May 27th, 2016
Am I still pretty?
This weekend at graduation from my Kundalini Teacher Training, I got a comment from my friend’s boyfriend that made me feel all kinds of things.
I saw him on the street after the graduation ceremony ended, at which time, I had already taken my white turban off and let my hair down which was flowing in the afternoon wind. Correction…my turban had fallen off during a hug, and I never put it back on.
(Side note: In the Kundalini tradition, yogis wear head coverings, often turbans, but really anything that covers the crown of your head, for holding your energy in and creating a sense of focus during meditation as well as other things you can read here. I do it because it I feel like I have more focus during yoga when I do, and because it makes me feel like I’m being reverent to the practice. Also wearing white and the turban is something I don’t do in any other part of my life, so putting it on feels like a sacred practice. Just so you know…if you decide to take Kundalini classes from me you aren’t required to wear white or turbans unless you want to. :) )
This was significant because the entire time I was in this training, all seven months, I don’t think I ever showed anyone my hair. I had it wrapped from day one until the last day. And what he said was such a reflection of some feelings I had had throughout the entire training.
When I ran into him he said, “Oh wow! You look GREAT!! I mean, [my girlfriend] told me you were a really beautiful girl but I had only ever seen you in the white get-up.”
In this moment, a whole slew of emotions rushed to the surface. Emotions that I myself grappled with the entire time during training.
Which was…am I still beautiful without all the “things” that make me “beautiful.”
All the hair and the makeup and the accessories and the successful business and my rock n roll days, traveling, motorcycle riding, Wildheart history and the “outfits” and nice clothes. Am I still pretty, am I still worthy, do people still want to be my friend if I’m just…me. Do people want to get to know me if I have nothing other than my quiet presence, heart, and spirit to show them?
This whole process of teacher training has been an interesting one. I decided, going in, that I was going to go in bare, blank, and as “slate-wiped-clean” as possible. I showed up on the first day at 4:45 am, in all whites, a turban, and no make-up. No jewelry. No accessories. No “outfit.”
This experiment started a bit before the training started. I was wearing less or no make-up already and questioning when I felt the need to put it on (when I thought I looked sad or tired or wanted to impress people or be thought of as cool or beautiful or when I felt insecure). And continued throughout the training, where I let my leg and armpit hair grow out, and almost never wore make-up, and where I tried (and succeeded) in doing a 40 day cleanse/diet where you eat only green foods.
This stuff might all sound weird. Or hippy. Or woo woo. But to me, it was all an experiment about what it feels like to get to ground zero. To know what it feels like to do something I’ve never tried before. What my body feels like with the hair on it that was intended to be there by grand design? What does it feel like to not lead with all the “cool” and “great” things I’ve accomplished. What does it feel like when I eat foods that have not been processed in any way shape or form, or to not eat any animal products at all. To have no caffeine or alcohol (not a huge drinker so this wasn’t an issue). And what does it feel like when someone sees my hairy leg or armpit or goes out to dinner with me and I order broccoli. How am I loving myself in these moments?
All of this experimenting called me forth to learn a few very important things.
To learn to love and value myself no matter what, put my ego aside and stand behind my decisions no matter how weird or strange they seemed to someone else.
I’m not surprised that this has been such a theme for me. I feel like the last few years have really been bringing me the lesson to love and honor myself no matter what. And I should have known this seven-month journey would be peppered with these lessons when on the first day of class I was waiting in line for the bathroom, and one girl pushed right passed me to the gorgeous 20 something in front of me and said to her, “wow you are really beautiful. I’m just such a lover of beauty and I had to say something.” And then she looked at me and looked away.
In times like this, whether they are real or imagined, we must learn to see our own beauty and self-worth that has nothing to do with the way we look. The beauty that lives in our spirits, our souls, our hearts, and our “cosmic twinkle” (as my dad, the pediatrician used to call it).
That beauty that can’t be measured by a good outfit or a shining smile with perfect, white teeth. The beauty that where you know, deep down, that you are lovable, worthy and wonderful whether or not you have a flat stomach, and a wrinkle free face, or whether or not someone just broke up with you.
I think Yogi Bhajan said it best: “You do not understand your features. Your features are not your beautiful nose, your beautiful cheeks, beautiful lips, and so on. These are not your features. Your features are your beautiful behavior, your beautiful character, your beautiful health, your beautiful spirit, your beautiful advice, your beautiful wisdom, your beautiful inspiration.”
I can honestly say that most of the time, I did not FEEL beautiful during the training. I did not FEEL attractive. And when that happened, I had to dig deep down and feel my own self-worth despite those feelings. To truly see and love myself no matter what I looked like. Or how sad or tired I looked or how introverted I felt. And in doing that, I felt proud. I felt proud knowing that I wasn’t leaning on my old “go-to” to feel popular, and likable. I felt proud knowing that some people could still see my spark. I felt proud that I never wavered from my commitment to myself even when my friends made comments about my turban or couldn’t really look me in the eye when I was wearing it.
In life we are often faced with scenarios that make us feel less-than. Where we compare ourselves to others. Or where we feel invisible or brushed aside. Where we feel unseen or unvalued. And it’s in those times, more than any other, that we must find our own light and our own beauty.
Because at the end of the day, no one else will ever be able to make you truly feel something that you don’t already believe to be true. (Tweet This)
So this is the call to see where in your own life you are feeling small, invisible, and not wonderfully perfect and beautiful, and examine it. Maybe you want to try an experiment of your own to find that love inside yourself. Maybe you want to wear less make-up too. Maybe you want to try to strip it all back in your own life too.
But mostly, I want to hear from you. Have you ever felt like this? Less beautiful than other people? Less worthy? Invisible? If so, tell me in the comments below. I’d love to know:
When have you ever felt this way?
What did you do to move through it?
I would also like to make a request. If you know someone who would appreciate this message of self-love, acceptance, and worthiness, please forward this article along. I truly believe that the world will be a better place if we all start loving ourselves a little bit more. Help spread the love by clicking the “share” button at the top/side of the article.
P.s. I’m doing something NEW!! Soon I will be opening an Online Kundalini Studio with live, streaming, yoga classes. It’s gonna be rad. Promise. Get on this list to make sure you’re in the loop when that goes live.
This blog resonates very strongly with me. All my life I’ve felt like the bumbling ogre. Tall and awkward. I never had much self esteem and my internal dialogue is brutal. I don’t go out in public without makeup (well, every once in awhile I do, but it’s when I’m outdoors walking or running). But it’s scary for people to see the “real” me. It’s like a security blanket that is really hard to get rid of. I never feel as pretty as my friends and my motto is “nobody likes the fat chick” (fat chick being me). I know it’s all superficial and in the end it’s not about how someone looks but who they are as person. If I sat back and thought about it, I would never choose my friends by how they look, but how they act.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Not sure I could do what you did, but maybe baby steps. You definitely put the wheels in motion and got me thinking. Sorry for rambling. Not even sure that’s what you wanted to hear.
Your post is everything to me. Thank you so so much for sharing your heart and your story. It made me at the same time want to give you a hug and also tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way!! That you CAN shift into being someone who KNOWS your value and your beauty.
But I get it. I’ve been there many times. And I know how much it hurts. Please know that you are always accepted here just as you are.
I’m so glad the wheels are in motion. I have to tell you…it’s comments like yours that encourage me to keep writing. If we can feel less alone (all of us) that is my biggest goal. You are not alone.
LOVE AND MASSIVE HUGS
Thank you so much for this. For me, I often FEEL beautiful, but don’t exactly look it. In the past, people would say “you are unusual-looking” or “interesting” or “kinda weird-looking” so that did not help as a 20 or 30-something. Now I figure, “Fuck it– I’m 47 and I FEEL beautiful, even if other people don’t see it. But, the amazing thing is, during our teacher training there were friends coming up to me saying “you are so beautiful” and “you are so radiant and gorgeous” and I’m thinking, “hmmm…. they are seeing something that is beyond the physical. And that is so affirming because we ARE so much more than the body, the face, the packaging. YOU, my friend, are beautiful in all ways– outside and in. That was very clear when first meeting. Your fearless, radiant heart lights your way and your free spirit shines brightly. You are a lioness, a queen, a teacher, a guide. Yes, flowing dark tresses, high cheekbones and amber eyes are lovely, but what makes you beautiful is timeless and infinite. For all of us to cultivate THAT– whether we are fresh 20-somethings or radiant 80-somethings… what a thing. And what a message for women– and for men– everywhere. xoxo :D
Dana…I ADORE this post and you and thank you so much for chiming in. I love what you added about FEELING beautiful no matter what other people were saying. I think that is such an important part of this. Do you think you learned to do that or has it always been natural to feel beautiful?
Thank you so much for your feedback on how I showed up at training. It feels amazing to be seen by you. Thank you. Timeless and infinite. That made my heart leap. Thank you.
This is probably the most pure, real and relatable post I have ever read about the true struggles with “beauty”. I honestly might as well have written this, because almost every single point, thought and description is something that I’ve experienced (although I never could have written it as perfectly). Thank you so much for sharing, Sally.
Just a few months ago I was photographing a wedding. A girl from the party approached my colleague, standing next to me, and told her, “You are so beautiful, I’ve been watching you all night. I just had to say something”. I was you, standing in line behind the twenty-something makeup-clad girl. Completely invisible and feeling insufficient.
I don’t wear makeup. Often times I wonder if I should. Several years ago I contracted Lyme Disease. It’s taken a toll on me physically. Lots of premature aging. More than anything it’s put me in that head spin, wondering if there’s anything about me that’s still beautiful. I definitely often feel unworthy, invisible, and less beautiful than the people around me. And honestly, I think that’s the root of why success has been so hard for me to achieve. Self sabotage and punishment. It’s amazing how cruel we can be to ourselves. I haven’t found a way to move through it and struggle with it daily. However I have found an outlet in helping other women to see the beauty I see in them through photography. And, although it may appear to be superficial, I’ve found that photography actually has an amazing capability of plunging much deeper than the surface.
Thank you so much for sharing. Your words and vision are amazing.
Oh girl…that comment at the wedding broke my heart! And I was standing there right next to you feeling what you were feeling. Actually, something like this happened to me last night. I feel you.
And what you said made me want to scream this from the rooftops…. “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL WORTHY WONDERFUL AMAZING AND THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE VALUABLE AND KIND AND WONDERFUL AND SMART (and I know this because I get to interact with you regularly).”
What I want for you is to not only show other people’s beauty, but to truly see your own. To practice it little by little. I’m doing the same thing. And have some books and recommendations if you ever want them. Just reach out.
Mostly…thank you for sharing this, raw, real, honest comment. Thank you for showing me/us that we are not alone.
Sending love to your beautiful self.
I can definitely relate to this on so many levels… and I’m proud of you for stripping yourself down in this way and staying with it. I often get self-conscious and feel less-than because my hands, feet and other joints have been damaged from many years of rheumatoid arthritis. My hands aren’t exactly “pretty” and there are a lot of things I cannot physically do these days…. But I’m working on the same thing: showing up as I am and loving myself through it. Love you girl, you inspire me! And congrats on your graduation! Xx
Lady…thank you for sharing this with me/us. And you speak to something so important for all of us, which is that we are valuable and beautiful no matter what is happening, and we all need to learn to love ourselves regardless of any of the things we think are less than perfect. For the record…I think you’re perfect as is. You inspire me too. LOVE YOU LONG TIME!