As you likely have also noticed, there has been much media and discussion focusing on issues of self-esteem, body image, and all manner of topics along that vein. I have been finding much of it has a negative undertone in that they focus on the problems and issues that result from one having poor self-esteem and a lack of self-worth. Much along the same lines as “evil begets evil,” I have found that focusing on the negative aspects of these issues has a counter-productive effect and results simply in more negativity. People become more focused, instead of less, on what’s wrong with them and go into a kind of manic panic toward self-improvement which may seem positive on the surface, but in fact has some very ugly and negative emotions and motivating factors underlying their efforts.
Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a project with two very dear friends of mine which involved us having an open and earnest discussion on the topic of what, exactly, is beauty. It came about one day as my friend S and I were chatting as we quite often do about our own struggles with beauty and self-acceptance. As our discussions normally go, it became quite long and drawn out and evolved ever further. So, as S had been struggling somewhat with finding things that she found beautiful about herself, I decided to help by listing the things which I found beautiful about her. At first, the list started with physical characteristics. She has, for instance, the most irritatingly and perfectly dimensioned nose. But, the list quickly grew to other things which are far less tangible but which are still uniquely her own. Her ability, for instance, to see the humour in her daily battle with MS.
And so, S continued with her research and that’s how we became involved with @UnsungLilly and their #JustBe Campaign. The question then was “how” to participate. @UnsungLilly explained that they were creating a campaign to promote self-acceptance among the masses, be they young or old, male or female, from every walk of life. We then recruited our friend T to join us and one night we all got together and started video-recording our thoughts and discussions on what we believed defined “beauty” and “self-acceptance.”
Through this exercise, we each had our own revelations. I will share only my own as S and T have their own blogs and will, if not already, be sharing those insights in their own inimitable ways. For myself, I can say simply that the simple exercise of discussing this with two friends, through the vessel of @UnsungLilly and the #JustBe Campaign, has altered my own take on my personal definitions of beauty and self-acceptance and I can honestly say that I am deeply affected and forever changed for the better.
Like most people, there are things about my physical self which I always saw as negatives. After bouncing these things off a few close friends like S and T, I can see now that those negatives are not negatives at all, but the things that define me as an individual. My ethnic background is primarily Scottish and Inuit. I have, therefore, a very large and sturdy body which in the past caused me dismay as it does not fit the “normal” size charts and clothing and thus, I automatically turned this into a negative as I had been convinced by society and media that if you did not conform then you were somehow less than perfect. But now, I finally realize as I approach my 44th year, my body has not once broken a bone larger than a toe, despite the best efforts of my childhood adventures. I have never suffered a major illness, either. I have by all accounts a rather wicked sense of humour and a very large laugh which comes from somewhere very deep. While I tend not to dwell on any of these attributes in any way, I have been told that they make me unique and attractive and so rather than feeling that I should tone down my laugh, or reserve my humour, I now simply embrace them for the things they are and don’t wish to change them in any way. There’s not another one like me, and I’m fine with that. So, I have resolved to simply… #JustBe.
To learn more about the #JustBe Campaign, check out @UnsungLilly on Twitter and elsewhere. Their first video (in which I am honoured to be a part) can also be viewed at justbecampaign.com