“I have become a more confident, positive, and resilient person throughout working with Rewrite Beautiful.” – Natalie, Student, Cal State Long Beach
Beauty Does Not Always Feel Beautiful
Over the past year my inbox on Facebook, Twitter and Email has piled up with questions from girls all over the world (World meaning, United Kingdom , Australia and Brazil ) Half of them want to start their own business, non-profit, magazine, writing career and want some advice from none other than Cest Moi! I’m flattered. But, often times I have found myself answering the same questions over and over again, so cue Lightbulb Moment! I decided to start a blog series called, Beautiful Courage about what it takes to have a beautiful vision and execute it. Debuting in the next couple weeks (here or procrastination there. )
The other half of girls who reach out to me are struggling. They are battling an eating disorder, depression, low self-esteem and sometimes are suicidal – never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the suicide hotline on speed dial next to my best friends. These girls are at their wits end going to therapists, counselors, acupuncturists and God, yet they’re still in pain. They don’t know what to do, so they reach out to me, the crazy Street Artist lady – Might as well give it a shot right? This weekend, I received one message through Facebook that I have seen many times before; a girl who didn’t feel beautiful and was in severe pain. With her permission she has allowed me to share our convo with you, in the hopes that maybe you can benefit from it and understand why Beauty Does Not Always Feel Beautiful. Our Facebook messages to each other are below:
Hi sweet Irvina,
This might sound weird but I need to share my truth with someone. And you were the only person that comes to my mind. I’m extremely sad and have a really low self-esteem. I feel ugly and not good enough for my boyfriend. I love him and no one’s perfect but he has said a lot of things to put me down. I feel terrible. I’m focusing so hard on trying to make myself feel beautiful that I think I’ve forgotten what it means to be and feel beautiful. Help! I f eel sad and want to be happy again. I guess this is my way of reaching out! I don’t feel good enough period.
Hello Beautiful Girl,
Let me start with first off saying thank you so much for reaching out to me. I know it takes a whole lot of courage to speak up when we’re not feeling so hot. It inspires me when I see girls like you being brave enough to seek a healthy way out of pain- so many girls don’t. Sadly, over the past couple years I have received several messages like yours. A lot of girls are struggling in the same way-You’re not alone in your thinking, but the problem IS in your thinking.
The more I reflected on how I would reply to you, I kept thinking about this marriage series by Tim Keller that I’ve been listening to (nope, not even close to marriage, homegirl just has issues ;) ) The thing that made me think of you is when he said,
“We marry people because we like the FEELING of being in love. We like how they make us FEEL. But, the funny things is nowhere in the marriage vows does it talk about even being in love with the other person. The marriage vows are all about promises that say,
I PROMISE to be faithful,
I PROMISE to be there when you’re healthy and sick,
I PROMISE to be there in the good and bad times,
I PROMISE to be there in your joy and your sorrow
I PROMISE to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
These marriage vows are promising to do these acts of love even when the person DOESN’T feel loving.“
This reminds me so much of beauty because a lot of the time I don’t feel beautiful either. I’m lucky because, I actually don’t need to FEEL beautiful because I KNOW I am beautiful. Feeling and knowing are two different things. I disregard how I feel about beauty, because I get the benefit of falling back on the FACT that I KNOW I’m beautiful. How do I know?
Here’s the thing, I know I didn’t get to choose how I got on this planet. I didn’t get to choose who my parents are, the country I live in, the color of my eyes or the size of my shoes. Just like the colors in a piece of art, the circumstances and the body parts I was born into are completely out of my control and in the hands of some crazy painter. I stand under the belief that the chances that I have an eating disorder, divorced parents, a loud voice, a flare for writing and was born a brunette with green eyes, in Orange County, California are all paint strokes on a canvas that go together for a reason. I didn’t get to choose which paint strokes put me together, but I’m here and I have faith that all the parts that put me together ARE BEAUTIFUL, therefore I AM BEAUTIFUL. I understand that the dark parts of my life are just as significant as the bright parts. I appreciate that all of me is a work of art and I wouldn’t change any of it. When you can embrace your weaknesses and your strengths you can see your beauty and eventually KNOW it.
You don’t feel beautiful, because feelings are so fickle ( I love that word! Rhymes with pickle!) feelings don’t last. Just like how a marriage won’t last if two people base their relationship on how they feel. You can’t base your beauty on how you feel or you’ll be at the mercy of the weather.
Something I have found to be very effective in helping me to KNOW my beauty has been through my actions. Rewrite Beautiful says beauty is an action of creativity, kindness and strength. I’ll tell you when I am creative; I write, I get to know my beauty. When I am kind; help one of the girls I mentor, I get to know my beauty. When I am strong; tell people when they have hurt my feelings; I get to know my beauty. You said that you have really low self-esteem right now. I used to have low self-esteem too. A really wise and amazing women named Jenny J. once told me, “If you want self-esteem you have to do estimable things.” I can promise you that if you do estimable things like acting out one creative, kind and strong thing a day your self-esteem will rise. I guarantee it.
One STRONG thing you could start with is by sticking up for yourself and telling your boyfriend that he has hurt your feelings. I’m guessing you haven’t told him that he’s hurting your feelings because most guys I know would stop if they knew they were hurting me. Sometimes we’re too scared to tell them though. You might try saying, “When you say X,Y,Z. I feel hurt and sad.” See how he responds. In my experience, most guys want to be good to their girlfriend, help her, protect her, but if we don’t show them how to help and protect us they’re left in the dark.”
I think you would benefit from our next Street Art Workshop on Sunday, May 6th from Noon to 2pm. It’s free and has lunch provided. We’ll be helping people find their own creativity, kindness and strength and then giving them the opportunity to share that message with others. You can sign-up HERE: http://www.rewritebeautiful.org/get-involved
In the meantime, remember the marriage vows. Even though two people don’t feel in love, they know they have to act in love. It doesn’t matter if you feel beautiful, remember what you know makes you beautiful. I challenge you to find your creativity, kindness and strength this week, those are the things that make you beautiful. Let me know how it goes. BTW: I’m thinking of sharing this email with you on the Rewrite Beautiful blog ( I would keep your name anonymous of course.) Your pain and willingness to be vulnerable right now could actually help a lot of girls going through the same thing.