This week, I asked 20 women to answer three questions about their self-love, confidence and beauty. My initial idea was to translate through real women how the idea of worth and beauty evolves throughout our lifetime. The transparency in their answers have astounded me, so much so that I delayed sharing them so I could have time to process my own response. I learned and realized that regardless of age women feel beautiful and ugly in different seasons and often feel both at the same time. I learned that we are always growing and improving our self-love, that there’s never “that age” where we made it and get to stop being better women. And I learned that the women in my life are incredible. Absolutely incredible. These quotes came from family, friends, colleagues and even a client. I feel honored that they would share these parts of their soul with me, and I don’t want to take the women in my life for granted. Thank you, ladies for your vulnerability, honesty and acceptance of “what is” today.
“What I love most about myself in my ____’s (insert decade) is_____”
“The quality I love most about myself is _______”
Do you feel beautiful? Why or why not? Describe.
“What I love most about myself in my 20’s is my comfort level in who I am as a person and the confidence I have to be unapologetically myself. The quality I love most about myself is my steadfast loyalty to those I care about. Whether or not I feel beautiful depends on the day. Some days I think that I look beautiful with no makeup and a pony tail while other days it doesn’t matter how much makeup I have on or how I do my hair I am not happy with how I look.” Age: 21
“What I love most about myself in my 20’s is my independence. The quality I love most about myself is my brash honesty. I feel unconventionally beautiful — and I wouldn’t have it any other way” Age: 24
“What I love about myself in my 20’s is my ability to appreciate the present moment, to take risks and to reach my immediate goals. The quality I love most about myself is putting others first. I feel beautiful because I am loved and was created by an amazing God. I am surrounded by family and friends who encourage me to become better and brighter. And I have learned to be more accepting of myself and proud of who I am both internally and externally.” Age: 27
“What I love most about myself in my 20’s is my ability to adapt to different life changes, and my ability (and willingness) to observe and learn from women who are older than I am – learn from their mistakes, know that their light at the end of the tunnel, we all are the same inside, and we are essentially strong, capable and resilient individuals. The quality I love most about myself is my patience and ability to accept many types of people/perspectives. I feel that I have a beautiful soul, but I have never thought of myself as beautiful. But on the other hand, I’ve never struggled with thoughts that I’m ugly, unattractive or unwanted, either.” Age: 29
“What I love the most about myself in my 20’s is that I’m passionately in love with God! That I am courageous in knowing my true self, vulnerability and being authenticity. The quality I love most about myself is that I have a passion and drive for life! I get excited about the smallest things that I can celebrate the joys of life and that I have a light, energy and a love for people. I love that I’m caring, compassionate and love to meet and build great positive relationships with world shakers, history maker and risk takers! I know intuitively that beauty is more than skin deep, beauty is how you love, appreciate, live, and grow, express creativity and just be. Beauty is within that shines through.” Age: 29
“What I love most about myself in my 30’s is that I’m becoming better at dealing with my problems, which is leading to more fulfilling relationships. The quality I love most about myself is my adventurous spirit. Beauty has always been a strange thing for me. When I think of being a beautiful woman I have never considered a person’s body or face, I have always considered the behavior and mannerisms that stereotype women – the makeup, how they dress, the way they gossip, the activities that interest them, and I have always felt outside of those things as they don’t interest me. I have been told I am beautiful by other people and it’s not that I don’t think I’m beautiful, it’s that I don’t find much value in it. I have known some very ugly people who have done amazing things, so to me, deciding if I am beautiful or not is more of a statement than a way I feel about myself.” Age: 30
“What I love most about myself in my 30’s is acceptance and love for who I am, beautiful flaws and all. The quality I love most about myself is my heart- I love helping people and try to be compassionate, understanding and kind to everyone I meet. Don’t get me wrong, I fail all the time but it’s important to me that I keep trying! I do feel beautiful, which has been a lifelong journey, and battle. There’s always been some reason for me to not feel beautiful- I’m too fat, too short, I broke out, whatever- but as I get to know myself better and accept myself for who I am right now, I realize how beautiful I am- especially on the inside. I’ve found as I get older, inner beauty is much more important to me!” Age: 37
“What I love about myself in my 30’s is my confidence. The quality I love most about myself is my outgoing personality. I do feel beautiful even though I am overweight/chubby. I carry myself professionally and I dress the body I have. I would love to have my younger, skinny body but I am happy with where I am now emotionally.” Age: 38
“What I love most about myself in my 40’s is my capacity to not own others’ projections of what makes a “good life”. I am proud of myself for learning the flexibility to maintain this perspective and be empathetic as it has been a long windy road to this personal truth. The quality I love most about myself is my capacity to accept where I am in space and time and where the people I love and care about are in space and time. When I do this, I can truly love and hear my peeps. And finally realizing that chasing perfection has kept me from living authentically and with the infinite grace we all can possess. I feel most beautiful when I am in sync with the ones I care about. I do catch myself doubting me and I am guilty of finding fault with myself at times. The irony is I know better since I teach women to love the skin and body they are in. My beauty and grace return when I step back into myself and actively practice the self-care I advocate in my business.” Age 41
“What I love most about myself in my 40’s: 1) My ability to forgive and not hold a grudge or resentment (with the exception of my ex, which I am working on, haha); 2) to allow people the freedom to have their own opinion and to not always have to be right; 3) that I waited till later in life to have kids – it has made me a better mom and allowed me to create a career that I’m proud of; and 4) that I am surrounded by friends that love me for exactly what I am and not what I can offer them. The quality I love most about myself is my positive attitude (despite the shit storm of 2014). Positivity has prevented me from dying, I am sure. It keeps me grounded and I am reminded of it every morning when I look at my kids. If I’m not positive around them and teach them to be the best people possible, then I am not doing my due diligence as a parent. (Question):Do you feel beautiful? On the inside – Yes, absolutely. On the outside – NO, not even sometimes. I know the events that led me to gain the weight that I have, and hate how I’ve just held on to it. I feel it’s the one area in my life that’s been a failure, and no matter what I try I’m unable to fix it. It’s a flaw that all can see, and it’s too bad the outside is so damn important.” “44-years-young”
What I love the most about myself in my 40’s is that I’m me and can stand up for what I believe in. The quality I love the most is my courage to step out of my comfort zone. I do feel beautiful most days, inside and outside. I have not always felt that way however I have learned to accept how I look and be grateful what God gave me.” Age: 45
“What I love most about myself in my 40’s is that my life is made up of what is important most to me, like watching my kids do what they love (sports), going to the gym & spending time with friends, or not. I love that what I do is on my terms, not because I have to. The quality that I love most about myself is that I thrive on what is different about me; I don’t have to be like anyone else and fit in. I find I’m most happy and fulfilled when I beat to my own drum. Beauty now is not what I thought it was when I was 25. I look back on pictures of myself when I was younger, size 2, working out 6 days a week and still thought I should look better. Oh my gosh, I was so dumb. Now, I want to look good, but to me beauty is feeling strong, confident, fearless. Beauty is not worrying about what I look like. It’s crinkles around my eyes from laughing, sparkling eyes because I felt deep enough to cry. And doing some things that scare me (in a good way) like a half marathon or a Cross Fit competition.” Age: 47
“What I love about myself in my 40’s is a greater acceptance of myself. I remember those years in high school not wanting to leave the house because I had a blemish on my face (one). Now, I accept that these things happen. There is less anxiety around the little things. The quality I love most about myself is my authenticity. It’s the thing I get complimented on the most and I appreciate that it’s true without even thinking about it, which I guess is why it’s true. It’s not even the “what you see is what you get” attitude. It’s more about not having a mask on, wanting to connect as I am with others as who they are. Not always an easy equation. Feeling beautiful? Not an easy answer. I have moments and times where I feel attractive, which is a different word than beautiful. I sense that people are drawn to me for one reason or another. It may be because I look good, but it may be because of my energy and my looks mixed together. I think being beautiful alone without good energy can be off-putting if the woman is cold and aloof. The reasons I don’t feel beautiful usually is because I see myself without makeup in a picture or in a mirror and I realize that although sometimes I think in my head I look ok without makeup, it’s really helpful to define features of your face. Otherwise, I just look completely washed out.” Age: 49
“What I love about myself in my 50’s is I have a voice, my perspective holds value. The quality I love most about myself is forgiveness (it’s always been difficult for me to carry a grudge). I do feel beautiful. Acceptance of the aging process can be a challenge, however, I think I’m pretty neat inside and out.” Age: 50
“What I love about myself in my 50’s is that I have a clearer understanding of what is really important to me, and what I can let go of. The quality I love most about myself is I have an easy laugh – able to see humor in things. At the moment I don’t feel beautiful. I feel weighed down by heavy situations in my life and the people closest to me. Makes me feel old, tired, spent. I’m pouring all my energy into helping my family and as a result, I’m not spending the time I need to feel good, beautiful or strong. The good news is that I’ve recognized I can’t help others if I’m spent, so I’m starting to work on myself, and that actually feels more hopeful than pouring so much of myself into others that I’m completely empty.” Age: 50
“What I love about myself in my 60s is that I have time for myself – finally, after raising three boys! In addition, I can use my time and resources to help others. The quality I love most about myself is encouraging others to live their lives to the fullest. And, I do feel beautiful! More than anything else, I feel beautiful inside. Though outwardly I am showing my age, I am at peace and feel blessed that God has given me so much to be thankful for. Throughout my 30-50’s, I found myself busy with life – being a wife, a mom, working sometimes, raising a family, homeschooling, extracurricular activities for the kids, etc. My life was like a treadmill! But now that I have adult children, I have more time for reflection, serving, and enjoying time with my husband. The old saying is true, “There is light at the end of the tunnel!” Whatever stage of life I am in, I count it all joy. One of my mom’s most familiar quote was, “Life moves fast as you get older”! There is no greater joy than to enjoy the moment I am in now. Many ‘kudos’ to the sixties!” Age: 60
“What I love most about myself in my 60’s is that I am not so concerned about other people’s opinion of me as I once was and that I feel free to express my opinions more often. The quality I love most about myself is my kindness. I don’t feel beautiful all of the time, only when I take the time to fix my hair and put on make-up. Because it is a lot more work to look good as you age! That’s on the outside. If you mean on the inside, yes I feel beautiful because I feel I treat people with kindness, respect and tolerance. I can feel good about that!” Age: 63
“What I love most about me is my continuing sense of wonder and awe, and indestructible optimism. Being a very visual person, I don’t see myself as beautiful on the outside, but am very contented with myself on the inside, loving who I am, and occasionally not loving what I do. My daughter-in-law recently saw my old wedding photos and said, “you WERE SO PRETTY” … and it stung a little. Now I have many kids who call me Grandma. Some are mine and some have adopted me. That’s a beautiful thing!” No age reported.