I’ve often wondered if I was born during the wrong time period. My values and interests are more in line with earlier days. Even my body type seems to fit better in a time far from the present. Had I lived in the latter part of the 1800’s when voluptuous women were adored, I might have gotten a few whistles or admiring glances. As fate would have it, my idea of the perfect body was developed while the famous model, Twiggy, was at the tale-end of her career. Twiggy, as her professional name implies, was super skinny. My classmates and I wanted to look just like this model that society considered to be a real beauty. We cut our hair, wore short shift-style dresses, and tried to look skinny. Even at my lowest weight, I had curves.
I didn’t fit into skinny.
I don’t fault Twiggy for my warped vision of the perfect body type. There are many factors that contributed to my unappreciative view of my own healthy, strong, and youthful body. Discovering my husband was addicted to viewing pornography and lust added a whole lot more to my already failing sense of worth when it came to my personal appearance. I’ve had to grapple with this issue in order to find healing from my betrayal trauma. I’m nearing my 60th birthday so the hope of having a body that can compete with online painted and photoshopped ladies isn’t realistic. I’m working on making my body more healthy and strong, but I can’t change my body to look like the young models and celebrities on social media. I can, however, change the way my mind thinks about my body.
I’ve learned to recognize the inner dialogue that goes through my head as I look in the mirror. I go through a progression of thoughts until I finally come around to what I call the “celestial body” talk. I am of the LDS faith, so I believe that there are three kingdoms of glory that we can attain in the next life. These degrees of glory are often compared to the celestial bodies we find in the skies: the sun, the moon, and the stars. So, the phrase “celestial body” has multiple meanings to me. My personal celestial body talk helps me focus on the truer sense of beauty.
Telestial Beauty: At the telestial level, my beauty is only about my appearance or what I see in the mirror. I often use the mantra,
“I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent”
as I consider the imperfections and flaws of my aging body while also acknowledging that I have some excellent features that have not changed so much: fingernails, eyes, lips, etc. Telestial beauty is dictated by the values of society that are ever changing. Without expensive surgeries and extensive cosmetic assistance, very few, if any, women are able to touch the impossible-to-reach and narrow view of beauty defined by today’s world.
Terrestrial Beauty: Terrestrial beauty takes on a more worthy perspective. This is where I see and appreciate the functionality of my body. My body works for me, is healthy, can take care of others and myself, and is therefore beautiful. My body enables me to perform the tasks I need to do while I’m alive on this earth. My body allows me to experience the gifts of movement and creativity. The miracle that my body is full of life makes it a thing of beauty.
Celestial Beauty: When I can see myself as God sees me, I have reached the understanding of beauty at the celestial level. It is difficult to have negative feelings about my body when I see myself as a spiritual being with a kind and loving Father in Heaven in whose image I am created. When I look in the mirror and know that my heart is soft and yearning for spiritual growth, I feel my inner beauty shine through.
Because of my age, it is an impossibility that I will ever find the physical beauty that is now valued by the world, so I am no longer seeking that type of beauty. Instead, I focus on what is possible: to live a righteous life so I will someday see the face of my Savior. He will see that I’ve done the best with what I have been given. I will feel his love and I will feel beautiful.
Source of Quote: “I may not be totally perfect but parts of me are excellent” is from the Brilliant Thought Series, No. 1, by Ashleigh Brilliant.
Photo Credit Lillian Russell: Medical Daily. “History Of Body Image In America: How The ‘Ideal’ Female And Male Body Has Changed Over Time.”
Photo Credit Twiggy: Huffington Post. “Twiggy, 64, Models Leather Collection For M&S Proving She Hasn’t Lost Her Edge.”
Disclaimer: My experiences and opinions are mine alone and do not represent any public expressions of policy by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.