Friday, April 15, 2011

Outer Beauty

There are many things that I don’t like about myself. They extend from the vain (my legs, stomach, teeth, skin) to the not-so-vain (my jealousy, impatience, judgmental nature). I say time and time again that I’m going to work on these things. I never really do. I’ll start to work on one of them, then I get bored or I give up, and sometimes give in to temptation to do something completely counterproductive to my goal, like picking at acne when I want to reduce scarring. Duh! That’s the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to do. But it’s a nervous habit that I’ve been trying to quit for the longest time. I actually made it one of my New Years resolutions. Have not been successful thus far. Big surprise. I’ve also been trying to be more patient with people. Sometimes I’ll have to repeat myself several times over the course of days or even weeks when one of my friends forgets certain pieces of information about myself, where I’ve been, etc. It’s not their fault they weren’t there to hear it the first time and it’s not even their fault if they forget it once or twice. I do the same thing and they don’t snap at me for it. So my impatience can be a destructive thing sometimes, to my friends, to myself, my stress level. My impatience and my skin are just two examples of things I’m trying to improve.

This blog is about Health, Wellness, and Beauty. I’ve mostly just been talking about the “wellness” portion, emphasizing my body image issues as well as stress relief and self-esteem in general. Now I’m going to talk about beauty for a bit. Beauty, for me, can be split between inner and outer. They are both important, if not equally so. We should all strive for a realistic, attainable beauty. No. I will never be a stick thin 5’10” green-eyed, blonde bombshell with a perfect tan and perfect teeth. And that’s fine. Do you notice anything wrong with that description? There is nothing there that alludes to personality! You know how in Homer’s epics “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad” the gods have epithets like “wise Athena” and “brave Aries”. I don’t want to be “blonde bombshell” or even “red-headed bombshell”.  I want to be that “feisty red-head” or “hilarious Heather”. I want my epithets to include not only what’s on the outside, but what’s on my insides, too. (And no, I don’t mean my gorgeous intestines or my slightly irritated liver…) Not only do those blonde bombshells, like my good friend Alexandria, have outrageous outer beauty, they’re gorgeous on the inside, too. Everyone is! 

But I kind of went off on a tangent just now. The point I was trying to make is that we should all strive for an attainable outer beauty to match our inner beauty. This entry is about my personal outer beauty. I used to think I was ugly and disgusting and undesirable. But then I got my first boyfriend, Anthony. After that, my whole outlook on my body changed. Someone desires me therefore I must be desirable. It was flawless logic. And to this day, it always makes me feel better knowing that someone thinks I’m sexy and attractive. But at the same time, shouldn’t I think I’m sexy? I shouldn’t depend on someone else to bolster my self-esteem; I should agree with it, too. So I’ve been on this journey, this challenge to turn myself into someone I think is sexy. It became detrimental to my mental health and well-being, because my idea of what I thought was sexy wasn’t attainable for me. So I was chasing this elusive concept of what the perfect Heather would look like. I did lose weight and my skin got a bit better and I tried multiple hair colors. I changed what I wore and how I did my make up. I read more fashion magazines and Internet advice. It became an obsession of mine. And as my outer beauty improve a little bit, I felt my inner beauty diminishing. How interesting could a person be if all they think about are their looks?! Honestly! And Anthony would remind me time and time again that he’s not with those beautiful bimbos for a reason! All they think about is fashion and makeup and how many calories they’ve had today. So not attractive. It’s took me a long time to realize what I was becoming. It really hit me at the very point where I was on the verge of starving myself or even trying to “expel” the food I ate in some way or another when I saw how far I’d let myself spiral into this obsession. Of course, Anthony hasn’t given up on me. He sees that I’m struggling and is always there to help me or pick me back up if I relapse, which I haven’t done so far. I’m very thankful to him and to all of the people in my support network here at school and at home or even in Oklahoma (Love you Elisabeth!).
So it’s been a journey. Now, I’m here, trying to improve my inner beauty and striving to be the most beautiful on the outside that it’s possible for me to be. Guess what? I discovered the secret to success! It’s so obvious yet it’s easier said than done. Want to know what it is? CONSISTENCY!!! Yeah! I know I’m an idiot for it to take this long for me to realize this, but it has finally sunk in. Especially with skin problems, it’s so necessary to be consistent. Earlier in the week I started being more consistent with my skin care routine. I’ve been using Murad’s Exfoliating Acne Treatment gel 1-2 times a day depending on the dryness of my skin and coupling that with SPF 15 moisturizer and washing my face in the morning and night. I’ve been doing this all week, and it’s already started to work! What do you know? Also, I’ve actually been wearing my retainer at night all week, and using mouthwash and flossing daily! Did you read that correctly? FLOSSING! Think back to the last time you flossed your teeth. And if you’re like the rest of us, that was probably around your last dentist appointment. You should try it. It only takes an extra minute and you’d be surprised at how much cleaner your teeth feel afterwards, and how much nasty plaque accumulates after just one day! Mouthwash also feels surprisingly good. I’ve started looking forward to it. Yes, I realize that I’m an odd duck for that. The point is that I’ve actually been trying. If I want to look a certain way (and know that it’s attainable), I have to work at it. No one else is going to do it for me.

As for my current body image, I had a really awesome experience today, a couple of them actually. First, I wore a fitted t-shirt that I haven’t worn since my junior year of high school. It’s been almost four years since then. I only kept it for sentimental value. (It’s from when I went to New York City and saw Wicked on Broadway.) When I first bought it, it fit kind of tightly around my stomach and arms. Then it shrunk in the wash and barely fit me after that. I put it on today and it is significantly loose around the waste and fits my arms perfectly, not to mention my chest area. It was exhilarating to have tangible evidence that I’d lose weight and toned up. I was having an ok day before and it immediately became a great one. Also, I just got back from a Hip Hop Cardio class. I went to it for an assignment for my aerobics class. We were supposed to try a new type a cardio and see how our body responded. I think the point was that it was supposed to make us more tired to do something we’d never done before, but it was surprisingly easy for me. I barely broke a sweat. So that was also super exciting to know that not only am I fitter than I was in high school, or even just last year, but my body is versatile and easily adapts to new workouts.

In conclusion: Strive for attainable beauty inside and out. Consistency will get you results. FLOSS! And don’t forget to celebrate the little things!

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