All the way back in 2008 I did a study abroad program in Oxford, UK. For anyone who knows me personally is aware how much this trip meant to me. I made lifelong friends and lived in a gorgeous, suspended reality. Towards the end of the trip I was weighing probably the lowest I had ever weighed since childhood, but I didn’t realize that. I knew I wasn’t really focusing on weight loss. It was just sort of happening. I was busy having fun, and I had way more priorities (like
flirting with British boys studying). I remember taking photos and criticizing my appearance. Now, there were a few photos I thought, “Dannnnggg girl. You look good!” but for the most part, I had negative thoughts about the majority of my photos.
Over the years, I have looked back at the photos (Full disclosure: I have put on weight since then). I’m always amazed at how good I looked compared to how I felt in the moment. Since then (ugh honesty hour/embarrassing hour), with Instagram and things such as #throwbackThursday, I have wanted to post pictures of my time over there. But I don’t – I don’t post any with me in them because I think people will see the photo and think how much better I looked then (and subsequently how gross I look now). I had subconsciously started to view that time in my life as my “prettiest.” But in the moment, I certainly did not think that! It got me thinking (always dangerous). Somewhere in my mind I had a standard of beauty that I was not meeting while I was in Oxford. And now, I still hold that same standard of beauty but was closer to it in Oxford than I am now? How could that be possible? If I didn’t think I was there in 2008, I certainly can’t think that now (because of time not going backwards, duh). This is probz a little wordy so I’ll try to sum up what I’m trying to convey.
I’ll only be as beautiful as I am right now. There is only one standard of beauty for me and that is however I look in this moment. It doesn’t matter what my future holds and what hairstyle I’ll have in 10 years or the standard of beauty I think I’m not at yet. I can only be beautiful right now, in this moment. But that’s good news! If I’m only beautiful in whatever moment I’m in, I’m always in a moment (because I can only exist one moment at a time, duh) so that means I’m always beautiful! And because I’m beautiful in the moment, once the moment passes, I’ll still be beautiful. So I can look back proudly at Oxford and say, “Dannnnggg girl! You’re right. You did look good.” But now I can also look myself in the mirror, right now, and say, “Dannnnggg girl. You’ll never look more or less beautiful than you look right now.” And that’s a fine standard of beauty to achieve. ***
To get over my insecurity of posting Oxford pictures, here’s a photo of me being extremely excited about seeing Clarence House.
***I’m learning that there is not much of a difference between viewing myself as beautiful and desiring to be healthy. It’s a difficult balance between body acceptance and self-discipline, but I’m working on it.