Opinion on true beauty - by Anna Rodgers
Posted on October 26 2012
For many years, I thought I knew what beauty was; I thought about it constantly. Growing up, I was bullied about my appearance and was the butt of many jokes, from both boys and girls, almost on a daily basis.
I was very, very thin to the point of looking like I had an eating disorder which made me very ‘geeky’ looking and this subsequently became one of the reasons that caused me to develop a highly sensitive nature. For those that wanted to be mean, to offload their own unhappiness, I was a very easy target indeed. At school, I would look at the pretty girls in my grade, so seemingly carefree and confident, and wish that I could be like them; that perhaps all the answers to my problems would be solved by being accepted.
Not only was I stick-thin, I also had a nose that looked like it had been broken and was too big for my very small face. Not knowing it was a problem until a boy at school made fun of me about it, I also began to find other things that I desperately hated about myself.
I would obsess about my face so much so that I would constantly look in the mirror to see how horrible it really was or if there was some way I could make it better. I felt that I had a face that was half ok and the other half was very, very ugly. So I felt very confused as to what was the true me.
I would literally spend day after day, and many a sleepless night worrying about my looks. The obsession would never leave me and a few years later in life would be one of the causes that would contribute to my behaviour of regular self-harm. I did this in secret for ten years and to this day, whilst I have stopped doing this as of many years ago, I still have the faint scars on my arms and legs.
The obsession with my unhappiness regarding my looks caused many problems with my relationships and with life in general because my low self-esteem would often leave me miserable, argumentative and at times not even wanting to leave the house.
In 2006, I got to make myself ‘beautiful’ by choosing to have plastic surgery. I paid a lot of money to change what I hated so much about myself. I went through the most pain I had ever experienced but felt it was worth it because I thought that with improved looks, my life would change for the better and I would have no more problems.
After the operation, I did like my appearance better as I felt no one could say anything about my big nose, because it was no longer there. But, I noticed straight away that my true self-esteem was still quite damaged. I still had all of the other problems stemming from my childhood.
Years later after moving here to the UK, I was approached in the street to do modelling. This was a dream come true, and I felt I couldn’t be happier. I began to do photo-shoots and even had some amazing opportunities come my way; ones that I had dreamed of since I was a teenager.
At the start of my career as a model, I found that seeing photographs of myself was almost like a drug. I wanted to see new ones all the time as that was more validation that I was ‘ok’. I began to see that I still had very insecure feelings about who I was and what I dreamed of happening in my life, that being thought of as ‘pretty’ would fix how my mind viewed myself.
I assumed that the modelling would make me feel happy with myself, but the truth was, deep down I was still the insecure girl at school who had been bullied every day. I began to see that the pictures actually meant nothing. Being praised for just your appearance was actually quite an empty feeling. All the compliments, as nice as they were, meant nothing to my soul.
What I noticed about the modelling industry almost straight away, was how much ugliness there really was. It had nothing to do with anyone’s appearance, it was how people treated others and how lost they were to what was real and important in life. It also reminded me how lost I had been all those years.
On some photo shoots, I worked with many models that were extremely ‘beautiful’, but I was shocked by their ‘ugly’ personalities. And they were so insecure — they could not be nice to anyone, and they saw every other girl as competition.
I also noticed girls that were clearly anorexic, and in need of serious help and of course proper nutrition, be completely ignored of their dangerous condition, by designers and photographers alike, who were using the girls to make themselves look good.
No one asked them, “Are you ok?” Instead, they were oohing and aahhing over how skinny they were and how great the clothes looked on them. I saw after a short while, what a sick environment this beauty obsessed world was. We all know, as a society that this has gotten completely out of hand, especially in the last ten years.
We are creating a generation of women and also men, who have become so obsessed with what they look like that they forget what is really important in life.
…As I did too.
They forget why they are here on earth and what they are meant to really do with their lives.
…As I did too.
I feel it is easy to know where this has come from — it’s from television, movies and magazines that stem from western countries, particularly America. Beauty has always been very subjective, depending on what culture you come from and many unusual (to western standards) yet amazing forms of the description of beauty can be found, in far away countries around the world. But, the quest for this ‘uniformed perfection’ is really sweeping the globe, almost like a virus and affecting countries that throughout history, really seemed to be comfortable in their own ways.
Take China for example; many years ago, high fashion and ‘perfect looks’ were not a big part of their culture but ‘thanks’ to the most famous magazine in the world, Vogue, which began to go on sale in China 8 years ago, the western idea of beauty is affecting even the very young.
With posters of white-skinned, blue or green eyed statuesque young girls splashed all over the department stores and on television and in movies, the Chinese are succumbing to thinking that they too, need to also fit in the same box to be thought of as beautiful. Young Chinese girls can now visit a multi-story Barbie store in Bejing, the capital of China.
When asked what they loved about these dolls, they answer ‘I love her blonde hair and blue eyes’. They were also asked, “Would you be happy to have a Chinese doll?”… “No” they answered, ‘’I want to look just like Barbie!’’
The girls wanted to look like the complete opposite to what a Chinese girl looks like!
With the rate of breast implants going sky-high over the years in our own country, I am sure we will soon see a plastic surgery obsession on the rise for the women of China too. These naturally petite and dainty women, will be trying to ‘fit in’, to look more like Pamela Anderson, who is ‘praised’ for being a real-life Barbie, all because they have been programmed from a young age to think that this is what ‘beauty’ really is.
A few years ago, I began to really think about what was truly beautiful to me and realised it wasn’t at all about looks, or photographs of people where a whole team of people were involved to create an illusion of what ‘perfection’ was supposed to be.
I remember back to the time when I was working as a Beauty Therapist (see how the obsession with beauty affected my life so much, that I chose a job when I left school that helped others to be more ‘beautiful’) in Sydney, Australia. I saw hundreds if not thousands of people over the years, 99% of them I cannot remember but quite a few, impacted me deeply to this day.
Rosie, a woman in her 50’s came in to see me for a two-hour treatment. I immediately noticed how bright, vibrant and sweet she was. She radiated this amazing, loving warmth that I enjoyed being around. We had lots of time to chat and as always, I asked her about herself.
Rosie was widowed and had three sons whom she adored, who were all super close to each other and to her. She told me that her husband died of cancer many years ago and that two of her sons were killed in separate instances, years apart, both hit by cars, whilst on their motorbikes.
What was even sadder was that her third son was in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy and needed constant 24-hour care. This woman seemed to have the worst ‘luck’ and I couldn’t help but to feel so sorry for her.
But, what quickly became apparent to me was that she did not feel sorry for herself. Instead, she was so grateful that she could give her third son all the love and care that he deserved and needed. She found great strength in knowing that her two sons and deceased husband were up there looking out for her and her surviving son. She still found great happiness in each and every day and would spend many an hour each day remembering her loved ones, whilst still living very much in the present moment. And, when she did have a few hours off from looking after her surviving son, she volunteered some of her time at the local retirement village!
She did not tell me this story to get sympathy, she was just telling me about her life, without an ounce of regret.
I thought, she was, without a doubt, completely beautiful. I saw it radiating out of her body; in her attitude, her spirit, her humour and her ‘nothing will ever let me not love or be grateful for my life’ mentality.
Another lady I haven’t forgotten is Joan, an elegant and very sophisticated lady that came in for a half-day treatment. Her husband brought her in and explained to me whilst she was getting undressed that she was a bit fragile and I just needed to make sure she was comfortable. As he spoke, I could see how much he loved his wife.
I began to chat with Joan, and again knew there was something very special about this lady. She was so warm, friendly, and sweet, and was so grateful to be in with me having a nice relaxing treatment. Joan explained to me that if I heard any strange noises they were coming from her stomach and not to be alarmed. She said that she had a colostomy bag attached to her and that it often made some funny sounds. At the time, I didn’t even know what a colostomy bag was and asked her what it was.
Joan explained to me how much she loved horses and years ago, she went out for a long ride with her daughter. After they came back she got off her horse and was about to take it back into the stables. Something scared the horse and caused it to step backwards and knock Joan over, falling on to her lower body. Joan’s insides were crushed severely and she nearly died. Joan was in a coma for many weeks and since has needed many operations. She said she lost count at number 19!
She subsequently could not go to the bathroom properly anymore and had to carry around with her a colostomy bag that required emptying every few hours.
I was flabbergasted at what she had been through! The pain of 19 different operations was not something I could imagine.
This lady to me was still elegant and sophisticated, in fact more so, despite carrying around her own waste in a small plastic bag! She still loved her life, she was grateful they could afford all of the hospital care and loved her husband more than ever for spending all these years caring for her without questioning or complaining. And she was still able to give her children the most love a mother can give.
When she left, I shed a tear in privacy because her story affected me so much.
Through my eight years of being a Beauty Therapist, I saw many examples of beauty. The ones that impacted me the most had nothing to do with looks.
I have just finished reading a book on near death experiences and what I noticed was that none of the stories from people who had nearly died, described seeing anyone that was physically ‘beautiful’. They described seeing incredible lights and colours that are not seen on earth and they also described a feeling of perfect and unconditional love.
No one ever described seeing a beautiful man or woman.
Beauty was the feeling that they felt in their soul.
Physical beauty does not seem to exist in the ‘next’ life. It is only here on Earth that it seems so important.
In these uncertain times, where so many things are in disarray, we need to ask ourselves, what is the real meaning of beauty and can the answer, and your own belief make your life better?
To me, beauty is so many things and none revolve around someone’s appearance in the way that it used to for me. Now I do not wish I could be like someone in a magazine. These days, I strive to be as healthy and as kind to others as possible. As that is real beauty!
Some examples of Beauty….
• A best friend, who always listens, is there for you no matter what.
• Unconditional love.
• The shop assistant who really does wish you a good day.
• A stranger in the street who gives you a genuine smile.
• Someone who laughs a lot.
• A baby’s smile.
• A child’s laugh.
• Living an authentic life, leading by example.
• A child dancing in public yet not caring that everyone is watching.
• The elderly couple, who are still so in love they hold hands in the street.
• People banding together in times of great hardship.
• The person on the bus or tube that will stand up for someone when they need the seat more.
• A radiant energy that effects everyone who meets you.
• A person that puts others needs before their own.
• Positive and inspiring people despite the hard knocks they have received.
• Respecting every other human being, treating all like they are brothers and sisters.
• The mother or father who will do anything for the good of their child.
• Healthy, clear skin and glossy hair from eating the right foods.
• Anything at all to do with nature.
We are blessed with beautiful reminders every day and if we choose to look for them, we don’t have to look far.
Miss Eco Glam & ‘Beauty’:
I sometimes get a few people criticise me for what ‘Miss Eco Glam’ stands for. They feel that I am promoting superficiality. What I say to them is this:
I am aiming to try and affect those people that are superficial.
There is a whole load of ‘superficial people’ out there in this world and yes, I want to encourage them to make better choices with their beauty products. No one, not even me, can stop them so if they are to keep buying, let it be an environmentally friendly choice!
I want to influence the makeup artists and girls/women alike who have toxic products in their kit to look at buying safer makeup!
I want to also encourage mothers to buy safer things for their children.
I want to influence people who spend lots of money on fashion to buy sustainable clothing instead.
I want to influence girls, models or not, to choose organic foods and look after themselves in a better, healthier way.
I want people who are lucky enough to have the money to travel to choose better holidays that respect the environment.
I want to help people realise that they can survive chronic illness and depression through always looking at natural therapies.
If I can gain a following from people and influence them in a positive way because they see me as being superficial, then it is worth it!
We need to appeal to every part of society if we want this world to change for the better!
(Miss Eco Glam) xx