Scars to Your Beautiful: We Are All Beautiful in Our Own Way

I have been hearing “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara a lot when I’m in my car. And once I hear it, it keeps repeating in my head over and over and over all day long. I’ve been wanting to blog about this but the election side-tracked this until now.  I decided tonight that I had to blog about something positive and meaningful, what with all of the negativity and disappointment arising from the election results.

For the first time, I watched the video with the lyrics so I could get my arms around the words. And then I watched the official video that stars a diverse group of individuals of all different ages, both women and men, some with visible (a man with a disfigured ear, a woman with an abdominal scar) and some with invisible scars (depression?). There’s a girl with alopecia (the disease that prevents hair growth), a woman with cancer, a transgender model, and even the singer JoJo. And many more.

The first part of the song before the chorus comes in is all about society’s perception of beauty–face and body beautiful enough to be sculpted–that causes body image issues. Society, after all, over emphasizes the thin beauties that grace the covers of magazines to the point that individuals are blind to any other beauty that lies within an individual. This societal obsession of outward beauty causes deep pain and body image issues that can manifest as eating disorders, depression, cutting, etc.  These issues are not visible to the observer, but they are there.  A new mother having difficulty returning to her pre-pregnancy weight and figure (celebrities who brag about their quick returns to pre-pregnancy looks don’t help at all) may suffer body image issues that can lead to postpartum depression. Please click here and here for previous posts about this.

What Alessia wants to remind us all is that you don’t have to be beautiful on the outside to be beautiful.  You can have a beautiful, loving and generous heart which will glow from inside out, and the impression that gives people is more meaningful, more memorable, and more beautiful than the person whose beauty is only skin deep.

The chorus of the song repeats several times throughout the song (and this is the part that keeps repeating in my head over and over again…perhaps my mind is telling me something, I don’t know) reminding us that we’re beautiful just the way we are and we shouldn’t have to change anything. The world should change the way we see beauty in people.

You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing
The world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Alessia so sagely writes at the end of her video:

Often times, the world both directly and indirectly
tells us that we shouldn’t be happy with ourselves
if we don’t fit certain beauty standards.
Scars to your beautiful is a reminder that beauty isn’t only
one look, shape, size, or colour. It isn’t even always tangible.
It comes in an endless amount of forms
and we need to recognize that.”

Thank you, Alessia, for sharing your talent of music writing, your amazing voice, this video, the message contained in the words of this song and video, and your reminder that we are all beautiful in our own way(s).

But I will go beyond Alessia’s lyrics and say that just because someone is beautiful on the outside does not mean they are beautiful inside. Sometimes the darkness within–hate, jealousy, prejudice, etc.–breaks through that outward beauty and cancels it out, preventing others from seeing the beauty that is only skin deep.

Watch this video. Listen to the music. Never mind any negative thoughts that your mind may be telling you. Never mind any negative thoughts that others may be telling you. Forget the bullies on social media.  Forget the haters.

You are beautiful, and don’t you forget that.

Your Voice is Yours – Don’t Ever Let Anyone Take That Away from You

Standing up for principle–and standing up for yourself– is important, especially if you know you don’t deserve someone’s negative comments and/or behavior.  All my life I’ve been about principle.  All my life I’ve had difficulty in standing up for myself, mainly because I’m not witty enough to come up with a response, rebuttal–or what have you– on a dime.  But as I mentioned in my recent Brave post, I’m getting better at it!

Ever get backed into a corner with people accusing you of things that just aren’t true?  Constructive feedback is one thing, but false accusations are completely different….and needless to say, bad.  Period.  And in response to false accusations, you absolutely MUST be able to defend yourself.  If you are ever judged or accused of anything wrongly–whatever circumstance this may be, whether it be by a family member, a friend, a fellow student, a teacher, a boss, a colleague, a doctor, someone on the Internet–you have a voice to express yourself (within reason, of course) either verbally and/or in writing.  Use it!  Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you!

If you are suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and your experience is minimized by someone and/or someone is saying hurtful things to you and/or people are giving you unsolicited advice that is not helping matters one bit, don’t hesitate to use your voice and stand up for yourself.

If you are suffering from PPD and your doctor is not listening to you and/or is treating you in a sub par fashion, tell him that as your doctor, he needs to listen to you and treat you better.  If this is a new doctor who doesn’t “get it” when it comes to PPD, then don’t continue to try to cope with it.  Find a new doctor who “gets it.”

If you are a new mom that is having difficulty breastfeeding and/or wish to supplement with formula (or want to feed your baby formula, period), and lactation consultants, doctors or anyone else who tries to make you feel guilty about that decision, then tell them to back off.  Tell them that how you feed your baby is YOUR choice to make (with your significant other, if applicable).

If a teacher, boss or colleague is bullying you and/or creating an environment that is uncomfortable for you, tell them how you feel and escalate if attempts to reason with them lead to a dead end. 

If you are a student and you find yourself being the target of a bully, don’t relinquish control to them.  Don’t let them know that you are intimidated or bothered by them. It’s important, first of all, to unplug (from social media).  That gives them less weapons for attacking.  Next, document, document, document!  One technique you may be able to use is referred to as baffling the bully.  In other words, come up with a response that throws the bully completely for a loop.  Make it clear that you are unphased by their antics (I know this is hard, but it’s worth trying…not just once, and DO IT EARLY ON).  Be familiar with your state laws concerning bullying.  Make sure you tell multiple individuals, including your parents.  Do not endeavor to undertake this on your own or think that by simply walking away or ignoring it will make it stop.  No one deserves to be bullied.  None of this is your fault.  The bully is the one with the issue, not you.

I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the picture.

I saw a meme pop up on my Facebook feed the past weekend the words of which struck home with me:

One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.  ~ Michelle Obama

Here is the First Lady of the United States who, just like the President himself, are on a daily basis being criticized.  But they both can’t defend themselves from the onslaught of criticisms–most of which are based on prejudism, willful ignorance, illogical reasoning, brainwashing (you are told to think/feel a certain way because x generations of people in the family and community have felt that way for centuries) and just a plain ol’ need to hate, period.  First of all, they can’t possibly address every criticism.  But most importantly, why should they?  The President and First Lady have goals, and they have a commitment to stick with them.

They are, however, in quite a different situation than you and me.  We are not receiving criticisms daily all over the Internet from trolls who have nothing better to do with their time.  The average person who is not a celebrity will just receive criticisms–both warranted and unwarranted (sadly, you can’t prevent the latter)–and you have to deal with them as best as possible, and move on.  Do your best not to dwell on it.  Takes way too much of your energy…energy that could be spent on more productive things.

REMEMBER, everyone is unique in their own way….

Some are verbose, some are succinct.
Some are emotive, some are restrained.
Some are passionate, some are apathetic.
Some are neat, some are messy.
Some choose words wisely, some are inclined to “open mouth, insert foot.”
Some fear confrontation, some do not fear confrontation.
Some are introverts, some are extroverts.
Some are tall, some are short.
Some are generous, some are stingy.
Some are kind, some are mean.
Some are narrow-minded, some are open-minded.
Some are good listeners, some are bad listeners.
Some like it hot, some like it cold.
Some see black/white, some see in numerous shades of grey.
Some are passive, some are aggressive.

You get the picture….oh, and by the way, some are also passive-aggressive…a personality disorder that is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV.  Keep that in mind too.

The trick is this, and guess what I am going to say next?  Yes, EMPATHY.  Try to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes.  It just might teach you something and help you become more open-minded and accepting of others.

Anyway, I just whipped up my own e-card via Some ECards of the sign I would want to flash every. single. time someone puts you in a situation that makes you feel bad:

To sum up this post:

  • Many challenges will be thrown your way during the course of your lifetime.
  • Try your best to keep things in perspective.
  • You have a voice…..use it!
  • Your voice is yours.  Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.
  • Stay true to yourself.
  • Don’t invest any energy on anyone who is against for your whatever reason…it’s not worth it.

Self Appreciation Daily: Accentuate the Positive Blog Hop!

Jaime over at James & Jax is introducing a weekly blog hop.  What a great way to kick off the new year!

I promised I would link up before the end of the week, so here I am.  I sat there for a while tonight, pondering what I did this week that deserves a pat on the back.  Other than the relatively stand-up job I did at work this past week, it took me a while to come up with the rest.

I hope that by participating in this weekly blog hop, it will help me stay more focused on the things I do well, and help build on the confidence that I know is growing over time.  Self awareness and self appreciation is an evolutionary process that takes time and occurs over a life time.   My self confidence and self esteem have been steadily growing.  Given how stark my outlook was as a teenager, I am truly amazed and thrilled that I have come this far.  This growth has occurred mostly from the time I emerged from my postpartum depression (PPD) through the publication of my book.

But it isn’t stopping with the end of my book writing journey.  I’m going to challenge myself to take more notice of the things that I do each and every day that deserve more than to be forgotten–basically taken for granted– by the next day.  My memory finds anything past a day challenging to remember as I get older.

Thank you, Jaime for this inspiration that, blog hop or no blog hop, we all need to focus more on self care, in terms of taking better care of ourselves, as well as patting ourselves on the back for not just the big accomplishments but the little ones that are all too often easily ignored.

Well, here is my list of things I want to pat myself on the back for this week:

  1. Not only did I make it through one helluva stressful week at work, I handled it with confidence and managing to stay organized and meeting deadlines, while not letting the stress get the better of me like it has done so often in the past.
  2. I handled seeing and even talking to the two people that made me feel bad in a previous encounter like a real trooper.  The thought of seeing one of them twice a week and the other one once a week for the next couple of months is not having the kind of impact (i.e., dread) it would’ve had on me in years past.
  3. I handled my daughter’s breakdown on day 1 of her new swim class, new instructor and new pool like a trooper, in my opinion (which is saying a lot, since I’m pretty hard on myself usually).  Thankfully, she didn’t spend too much time crying and before I knew it, she was swimming in the pool….and I avoided the kind of embarrassing episode that left me looking helpless and defeated in the past.
  4. I survived another week of my lovely–and sometimes very long and irritating– commute to/from the City.  I didn’t let 4 separate occurrences of my 10 pet peeves I encountered get to me.
  5. Granted, I’m nowhere near the level of chauffering my other friends do with their multiple kids and their various weekend activities.  But I think I am doing a decent job as schedule keeper/chauffeur, if I do say so myself!  I always make sure my daughter and I get up 1-1/2 hours before any weekend activities, including Chinese school, ballet, and swimming.  That gives us time to eat breakfast (and she’s a very slow eater) and get some TV or playtime in before leaving home.  Transitioning environments has always been somewhat of a challenge for our daughter, but thankfully, she is getting better about it as she gets older!

Please click on the “I’m Doing It Right” button below to check out Jaime’s post and the other blog hop participants’ posts, and consider joining us in this weekly blog hop!  If you can’t join weekly, that’s alright, just join when you can!  It just might make a positive difference in your outlook!