Let's not do that.
Instead, I'm coming right out with it...... the best kept beauty secret is this: the more beauty you see around you, the more beautiful you become.
What do we mean?
Our upcoming POSE event explores this idea in full; here’s the inside story on what it’s all about.
On a surface level, if you surround yourself with flowers, nice pictures, pleasant experiences, these contribute to making you a happier, more content person, and that will certainly help you to feel good about yourself. It might even make you more beautiful.
Imagine having coffee with two strangers. Neither is especially attractive or would be picked out of a crowd as the 'beautiful one.' They both talk about their day and the things that are on their mind. One focusses conversation around things they find difficult, ways that they struggle, or just what bad luck they had this morning on the way to work in the rain, being splashed by a big truck passing by.
The other notices the fresh flowers in the vase and smells them; comments on the cute baby playing (making a raucous?) on the floor; tells the mother that he looks so happy (although she looks knackered); notices the scarf you're wearing and tells you it compliments your eyes; holds the door for an elderly man coming into the cafe and gives him a warm smile.
It's not hard to know which of these people is more attractive and beautiful, regardless of their physical appearance.
In large part, the beauty we are talking about results from an inward-looking vs. outward-looking mentality. Inward looking people often need validation from those outside them – people to commiserate with, confide in, and to praise their good qualities and reassure them that they are good or attractive or 'ok' in themselves.
Remember our two ways of defining beauty from our last article? (Read the full version here.)
- we judge our beauty based on what we expect others see and pay attention to
- we define for ourselves what is attractive
The first is inward-looking. We are trying to stand outside ourselves, looking back on ourselves and trying to see ourselves as other see us, and then we judge ourselves. The problem is that we usually judge ourselves in the harshest possible light, which is both inaccurate and also mentally unhealthy. Just stop and think for a moment how exhausting it must be to constantly be trying to inhabit the space outside your own body in order to check if you are doing ok in the world.
The second allows a more outward-looking perspective. It starts from a more stable place, staying rooted in your own personhood in space and time. Starting with You. From this vantage point, you can look outward. It's like you are on a mountain top and can see into the distance rather than just what is in front of you. You are able to be true to your own perspective. You notice what is truly unattractive (like spiteful words said by an otherwise physically attractive person), and you notice what is beautiful (like the smile on the face of someone who wants good things to happen to you).
We've had quite an extended conversation in the team this week about how to cultivate an outward-looking, beauty-seeking mentality – it's not super easy! Here are three things you need to know:
1. Self-acceptance is key. First, get grounded into yourself so that you have a vantage point to look out from. If you constantly compare yourself to others, it's hard to measure up to the standard you are setting for yourself. If you decide only ever to compare yourself to yourself, your only goal translates into becoming a better version of You. And that is a goal that is achievable and within your power!
2. It's a chicken and egg thing. The more you can retrain yourself to focus outward and look for the beauty around you, the more you will see. The more you see and focus on these things, the more they change you into a beautiful person. Practicing acceptance of others just as they are will have a powerful effect on your ability to accept yourself as you are too.
3. Find a model. You can accelerate the process by spending time with people who model this behaviour well. Do you know someone who seems really comfortable in their own skin? Who is complimentary to others? Who enjoys noticing small pleasures? Who makes you feel good about yourself when you spend time with them? Mirror their behaviour and spend time with them. It takes time to develop this skill, but it is an amazing way to walk through this world and creates connections to people which enhance their beauty too.
And this is the secret not only to beauty, but to being a model in front of the camera. Models must of course prepare and be concerned with their physical appearance in order to be ready for the shoot. But much more importantly, they must practice being comfortable in their own skin, willing to be seen exactly as they are, unflinching in the face of onlookers, and willing to be vulnerable.
If you'd like a crash course on how to develop self-acceptance and beauty, and want the opportunity to work with a beautiful model (who is both a catwalk model, and a model of the outward-looking mentality), you are in luck...
Sign up here for our POSE: Photoshoot on Self-Esteem event. It could just change your life and make you a more beautiful person. (Ok, so I said I wasn't going to make promises about changing you life.... but this is a lot better than selling you shampoo, isn't it?)
If you can't come or you missed it, SUBSCRIBE to our email list so you'll know about it for next time.
Heidi is a writer and editor who uses storytelling and journalistic tools to create great messages that make the world a better place.
Contact her on writerwithboots [at] gmail.com