It has happened again. Another friend of mine has tagged me in a social media chain challenging me to post five pictures of myself where I feel beautiful. I love the sentiment behind the trend but I realized, after seeing other women’s pictures, that we are so much more than beautiful. I watched as my friends posted pictures of themselves at graduation ceremonies, in the delivery room, at the end of a marathon, and I thought, “Wow. They are powerful. Brave. Intelligent. Hilarious.” But the only word that we can find to describe them is beautiful.
Now, before you dismiss me as another angry, hairy-legged, feminist, hippie, hear me out. (OK, fine. My leg hairs currently have split ends, and I am, in fact, all of those things – BUT YOU SHOULD STILL LISTEN TO ME!) I am not calling for a boycott of beauty. Lord knows that I have talked about my need to feel beautiful plenty of times. And I understand the point that many women are trying to make: that intelligence is beauty, that power is beauty, that creativity is beautiful. Sure. But, at what point will we realize that we are sealing our fate as just another pretty face when the only word that we can find to describe our accomplishments and strengths is beautiful?
Ladies, we are all beautiful. Say it with me – We are all beautiful. Please don’t stop telling each other that.
But, I want us to do better. I want us to start telling each other that we are smart, powerful, wise, funny, creative, ground-breaking – without hiding behind the beauty facade. Because we are SO. MUCH. MORE. THAN. BEAUTIFUL.
The trouble is that those more-than-beautiful words are hard for me to find, because they’re just not in my vocabulary. I have spent so many years trying to be comfortable in my skin, and desperately trying to redefine beauty norms that I have neglected what really matters. Sure, it makes me feel good when someone tells me that I am beautiful. But, do you know what happens when someone tells me that I am intelligent, hilarious, compassionate, or strong? I start to believe that I can change the world.
What would happen if we started to tell our girls that they were more than just beautiful?
What could I do right now, if I actually started to believe that I was more than just beautiful?
Here is my challenge to you – to every last one of you. Let’s re-trend this social media chain mail-y thing with this: Share five pictures of yourself that make you proud. Use any adjective besides beautiful. Seriously – any other blasted word. It’s harder than you might think. (Here’s an example, and you can copy it word for word if you like. Tag your friends – do what all the facebooky people are doing – just please don’t let this involve rednecks and cold water):
I am beautiful – and so much more. I am intelligent. I am brave. I am powerful. I am funny. I am talented. Tag, you’re it, powerful women.
*Top: Me at the BlogHer’13 Voices of the Year reception. I didn’t know before then that my words could be powerful. That’s me on the left dressed as a nun, feeling very talented. I was about to sing the title role in Suor Angelica. Lots of high notes. . .very loud, powerful high notes. To the right of the nun picture is me and my brother on graduation day. He was graduating with his Bachelor’s degree, and I with my Master’s degree. I opted out of my graduation to watch him walk, but he let me take a picture with his cap. Bottom left: me rehearsing for the Listen To Your Mother Show. I was scared out of my mind, but when it was over, I felt incredibly brave. Bottom right: that’s me dressed in a bee suit at the office. My co-workers didn’t think I would do it, but I was tired of getting attacked by rogue wasps. We still laugh about that day.
See what I did there?
I am more than beautiful.
Tag, you’re it, powerful women.