From the Golden Ratio calculator to perfectly packaged wrinkle creams, cellulite smoothers and infomercial belly busters, there’s a beauty marathon many are trying to run, but can never win.
Keeping up with an unrealistic benchmark of beauty, most often created through clever photography and digital manipulation in order to sell products, is usually a futile goal that can result in frustration, lowered self-esteem and an exhausted bank balance.
Australians spend more than $8 billion on beauty products and more than $10 billion on personal-care items and treatments annually, according to a report compiled by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Yet despite the hefty price tags on our pursuit to fit society’s beauty mold, most only experience a temporary boost of inner confidence in their outer visage.
In The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body, actress, and now author, Cameron Diaz says it’s time women look within to discover and embrace their spark of individuality and foster their inner strength.
“Unfortunately, as women, we are constantly being pressured about being more beautiful, about being thinner, about looking younger, or sexier, or blonder, or more brunette,” she says. “As women in today’s society, we are encouraged to compare ourselves to other women when what we need to do is focus on our own strengths, our own capabilities, our own beauty.”
According to many holistic health coaches and spiritual teachers, true beauty is only obtainable from within. This also means living in tune with nature—hydrating regularly, eating nutritious foods and moving the body as it was designed to do. Daily exercise, coupled with good nutrition, not only burns body fat, but it is also essential for healthy thinking.
As women in today’s society, we are encouraged to compare ourselves to other women when what we need to do is focus on our own strengths, our own capabilities, our own beauty
Every choice we make, from the words we speak and the thoughts we think, to what we eat and what we choose to put on our bodies creates true beauty, from the inside out.
Real Beauty Rituals
Whether you choose to do it in the morning, while parked at the traffic lights or at night in the bathroom mirror, looking yourself in the eye and telling yourself you love yourself is a powerful yet simple action that can change your life for the better. Once we accept ourselves and send love to every part of us, a shift within begins to happen. We stop beating ourselves up for the imperfections we may have otherwise seen. Start on the body part that you feel most negatively about. Send it love directly from your heart. Then look into your own eyes and tell yourself you love you and how grateful you are for you. It may feel uncomfortable to completely awkward at first, but the benefits of doing this little exercise is immeasurable. Just ask self-help visionary Louise Hay who makes this same ritual part of her every day.
WRITE YOURSELF A LOVE NOTE
Writing down the things you like (and love!) about yourself and your achievements can work wonders for self-esteem. Keep the note in a special book or post it on the bathroom mirror—somewhere you can refer to it often and be reminded of how absolutely-without-a-doubt special you are!
Being grateful for all the good in your life is a sure-fire way to bring your spirits up and put more positive energy out. Gratitude is one of the most important steps to self-acceptance and self-love. Start first thing in the morning as you wake up. Before your feet hit the bedroom floor, run through a thank you list, whether it’s for your partner lying next to you, the comfortable pillow you slept on, or even for the day that is about to happen.
Our breath is our life force and connection to the universe. A shallow breath creates stagnation of body, mind and spirit. When we forget to breathe, we shut off our potential for great things. We lose all-important oxygen to the brain, organs and cells, which is much needed to live a life of fullness. Yoga, walking and meditation are all wonderful ways to bring back the breath.
What are your beliefs? Do you believe you’re worthy? While it can initially seem like a negative exercise, write down everything negative you believe about yourself. Then, turn each into a positive affirmation, recording each and playing them back to yourself as you walk, drive in the car and before you go to sleep. Then, burn the list of negative beliefs, with the intention of releasing the thoughts and feelings associated with each.
Most of us don’t take enough time for ourselves. Run a bath. Burn some candles. Whatever it is that makes you feel special that you can do yourself, make time to do it. Even if it’s once a week, this little self-love ritual can melt away stress and make you a happier, healthier person who’s so much more fun to be with.
STOP REACHING FOR PERFECTION
Perfection is the killer of creativity and the cause of many a tight shoulder muscle. Leave perfectionism at the door and share your talents with the world, no matter if the t’s aren’t crossed and the i’s aren’t dotted. Share your love, and the love of yourself, with the world and the world will love you right back. Life is too short to leave your dreams to chance.
SAY BYE TO COMPLAINING AND LIGHTEN UP
Isn’t it interesting how we’ve become a stress-fuelled society that takes everything so seriously. What would happen if we decided to stop complaining about this or that and chose to laugh about it instead? Not only would problems dissolve, you’d actually start to feel lighter, more in love with life and more in love with yourself. The best way to get started? Switch off the television (and especially the negative “news” programs) and become conscious of your thoughts, replacing the nagging negative ones with something more positive. Also, it’s important not to beat yourself up when you catch yourself in mid-negative. Simply dismiss it and pop in the happier alternative.