Why Is It Hard to Talk About Our Own Beauty?

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“beauty” is a strange concept. when i goggled it, the first definition said “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic sense, especially the sight.” beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder but why do we behold ourselves so differently than others?

why is it hard to talk about our own beauty in the same way we talk about the beautiful people around us and in our lives?

last week, i participated in a video blog all around beauty, both external and internal.

one of the questions was “what makes you feel beautiful” and another “what is your favorite physical thing about yourself?”

as i was preparing to answer these questions, i felt myself get more self-conscious in regards to my looks. now these aren’t questions that we probably answer every day but i think it’s important to think about them. i actually used to have incredibly low self-esteem and even lower self-confidence. these things contributed to my unhappy life and also made me feel like i had to stay in an unhealthy relationship for three years too long.

Why is it hard to talk about our own beauty?

thankfully through therapy, finding my truer self (still in process and probably always will be) and a remarkable partner to share my life with, these have gotten better for me. i do still feel self-conscious at times but nothing like i used to feel to the point of literally hiding away.

as i watched the other videos, i was surprised to see that almost all of the other women got super uncomfortable when they answered these same questions in particular. most everyone was able to easily identify traits and characteristics of others that they found beautiful quickly but not for themselves.

why is it that we are so much more comfortable and confident lifting others up but not ourselves? don’t get me wrong, i think it’s absolutely necessary and we could use more encouragement of other women but don’t we count too? shouldn’t we be extending that same grace and kindness and encouragement to ourselves from ourselves?

why do we get uncomfortable talking about our own beauty? don’t you find it inspiring and attractive when you see others completely owning who they are? are we afraid that if we say we’ve got amazing legs, a pretty face or killer boobs that people won’t like us? they will see us as conceited or full of ourselves? i don’t think acknowledging parts of ourselves that we find beautiful to be narcissistic, in fact, i think most of us need to do more of it.

when i get hyper critical of the stretch marks or cellulite on my thighs (because it’s been there since 8th grade and isn’t going anywhere soon), i give myself a reality check. those legs of mine can walk up stairs without pain, they can sit criss-cross applesauce and they can run, even when it’s uncomfortable. not every body can do those things so it’s less about the aesthetics and more about functioning. these legs of mine are freaking gorgeous because they allow me freedom and movement. stretch marks have nothing to do with that.

as i said in my video, i used to burn the crap out of my curly hair to force it straight. that’s how the ‘pretty girls’ had their hair at school. that’s what shown in magazines and on TV. straight, glossy hair seemed like that’s what i needed in order to feel beautiful. it’s only been in the last few years that i’ve started getting more comfortable with embracing these curls of mine. let me tell you, it’s so much more enjoyable than seeing my hair break off or freak out when it went back to waves by the end of the day.

of course i’m not saying you should stop doing your hair however you feel best, rather that we all stop and consider why it is we feel or act a certain way about our bodies.

want to try something radical? stand completely naked* in front of a mirror for a solid 3 minutes and just look at yourself. maybe you already do this and maybe you never have but i can bet it will stir up some feelings of both discomfort and amazement. when you have the house or bathroom to yourself, check yourself out. for every negative thought you feel about a part on your body, add two positives about it.

you are alive and you are beautiful. it’s true so believe it.

what are you thoughts on why it is hard to talk about our own beauty but less so for others?

*no photos shall appear as a tutorial for this.


  1. Brittany

    April 15, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Love this! It’s so true. The same goes for why are we (women) so afraid to brag on our work accomplishments? Men have no trouble rambling off to their boss here’s why I need a raise because I’ve done this..this..and this. Thanks for opening up this line of discussion!
    Brittany recently posted…The Midi Skirt: 3 Ways to Wear This Spring

    • chelsea

      April 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      totally true on that account too, brittany! i know i’m also one to quickly say “welllll it was a team effort not just me” which is often true but sometimes we just need to OWN it. thanks for your thoughts brittany!

  2. chelsea jacobs

    April 15, 2015 at 9:26 am

    chelsea jacobs recently posted…just write: with time.

    • chelsea

      April 15, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      it’s a tricky thing but i think we need to acknowledge it more! thanks for your comment

  3. Audrey

    April 15, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I’ve thought about this a lot in recent years. I firmly believe that my confidence level is much more healthy than it’s ever been as far as body image goes. Sometimes I wish I could give this confidence to the high school version of me so she’d spend less time thinking about her weight and acne, and more time having fun. (I was small in hs but never thought that back then.) Now I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and I still have occasional acne (and scars) but I don’t care because I’m so happy with who I am. My extra 20 lbs. or zit or rubbing thighs don’t limit me in any way.

    Along these same lines, I already think about the future when I may have a daughter that will struggle with this. I wonder how I will convince her that as long as her heart is happy and she’s doing what she loves, everything else is all good. (Sons, too, actually.) Girls develop so many mental and physical disorders all because of some “standard of beauty” pressure. Why? How did it come to this? How crazy is it that I had to see a counselor because my ex talked about weight constantly? The external and internal pressure we put on ourselves to be “perfect” beauty-wise is so, so strange.

    I rambled, but I really do love your post. It’s so important to realize that beauty is how WE want to see it, and as long as we are breathing and moving and living, it’s beautiful.
    Audrey recently posted…I Hate Spring

    • chelsea

      April 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      totally know what you mean about going back and telling your high school version the same thing, audrey! can you tell mine while you’re at it 🙂

      i think it’s so important that you’re already thinking about this for if you have a daughter some day, that’s really great. the stupid social pressure is ridiculous and even highly educated women realize it’s a scheme but we still fall into the trap. i really appreciate your comment and thoughts on this audrey and i’m so happy to hear that you are in a much better space now!
      chelsea recently posted…Why Is It Hard to Talk About Our Own Beauty?

  4. carissajade

    April 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Love this, all of this. It’s so true. We can be so awful to ourselves, and really we should love ourselves the most. I’ve really been working on this. I have a history with eating disorders and have always had a really difficult relationship with my appearance. I think yoga has helped me begin to love my body much more. But I wish it was easier.
    carissajade recently posted…Can We Talk About Mental Health?

    • chelsea

      April 15, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      it’s so sad how awfully we are to ourselves indeed, carissa jade. i’m glad to hear you’ve been working on this because i can only imagine how difficult this would be in struggling with an eating disorder. it’s great that you’ve found yoga to help with this!

      one thing i remember hearing some where is that it doesn’t get easier…we just get stronger and it sounds like you’re doing just that!
      chelsea recently posted…Why Is It Hard to Talk About Our Own Beauty?

  5. Amanda

    April 15, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    You make some great points. What is up with our society, like you said, sexualizing women but then shaming then. It’s so hard to win. And if a woman is confident in her looks, then she’s vain, so of course we all hate ourselves.
    That naked mirror trick is fantastic. I did it recently, dreading it, thinking it’d be awful, but I was pleasantly surprised that the features I hate most about myself aren’t really as bad as I thought they were. It’s easy to work imperfections up in our mind as this awful, encompassing thing, when really it’s no biggie.
    Amanda recently posted…Tips for Purging Your Closet

    • chelsea

      April 16, 2015 at 11:27 am

      it is so hard to win with society and then with ourselves, you’re right amanda. i am SO glad you’ve done the naked mirror trick, i was pleasantly surprised too! it’s amazing when we comfort things head on it’s a bit easier than if it’s just mulling around in our brain. 🙂
      chelsea recently posted…Why Is It Hard to Talk About Our Own Beauty?

  6. Rachel G

    April 15, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    People in my family tend to naturally think of ourselves as pretty awesome–we have a phrase for it “unreasonably high personal regard.” We find ourselves hilarious and clever and accomplished and gorgeous…we also realize that it’s generally not polite to talk about how cool you are, so when we’re with outsiders we don’t use the “I’m awesome” “I’m gorgeous” “I’m a genius” (or, in my millionaire uncle’s words, “I’m so rich I can’t hear you…” when he calls my mom, his little sister, on the phone)….we don’t say these sorts of things in public, because it’s true, people will look at you weird when you unabashedly describe yourself as the best thing since sliced bread.

    In public, we speak and talk differently, and I think there’s a lot of value in feedback from others on performance/personality/beauty/any characteristic. When I edited papers in school, I worked both with students who thought they were awesome and knew it all and were really good writers (no matter how much their paper sucked!!) and students who realized that they had a lot of room for improvement….the students who succeeded were the ones who gave MY feedback more weight than their own feedback, and were able to do a better job in their classes. Sometimes you shouldn’t listen to your own voice above all others. One of my teenage sisters has absolutely refused all friendly advice about style/fashion/skincare/haircuts because she considers herself gorgeous just the way she is. That’s absolutely great, but the teenage years are awkward for everyone, and I have a feeling she wouldn’t cringe so much when looking back on old pictures in years to come if she’d listen to others’ input like “don’t wear skinny jeans that are 3 inches too short for your insanely long legs”.

    So I can understand why we prioritize what other people say about our beauty/talents over what we say…maybe it is due to my personality/family culture, but I’m going to think that my haircut is beautiful and my outfit is amazing no matter what. That just comes naturally to me. Since that’s my norm, it’s way more meaningful to me when other people say, “Hey, you look great!” because I’m like, “You think so too?” (only I don’t say that, because again, that’s not polite society is it?)

    It always shocks me when people think of myself the same way I do–and maybe it’s because I have the baseline of “unreasonably high personal regard.” I’m guessing that that baseline and my family culture is what influences me to find compliments from others way more memorable and inspiring than compliments from myself, because that’s just normal.

    I mean, do I actually think I have the best body out there? No way. But I’d rather be me than anyone else in the world, and this body is part of the deal. But we also need to be aware of putting too high of an emphasis on our looks–our actions are more important, anyways. “Beauty” only lasts for, what? 70, 80 years. That ain’t long. How I live matters more in the grand scheme of things than whether I have an awkward haircut.

    I know I’m spinning this a little off-topic of your original post, but you got me thinking on such matters, so I blame you. And your curly hair is gorgeous. I’m pro-curls!
    Rachel G recently posted…If I Were a Niche Blogger…

    • chelsea

      April 16, 2015 at 11:33 am

      so many insightful things you have touched on rachel! i am so happy to hear that you and your family have ‘high personal regard’ that is incredible. maybe you need to do a post on ways you think your parents/family culture influenced this because i’m insanely curious. my husband also has incredibly high ‘personal regard’ and i’m often envious of it. it’s hard because i was raised in a family where they always supported me, told me i was smart, talented, pretty, good values but societal’s beauty standards still got into my head.

      i wonder why some of us seem immune while others of us feel it so deeply? it’s an interesting thing to consider. thanks for your thoughts on this and keep doing what you’re doing because it sounds like it’s working 🙂

  7. Diana

    April 16, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I stumbled upon your blog today. This was such a great post

    • chelsea

      April 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

      thanks for stopping by the blog diana and i’m glad you liked the post! looking forward to checking out your blog!

  8. Vivien

    April 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Wonderful post and so relevant to everyone! It is something I often wonder about, and I’m certainly not immune. Often I look at everyone else and seeing them as perfectly fine, pretty, whatnot and when I go home and look at the mirror at the end of the day, I see someone that is just…not.

    I would tend to agree it’s a ridiculously fine line that’s so hard to navigate. You want her to be more confident and put herself down less? Well at some very short point later, that confidence is now turned into arrogance/vainness. I’ve even had some good-hearted guy friends insist a girl doesn’t need makeup and then have the “omg!” moment when they do see a girl they know sans makeup. Sometimes feels like a no-win situation.
    Vivien recently posted…Reaching Deep, Being Brave

    • chelsea

      April 16, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      thanks for reading and for your comment vivien! great example of that stupid thing that exists when guys claim to like women ‘au nautrale’ just to have them freak out when she’s not wearing any.

      beauty is a strange thing but i do think we need to start seeing ourselves the way we see others we love 🙂

  9. Amanda Wood

    April 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Oh I needed to read this today. So many great points and things to think about. Thank you Chelsea
    Amanda Wood recently posted…Currently

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