We've all heard it. "I love your shoes!" "Your hair looks great!" "You look so skinny!" And, sure, when you hear these things, you feel good in that moment, but do we really get any lasting satisfaction from these kinds of acknowledgments? What happens when we change our shoes, cut our hair, or put on a few pounds? Are we no longer worth being acknowledged? Appreciated? Loved?
Physical beauty is something that holds too much importance in our society and, if you think about it, that doesn't make any sense. Why do we hold something so fickle and changing as such a high attribute? To say that how you look one day may make you more or less of a person compared to how you looked the day before or after just does not add up. I mean, think about how fashions change. What was fashionable a few years or even months ago we would be mocked for wearing today. So why put so much stock into something so unstable?
The only answer I can seem to find is that physical attributes are what we are taught to always put at the forefront of conversation. When you run into a friend at the grocery store, they hug you and say how great you look. When at a family reunion, your family talks about how much you've changed physically or look more or less like your mother, father or siblings. When a guy hits on you in a bar, he tells you you look "beautiful."
And that's why I think this needs to stop. Stop giving into this societal urging to put physicality above all else. It will be hard. And I'm not saying you should stop telling your significant other or best friend how beautiful they are. What I'm saying is, don't make that the only thing you tell them
Recently a guy I liked was flirting with me and just when I was ready to hear him talk about how pretty I was, he didn't. He told me how much he respected my work ethic. He talked about how I pushed myself in work and school and how I made what I wanted to happen, happen. And guys, let me tell you, it rocked my world. Unlike if he had talked about my appearance, it stuck with me. Even now I think about how it feels to have been seen as someone with these characteristics. These lasting characteristics. So when I went home and got ready for bed that night, the amount of worth I had achieved from those words didn't wash-away with the makeup on my face.
So perhaps next time you're talking to a friend or family member, even if you do make note of their physical appearance, maybe take the time to tell them how much you admire their confidence. Tell them about how you see how hard they've been working and that you're proud of them. Or that you see their strength, kindness, or bravery. Because, honestly, that is the truest form of beauty we, as people, can have. And it is lasting, and empowering, and really, truly, beautiful.