“To be able to stand naked (figuratively and literally) and completely vulnerable yet fully secure in oneself is true freedom.” -Candace Thoth

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On a philosophical level it’s easy to say we are not our hair, our bodies or our skin but the society we live in reinforces a different message. According to our society, not only does our physical appearance have significant implications, it is also ranked based on standards of a supposed ideal image of beauty. Internalizing society’s messages about beauty can create significant distress and anxiety regardless of whether you fit the ideal description of attractiveness.

Most of the individuals I have worked with have had challenges related to their physical appearance. I too have had my difficulties. For many years, I struggled to leave the house without makeup. When going to the gym or the grocery store, I always made sure to put on makeup. I wanted to hide the discoloration on my face and all other marks I deemed as imperfections. I was aware that the makeup was clogging my pores and creating more acne but I didn’t care, I didn’t want anyone to see what was underneath the mask. The compliments I got from people made it even more challenging to let go of wearing makeup. I was attached to the mask and false image I created.

After deep self-exploration, I gained understanding of the personal meaning around hiding behind makeup. In August, after I decided to cut my hair as a symbol of liberation from my hair, I also found myself no longer wanting or even feeling like I needed to wear makeup. I no longer needed to hide. These past few months are the first time since my pre-teen years that I feel fully secure in how I look naturally but perhaps more importantly with who I am at the core. Now, more often than not I find myself freely leaving the house sans makeup and when I do wear makeup it’s for fun not to hide. I am free!

Embracing our natural physical appearance may be challenging but it is on the path to freedom. Exploring the barriers that prevent us from appreciating our physical appearance may guide us to the deeper conflicts going on underneath the surface. Additionally, as we each begin to move towards acceptance, we can create a society in which everyone feels beautiful. I do not feel it is sufficient to minimize our physical appearance by emphasizing that we are spirits, instead I propose that we honor and celebrate physical appearance in all of its unique expressions.

Self-Reflective Questions:

  • What are your beliefs about physical appearance? (e.g., is physical appearance important, what are the implications of physical appearance, etc)
  • When did you develop these aforementioned beliefs about physical appearance?
  • What is the source of your beliefs about physical appearance?  (e.g., television, magazines, parents, friends, etc)
  • How much does your own physical appearance impact your thoughts/feelings about yourself?
  • How do your thoughts about your physical appearance impact your actions and activities?
  • How are your thoughts about your physical appearance related to other areas in your life? (e.g., for me, wearing makeup was a way to hide which I later discovered I was doing in other areas of my life)
  • How much time do you allocate towards worrying/thinking about your physical appearance?
  • When was the last time you felt truly comfortable with your physical appearance?
  • What barriers interfere with accepting your physical appearance?
  • How would your life be different if you embraced your physical appearance?
  • What are some ways to increase your comfort and acceptance of your physical appearance?

Mahalo for reading! May we all experience infinite peace and blessings~