- Because they reinforce the notion that self-acceptance is possible only when no one judges or feels negatively about your body.
- Because they reinforce the notion that self-acceptance is most “justified” when comes from the validation of another.
- Because they give other people the power to dictate who and what you are.
But what happens when your partner doesn’t tell you that you’re beautiful?
What if they decide that they’re no longer feeling the physical chemistry, or what if they’re going through their own insecurities and can’t give you that validation right now, or what if they just suck at giving compliments or find intellect more attractive than body parts or are projecting their own internalised issues onto you…. what then? Where does that leave you?
What are you to do about your self-esteem when your external source of validation and worth can’t (or doesn’t) make themselves available to you?
These nice, fluffy notions of finding the one person who finds you to be a total bombshell at all times and you never having to worry about harshly judging yourself by your appearance make you feel warm and fuzzy and they look damn good on a Pinterest board, but they aren’t what’s going to help you repair your relationship with your body.
If anything, they’ll serve to keep you tied to a bitter dynamic of fear, guilt, shame and loathing towards your body under the guise of empowerment.
Not so Pin-worthy now, are they?
So many of us place such a heavy importance on other people seeing us as gorgeous, desirable, hot, cute, pretty, sexpots. And whilst it’s understandable to want to feel desired by the person that you’re in a relationship with (and perhaps also want others to see you as desirable too), there’s a very fine line between wanting to be desired and seeing the desire we do/don’t receive as indicative of our overall attractiveness and thus, our worth as a woman.
Many women can relate to feeling insecure, unhappy with their bodies and crippled by low self-esteem and, in times like that, sometimes we want an external “boost” from someone. We know that someone telling us that we’re pretty/hot/sexy/desirable won’t solve our problems and won’t magically make us love ourselves, but we still want desperately to hear it. Sometimes, we even presume that if we don’t hear it, our worst judgements of ourselves must therefore be true.
And sometimes, we feel so deeply low that even if we receive external appearance-based validation, we dismiss it because it wasn’t the “right” choice of words.
- “Oh, so I’m pretty? That’s it, just pretty? Not beautiful? Gee thanks!”
- “So you think I’m beautiful, great… but you don’t think I’m sexy?”
- “So I have a sexy face. Why didn’t you mention my body though, what’s wrong with my body?”
But here’s what we need to realise:
- If, and even if, your partner looks at you one day and thinks to themselves “Nope, I’m really not into that!”… this says nothing about how attractive you are in general.
- If, and even if, your partner tells you one day that they’re not sure if you’re physically attractive… this says nothing about how attractive you are in general.
- Your partner not thinking you’re attractive doesn’t make you unattractive.
- Your partner not complimenting you doesn’t make you unattractive.
- You telling yourself that you’re not attractive doesn’t make you unattractive.
Let’s talk about attraction for a moment. Attraction is entirely based on perceptions, and perceptions can (and do) change.
Have you ever had a crush on someone who you later felt nothing towards at all? Or, do you normally find your partner smokin’ hot but sometimes you look at them while they’re brushing their teeth with toothpaste dripping down their face and not feel that same desire? Or, have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror one day and felt gorgeous, only to zero in on everything that you thinks makes you gross the next day?
All of these examples show perception change in action. Perception is fluid, and based on innumerable variables.
And, none of us are perceived the same by everyone, nor are we universally attractive or unattractive.
One person might not want to touch us with a 10ft pole. Another person might think we’re a freakin’ goddess and want to ravage us immediately.
Neither of those opinions should be the basis of our self-worth, identity and view of our place in the world.
You’re here to do far more than just stand around and look pretty.
And you’re here for far bigger things than just to be a receptacle of desire.
You have more to offer than just beauty. You do not owe “pretty” or “sexy” or “hot” to anyone, not even to yourself.
You don’t have to dress a certain way. You’re not required to be “flattering” or “fuckable” or “feminine”.
However you choose to see yourself, know this:
YOU have the power to set your own definition for what you are and how you choose to see yourself. If, amongst other things, you want to be beautiful, you have the power to define your own beauty and carve out a space for what makes you the beautiful, badass, powerful, amazing and gorgeous woman that you are.
If you don’t give two fucks about being beautiful, or if you don’t see yourself as beautiful and are totally empowered by that, YOU too have the power to define what makes you the kickass, awesome, incredible and freakin’ wonderful woman that you are.
If you want to be beautiful, you are.
If you don’t want to be beautiful, you’re not.
The definition of who and what you are is something that can’t be given to you by someone else, nor does anybody else have the capacity to take that away from you.
No piece of clothing or sexual partner or friend’s approval has the authority to dictate who you are.
YOU, and you alone, have the power to dictate whether you’re beautiful, sexy, attractive, hot, gutsy, smart, passionate, driven, thoughtful, kind, loving and more.
Claim that power.
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