the true meaning of beauty is who you are not what you look like

Have you suffered from beauty envy? I have lots of time, when I was a teen I starved myself trying to look like a waif, I wanted to be flat chested with XS size clothes floating around my body, needless to say, I hardly managed even subsiding on an apple for lunch and cigarettes. I was hungry!

When I finally accepted that I would never look like Jane Birkin, I was still convinced I would attract all the love I wanted if only I would loose10kg, would be blonder, fitter, slimmer with a tan. It’s quite easy to lose weight in your twenties, (the price you have to pay later less so!…), I’ve spent a more than two decades with my weight yo-yoing, between 5-10 kg, constantly obsessed by losing weight and worrying about everything I was putting in my mouth each time I sat at the dinner table. It was mad.

It’s when you look at pictures from your 20s, that you realise how beautiful you were and understand how many years you’ve lost, not loving yourself, always wanting to look like the friend who attracted all the attention, unhappy in your skin.

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I will tell a secret, I realise now that these friends I wanted to look like where attractive not because they were beautiful but because they felt terrific in their skin, confident to go out there into the world whatever others were thinking of them.

I wish it didn’t take me so long to realise that I was beautiful in my way, I will never be a model or a celebrity but I’m unique, and this is something to celebrate in its own right.

So however old you are, celebrate YOU now, this moment in time, your face, your body, stop comparing yourself and enjoy your gifts. You can always think that life would be so much better if you looked like Penelope Cruz, but you’re not Penelope, so who cares because Penelope will never be you and have the gifts that life has given you.

Five years ago I worked on a photography project with women who served during WWII, these women were in their early 90s and taught me a wonderful lesson. They looked beautiful, you know why? Because they had stopped comparing themselves, they accepted who they were, despite thinking about being too old to be photographed, they felt proud of their life and confident in front of the camera.

Make a promise to yourself for 2019, stop comparing yourself, feeling the envy, focusing on what you don’t have or don’t look like and treasure everything you have. Build self-love from the inside out, from the amazing things you’ve done in life. i.e. raising babies, walking the Camino, climbing the career ladder, volunteering, make a list, and you will be surprised. Look at yourself with new eyes.

I can tell you, life wouldn’t be different if you looked like Penelope Cruz, to shine on the outside you first need to feed the fire from the inside, beaming with love, and believe that whatever happens you’ve got this!

 
Happiness and confidence are the prettiest things you can wear
— Taylor Swift
 

What will you do in 2019 to stop comparing yourself, and exude confidence?

Rachel xx