Self-image in our world is a toughie. The media displays perfect body after perfect body after perfect body, creating the expectation that if we are not perfect we are not beautiful. I have lived the majority of my life in a state of self-criticism when it comes to my physical self. I recall going to department stores to try on....well, anything, where the dressing rooms have those mirrors where you can see every inch of yourself under florescent lighting, and the cellulite dimples become unsightly sinkholes sucking down any last remnant of self-esteem. In those days, I never bought shorts or swimwear and generally avoided trying on clothes in the store all together.
Now I have learned that it is totally 100% normal to have some dimples, moles, freckles, even a spider vein or two and still retain some sense of beauty. I try to take the media's showing of perfection with a grain of salt and imagine how those clothes will look on me instead of how much better they look on her. Recently, I purchased a dress to wear to the theater and it fit me so well I was actually pleased with what I saw in the mirror. I had finally achieved what many women have not: looking at myself and thinking "yeah, all that hard work has finally paid off." I was walking high on the fence between healthy self-esteem and vanity, and I knew it. I was confident in my balance and was haughtily convinced I would not fall.
So a couple of weeks ago when I received a phone call that a local modeling agency was looking for a mid-thirties female with an athletic build to pose T'ai Chi postures for still photos as well as execute the solo form for a video, and I was the one suggested by my teacher, I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled after speaking with the woman from the agency, who gave the impression that they wanted a "normal person" as opposed to a professional model, and I would be compensated for my time. I sent her a snapshot of myself and everything seemed like it was a go. When I hung up the phone, I could not stop myself from prancing around the house with "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred playing in my mind and striking model-esque poses in front of the mirror.
When a few days passed and I had not heard back from the agency, I began to wonder what was going on. After a full week, I called the lady to find out what time they were expecting me to show and she broke the news to me that they had found a professional model to use instead of me. I politely thanked her, hung up the phone, and BOOM fell hard off the fence, past healthy self-esteem, and back down to low self-esteem. Every negative thought I could have about my looks surged through my mind in about ten seconds: I'm not that pretty. I'm short. My hair is unkempt. I have freckles. I have fair, un-tannable, white-ass skin. I have a gap between my two front teeth. And while these thoughts were stabbing their little daggers in any self-esteem I had left, I was choking back tears and trying to pretend I didn't care when I really did.
The ego was now black and blue, swollen, and didn't much feel like smiling or going anywhere or talking to anyone. She wanted to shrink behind closed blinds under bed covers in the daytime and never let a camera near her again. Lucky for me, I'd been there before and knew the ego could recover, and knew that all the things listed above that perhaps made me not a stunning super model are the things that make me the stunning ME. When I told my ego this (several times, she still needed a bit of convincing), the bruises faded and the bit of healthy self-esteem I had been working so hard on finally began to re-emerge. Had I let my ego get a little too out of control? Probably. But at least she got to fly for little while, even if it meant getting a big swat from the Universe and falling down again.
It is my hope that anyone reading this can look at her or himself in the mirror and see the things that make you a stunning YOU. I don't need to rail on about how boring the world would be if we all looked alike, that is such a cliche argument for unique beauty. Just be true to yourself, be confident in your uniqueness, and the Universe will handle the rest.