• Mandy Raff

I am beautiful now and always

That's right, it's true! And so are you.

I believe the word ‘beautiful’ has been hijacked for profit for far too long. It’s been used and abused by the fashion, cosmetics and weight-loss industries and all those businesses that rely on us feeling somehow less than beautiful to make their money. You know the ones. They bombard us with unrealistic computer-edited images of the apparently perfect face/body/hair etc. They feed on our insecurities, rely on us comparing ourselves to others and encourage us to do everything we can to look ever younger and thinner. Because that’s going to make us happy, right?

OK, so I know that sounds very cynical and I really don’t want to get caught up in cynical talk. However, it’s important to realise where many of our perceptions come from and to acknowledge the impact of a consumer-driven society on our self-image and belief systems. It’s right to question the validity of many of the messages we receive as women in western society and how these shape our lives. How did it get to the point where even very young women feel the need to distort their faces and bodies so drastically with surgery? Why are women so often judged on their appearance first, rather than their accomplishments? And why do so many women never feel they will look good enough or be good enough?

I’d like to help women form a completely different feeling about the word ‘beautiful’. I want them to grab it with both hands and embrace it. Hug it, hold it tight, feel it drift into their soul and never let it go. Because that’s where it belongs – as the way we feel about ourselves always. Even on those days when we look in the mirror and discover a few wrinkles we can’t remember being there before. Even on those days when our tummy feels bloated and our jeans feel too tight. When we’re having a bad hair day. When we realise we’ve gained 10 years in age without quite understanding where those 10 years went (I’ve given up looking for them – they really have gone!) Let’s face it, we all have days like that.

Beautiful, to me, encompasses the whole person – body, mind and soul. It can’t be rated in comparison to others, as each of us are completely unique beings with our own set of beautiful gifts and physical traits. None of us are standard issue – thank goodness for that. Beauty doesn’t diminish with age – don’t let anyone tell you differently! And it isn’t defined by images in a magazine or other media.

How wonderful to look at yourself and truly accept yourself as the beautiful woman you are. How amazing to stop admonishing yourself for being less than someone else’s idea of perfect. It took me 50 years to get to that place and I really don’t want anyone else to waste so much time. This is what I believe now...

I was born beautiful, I am beautiful now and I will always be beautiful.

Why would I think any less of myself? It’s not an ego thing. I’m not ‘full of myself’. I’m full of love and respect for the person that I am right now and for the body that’s wrapped around that person, doing the best it can to keep me going. Not for the person I might be if I lose 5 kilos. Not for the person I might be if I start running 10km a day. Or the person who stops drinking coffee (never going to happen) or reads a book a week (working on it). Sure I might have goals re personal development, but I can truly say that I am beautiful right now, I feel beautiful right now and that’s how I’d like you to feel too.

If you don’t feel beautiful, it's possible to make changes today that will help. Try one or more of the following simple ideas and step onto the path to finding beautiful. You can do it – I believe in you. Start small and the change will grow!

  1. Say something kind to yourself, about yourself. Even if you don’t fully believe it yet. Try to say it every day. It could be about your wonderful physical self or anything else that you feel good about or want to feel good about. Keep it simple like - I love my hair; I have great legs; my smile is amazing; I have a brilliant mind; I’m a great friend, tennis player, scientist; I cook fabulous meals; I totally ace work, school, study…you get the drift.

  2. Say something kind to someone else. I’m sure you do this already without even thinking about it. Give a female friend or a random female stranger a compliment. A genuine compliment. Take note of their reaction. Did you help them find their own beautiful? Spread the love!

  3. Do something fun! Something that makes you smile and laugh and connects you with your inner child. Be ridiculous or just be happy in the moment. I know you’re busy, but having some fun doesn’t have to take long, or cost much. Build a sandcastle, dance under the sprinkler or see a funny movie with your friends. Whatever does it for you.

  4. Make yourself an amazing healthful meal. Pile in all the good stuff – fresh vegies and herbs, nuts and seeds, some yummy protein. Get creative or get a great recipe. Fuel that beautiful body and brain of yours. You deserve to feel fabulous and what goes into your body plays a big part in that.

And don’t forget, you are beautiful now and always.

#bodyimage #loveyourself #feelbeautiful