Beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

The secret to a life well-lived is beautiful skin. A whittled waistline and “stop him dead in his tracks” pick up lines. The right pair of shoes. A clean diet (one that will try to convince you is not based upon deprivation). Great sex. A slim body and a fat wallet. A swimsuit that fits your shape. Flat abs that take less than 15 minutes a day to maintain. Makeup that feels like it is barely there. And looking better naked.

At least this is what the world tells me as I walk out the door each morning.

My hands detected the worth and weight of beauty magazines at the age of 12 and I was never the same again. I flipped through the glossy pages where pretty girls smiled back at me and home remedies made promises that I don’t think they were ever fully equipped to keep. As I traced the Perfect Lips. Lashes. Long Flowing Hair. I remember thinking to myself, “I never realized I had this much to fix.I never knew I was missing so much.” I never realized I was this broken.

We digest the pages of these magazines and websites as though they are the 300-calorie sandwich with only 217 milligrams of sodium that sits and waits for us on page 112.

We are fed this idea that the key to true satisfaction and real happiness is somewhere amidst a butt-toning workout and a cream that makes cellulite vanish. We stay hungry over the fact that we can chalk life up to being obsessed with outward appearance, to Always Needing to Fix Something. And as a result? We never need to put away the tool belt, fully loaded with 8-minute abs and voluminous mascara.

If we always have some outer glitch to fix- To Make Our Thighs Smaller, Our Love Handles A Little More Lovely- then we never have to stare inward. We can abandon a quest for inner piece in order to make a journey towards a clear complexion. We never need to shred emotional baggage when Jillian Michaels and P90X promise us a different- more visible- kind of shred.

A great friend of mine spent time building a medical clinic near an all girls orphanage in Latin America and I saw the revelation in his eyes as he told me about the beautiful little girls. Little Girls who missed arms & legs & limbs and yet found nothing to miss at all. “But they were the happiest children I had ever seen, ” he told me. “Because they had not been taught that they were missing something.

We are floundering in a culture that wants to convince us that we are missing something. Constantly Missing. Seven Steps Away From Perfection. Perfect Thighs. Perfect Curves. Perfect Lovers. Perfect Days. What would happen to all those magazines and reality TV shows and billboards if we looked in the mirror and realized we were missing nothing. That it was all there. Sitting abundantly on both our insides and outsides.

That we could stop in our own reflection stand there without an ounce of pressing time itching at our ankles.  To realize the most radiant element on our faces was not half off at WalMart yesterday. To say confidently to our inner selves, “You are not missing things. You are wonderful just the way you are. You are whole.

Whole in a world that tells us we are empty. Full in a world that tells us we are hungry. Content in a world that tells us we are unsatisfied. Here. Right Here. All Parts Intact. In a world that convinces us that we are missing vital parts. Parts that will fulfill us, happiness that sits on a shelf for $4.99, beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

At some point we decide that we are going to pull away, that we are going to shun our ears from the messages that seek to pierce us and make us feel less than worthy. It is not an easy task. A task that never meets perfection. But little by little we allow ourselves to put down the tool belt, put down the coupons and the washed up images of the “way we used to look” to stop and see that all we ever needed never cost us $19.99 and our own self esteem as a sacrifice.

35 thoughts on “Beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

  1. I really needed to read this today. I had a bit of a meltdown last night, sobbing through explanations to D of yes, I might be trying a whole bunch of new things to try and become a better person but it sometimes feels like it doesn’t make the old habits and ways of thinking go away. I want to be able to look at myself and not think “ugly” or “scared”. I want to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin and not make a list a mile long of things that “need” changing. I want to stop trying to save up for a nose job. I just want to be able to feel okay the way I am, and not feel like everything needs fixing. I loved your story of the orphanage and the little girls who didn’t feel like anything was missing at all – I had a similar experience when D’s sister just got back from a mission trip in Africa, she came home so upset with the Western world for thinking we need to buy more and be more perfect in order to be happy, where there, they have absolutely nothing, and are the happiest people in the world.

    Thank you for writing this today ❤

    1. It is a very sad truth but those who uncover it are lucky.. Buying everything and thinking that money can beauty products can fix our problems won’t get us very far.. I really think it is in the learning how to be happy from the inside out. You are a beautiful soul Emily Jane, you have a glow about you that is undeniable and I think that it is your best cosmetic. You wear it well. Hold your head up love.


      Hannah Katy

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I’m struggling lately with the concept of being thinner and etc, so of course I’m dieting and while I think I’m doing it the right way I’m super hungry. And I feel fat and gross, not beautiful and that’s just no fun. It’s funny because I go back and forth between wanting to look a certain way but also wanting to live my life. I’ll have to find the happy medium I suppose.

    1. Have you checked out the book “Women Food and God” by Geneen Roth. Stunning piece of prose, packed with wisdom, the perfect read for anyone struggling with food and weight loss. I got so much out of it.


      Hannah Katy

  3. You once again touched a topic that some people rather not want to think about: that beauty comes from the inside – not the fact that your are thin and wear makeup and have fashionable close.

    We too often forget what is REALLY important in life…

    1. Hard to keep the important stuff in perspective when we are constantly being fed these falsities, don’t you agree? Wish there were an easier route around it.


      Hannah Katy

  4. Same thing for men’s magazines…it’s amazing how much money they make by making us feel poorly about ourselves. The funny thing is that it’s the exact same information that gets regurgitated over and over…as much as those magazines tell us we need to change ourselves – they are the ones that repeatedly spit out the same information. I don’t have a problem with somebody wanting to look or act a certain way, as long as they’re doing it for themselves and not for somebody else.

    1. I agree with that last sentence of yours. I fully support self improvement, just sick and tired of the obsession that comes from the media.. The need to be thinner, prettier and as a result we will be happier. Does not add up in my eyes. And isn’t that crazy that they use the same info again and again, makes you see what a true industry they really are.. looking for the cashola before digging up fresh new advice.


      Hannah Katy

  5. Hannah, I’m posting this on my FB wall. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite Hannah Katy posts! I don’t think there’s a single person out there who doesn’t need this reminder every now and again.

    And, P.S., I miss you. Rick.Rick.Rick. ❤

    1. Rick rick rick! Thank you for passing the post on Steph. Bummed I could not see you this weekend, but I will be back before heading to the Big Apple. Hope all is well.


      Hannah Katy

  6. Love, love, love this! I wish I could send this to every little girl… But since I can’t, I will be emailing it to every friend. Because we girls need to remember this… understand this… and know this always. We ARE already beautiful! Thank you for this beautiful post!

    1. Thank you Nicole! I am so glad you are sending it along.. I hope your friends get something out of it too. And you are right, we Are already beautiful.. Wish that very message could be spread around more openly.


      Hannah Katy

  7. ash – several people already said it, but this post came at a nice time for me as well. This past week and a half I’ve felt frustrated because I’m eating well (never starving myself and for the most part eating the right stuff) and exercising, but I’ve been gaining weight (and I don’t feel like I can use the muscle weighs more than fat excuse considering I’ve been exercising regularly for quite some time). beauty magazines and society as a whole definitely tell us that looking a certain way is just as if not more important than who we are. I appreciate you reminding us that isn’t true.

    1. I know that discouraging feeling all too well, as if we are doing the right things but not seeing the results that we really want.. And that causes us to go back on ourselves and really, in a way, betray ourselves. We side with society and with the beauty magazines when we belittle our own bodies for not fitting a certain mold. It is a terrible thing. I am glad this post came to you at the right time.. Hope it helped love.


      Hannah Katy

  8. This post has such a beautiful message. I know that I have spent my life influenced by the media and images I have seen. I am never skinny enough or pretty enough… I see the cycle continue each day with my female students. At 14-18, they are obsessed with appearances. The cycle needs to stop.

    1. I agree.. I think it is growing even worse, girls are starting to be more insecure with their bodies and looks at a much younger age now.. Scares me to think about what it will be like when my children come into this world.


      Hannah Katy

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog. This is a great post. It is so difficult to find who we are and like oursleves when society is beating us down. I no longer look at glam mags or reality tv…I live from the inside out. This ability may have come with age, not sure, but I do know that I did not have inner peace until I changed my perspective.

    1. I am with you fully. I did not achieve the peace either until I stopped looking outward and focused on taking care of my inner workings.. Best decision I have ever made. I am happy you stopped by!


      Hannah Katy

  10. Boy did I need to read this exactly when I read it. Thank you for the reminder that all those ten-steps-to-a-better-xyz articles are NOT the key to my happiness or TRUE beauty. 🙂

    Also? I love the first picture with the guy looking kind of awkward because he knows he’s totally IN the photo.

    1. Oh Conor (boy in the picture) he is a great sport.. Dealing with our antics.

      And you are very welcome. So glad that you liked the read Tabitha.


      Hannah Katy

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