The beauty beast is the inner beauty critic; the one who puts us down whenever we step foot near a mirror.
Pretty much all women have one. Of course there must be beast-free women out there who don't criticise themselves and live in a state of bliss and self love, but have you met any? If so I would love to hear all about it in the comments section below.
I can imagine how some men who may be reading this might be thinking 'WTF: there are gorgeous, confident and intimidating women everywhere: there is no way most women are as insecure as you suggest".
But seriously, don't be deceived by appearances: most beauty beasts are camouflage artists. Not only do they seek to deceive others, many of them have convinced their hosts that they don't exist. For denial of the beauty beast's existence is crucial to its survival.
So don't be fooled: chances are a beauty beast is lurking just beneath the surface of any seemingly confident and attractive woman. However, there is one place a beauty beast will always reveal itself: the mirror. The mirror draws out beauty beasts like moths to a flame. Beauty beasts are also known to slip out during deep and meaningful conversations when we feel safe enough to share our insecurities and vulnerabilities.
Some women are in beast denial: they aren't even aware they have one at all. These sneaky little beasts are the nastiest, and I speak from personal experience when I say that you can go through your whole life and not even realise the beast is there. How? Because you have believed the beast's bullsh%t so much that when you look into the mirror, you see yourself as a beast. And before you give yourself another moment to contemplate or question the nasty things the beast tells you about yourself, you grab your makeup brush and hurriedly start ‘covering’, ‘concealing’, ‘correcting’ and ‘camouflaging’ yourself so that you can feel human enough to go into public with a face like yours.
Beauty beasts live inside of our heads: deeply embedded within our subconscious, they remind us throughout the day that we aren't good, pretty, slim or young enough. And as a result, many of our daily activities and behaviours are spent feeding and silencing these beasts: we go shopping when we truly don't need anything, eat when we aren't hungry and don't eat when we are. We buy a $200 anti-ageing serum on impulse even though we have no idea what ingredients it contains. We drink an entire bottle of red wine to ourselves even after we told ourselves last time that we would never do it again, and we convince ourselves that sleeping with emotionally unavailable boys and hoping they someday approve of you is a good idea (usually after the bottle of wine). These beasts have us convinced that we are ugly, average, fat, old and unworthy.
But the reality couldn't be further from the truth.
My beast used to run my life and it prevented me from doing most of the things I wanted to do. And ironically, at the the time I had no idea I even had one. My beauty beast was particularly hideous: nasty and relentless, with its outstanding camouflage artistry it had everyone (including me) fooled since adolescence. By age 18 I would binge eat and then quickly go to the bathroom and bring it all back up because I was scared of cellulite. But did I think I was insecure? Did I think that I had issues? Did I feel like I was at the mercy of a beast? Actually...no. On the outside I appeared pretty damn confident. Even arrogant. I'd bought my own act, and never did I stop for long enough to reflect or question myself. It was all go go go, keeping myself incredibly busy to avoid the pain I was running from.
What pain you might ask? Well, the fact that I didn't feel I was enough. That I was unworthy of my own desires. I'm pretty sure most people know what this feels like? But we all under-estimate just how much this subconsciously impacts our lives. The vast majority of us carry pain of feeling unworthy, invaluable or not enough, and because we refuse to face this pain, it ironically ends up ruling our lives.
Im sure beauty beasts have been around for centuries, but in today's world, there is a beast epidemic: by comparing ourselves to images of the 'ideal female beauty' that mainstream media and advertisements bombard us with (which have become more and more unrealistic and impossible to achieve over the last few decades) it means that no matter what we do... we can never feel good enough. And since only 5% of women actually possess the characteristics of the 'ideal female beauty', it means that the other 95% of us must resort to starvation or surgery. So many women devote such a large portion of their time, money and energy trying to look good and barely any trying to figure out who they really are and want to be... in the end only to wind up feeling exhausted and disappointed.
Can you relate? I've got some questions to ask you...
If you woke up tomorrow and felt like you were finally good enough, what would you spend your time and energy doing...?
And do we want to leave a legacy of self-loathing, self-medication, retail therapy addiction, eating disorders and fear of ageing to the next generation? Do we really want our daughters to grow up in a world where they will spend most their time, money and energy trying to change themselves to fit into a completely insane and unachievable ideal? Or do we want them to learn to love and accept themselves and celebrate what makes them unique?
The thing is, despite what you may tell your daughter, chances are that she will just copy you and inherit your belief systems and behaviour patterns. So the best way break the cycle is to change yourself. Start by loving yourself in as many new possible ways you can think of.
The only way to overcome the beast is to face it, with love.
The path from powerlessness to empowerment is one of self-awareness and self love.
And until you learn to fully accept and love yourself, you will never be free to simply be you.
So if you want beast-release, you must face it and feel it in order to be free of it (like with all difficult emotions).
Here are 8 steps that I think will help you get some beast-release... but remember: everyone is different. Your journey is completely unique: try new things & always do what feels the best for you. Only you know what is best for you. Rather than getting lost in the chattering mind and caring what other people think, learn to listen to your hearts guidance. And above all: never give up. Stop brushing your "silly insecurities" off as trivial. They aren't, at all. They affect every decision you make. And if you take these steps seriously, they could change your whole life.
Step 1. Face the Beast
Admit it: the beast is real. And as long as it lurks in the corners of your subconscious, it will run your life. Begin the process of facing the beast: bring it out of the shadows and confront it head on.
Step 2. Listen to the Beast with Compassion
Start by looking into the mirror, straight into your eyes. Notice all the unkind things it says to you. But this time, don't believe everything it says, just listen to what it has to say and observe how this makes you feel. Tell it that maybe its wrong.
Step 3. Realise the Beast is Actually a Misinformed Child
Realise that this hideous ugly beast is actually just a misinformed child who needs love and education. Be ultra compassionate, patient and forgiving for all its misconceptions. Tell it that you understand where it's coming from, but that it has been misled. Tell it that you will no longer allow any more unkind remarks and will be monitoring it from now onwards.
Step 4. Share the Beast
One evening I was in my kitchen with a lifelong friend having a D & M conversation that got deeper than usual. My friend shared a story with me that exposed one of her biggest insecurities, and then matter-of-factly added “but I’m sure you've never had that kind of problem”. My jaw dropped... “Are you serious!!?” I shrieked in disbelief, “I have always been outrageously insecure about that!?” and to prove it I shared a shame-filled confession of my own.
We both just stood there staring at each other in shocked silence that after 25 years of friendship we had only just discovered this about each other. It made me wonder… if a "talkative open book" like me doesn’t share my deepest insecurities with even my closest of friends, then surely most women are the same, or worse?
Sharing is Caring
I have experienced and witnessed many times the profound healing that people can get from simply getting things off their chest. Sharing and expressing ourselves is an opportunity to get release, be heard and seen and receive support from others.
But balance is essential: too often many of us get stuck in our stories: replaying them over and over again and discussing the surface issues over rather than going a little deeper into the underlying root cause of the problems. So with that in mind: join a sister sharing circle, pick a topic you have never fully opened up about and start sharing your feelings and thoughts in a safe space. You will realise that you are far from alone and will get much out of it.
And if that seems like way too terrifying of an idea, try writing in a journal or diary: just pick up a pen and start writing whatever comes to mind: explore yourself, express yourself. Burn it afterwards if it makes you feel better. The point is: get it out. I guarantee you you will feel way more lighter and clearer.
Step 5. Give it a dose of reality
Start sharing your beauty beast with others and it will give them the chance to support you with much needed reality checks (and just a heads up: letting in the support/love/truth that follows the sharing of your beast will probably be the most challenging part of the process). Whatever you do... try not to let the beast reject their compliments/loving words of affirmation by brushing them off as incorrect, biased or insincere. If you're having trouble believing them, think about it this way: you can quite effortlessly see the beauty in all of your friends can't you? Well, they can see it in you.
We ladies need a serious reality check. I got one at beauty school one day during an activity where we had to determine what eye shape all the girls in the class had. I was absolutely positively sure that when it was my turn, they would state the obvious: I have protruding eyes. All my life I'd believed beyond any doubt that this was the type of eye shape I had (but I'd never shared this belief with anyone because it was a "flaw" I was ashamed of and therefore avoided bringing any attention to it). Sure enough, when it was my turn to be judged, they all just looked at me and quickly agreed: I have normal almond eyes. My mind nearly exploded: it turned out that for all those years I was just completely deluded.
And when I started working as a professional Makeup Artist (MUA) I then realised how deluded 95% of women are about the way they look or "should look". In fact, becoming a MUA gave me an entirely new perspective on women. Suddenly women were sharing things with me that they normally would have kept a secret. No matter what my clients looked like, many of them would all do the exact same thing: I’d sit down face to face with them, remove their makeup, and stare at their bare face for a few moments while I took in their unique facial features to determine what kind of makeup I would do for them. And for many of them this brief but confronting process was simply too much for them to bare: it would stir their beauty beasts like waving a piece of fresh meat in front of a hungry lion, and they would begin involuntarily unloading their insecurities and delusions onto me.
Even though these women were only paying me to paint makeup on their fact, I could see that deep down inside, beyond the grip of their beauty beast, they wanted much more: beast release; freedom from self-judgement, self-acceptance and fearless uninhibited self-expression. Deep down all these women really wanted was to be able to recognise their own beauty.
Should beauty professionals be trained in counselling?
I began to wonder: in a world filled with so many beautiful and yet ridiculously insecure and deluded women, should all beauty industry professionals also be trained in counselling? Where can women get the help they need to overcome their beauty beasts? Sure, there are counsellors out there, but how many women would actually go out of their way to sit down and talk about their beauty beasts. Not many. This is exactly why I created my Beauty Boss Makeover.
So my point is: when you look in the mirror, are you really seeing reality...? What lens are you looking through? And is it one of self-criticism or self-love?
Step 6. Practice Kind Mindfulness
Pay attention to your self talk: monitor your thoughts and notice how they make you feel. Stop choosing thoughts that make you feel negative and start focusing on thoughts that make you feel light, happy and inspired.
But when negative feelings come up (which they will) be present to them: give them your full attention, drop them down from your head to your belly and really feel them and allow them to be and follow their full course, so they can be released.
Begin cultivating a kinder new voice within you. We all have a nurturing inner wise women ready to shower us with all the love and support we are all worthy of. Like using a new muscle, at first when you tell yourself that you are beautiful, it will feel weak and untrue. But the more you use this muscle, the stronger it will become, and by the time you know it, it will be the new norm.
It takes time to reverse decades of beast programming, so be patient and gentle with yourself and make sure you take the time out to celebrate and congratulate yourself for every small win.
Step 7. Practice Self-Loving Mirror Affirmations
I cannot emphasize more: mirror affirmations/exercises have profound potential for personal transformation.
But I'm not going to lie: looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself, is incredibly challenging at first. In fact, its such a horrible thing to do at first, that you've really just got to laugh. I mean, we are so used to being mean to ourselves in the mirror that when we actually do say something nice it almost physically hurts. Its almost repulsive: it feels like the greatest lie ever. My advice is laugh it off and keep trying. Don't take yourself too seriously.
I have personally really struggled with mirror affirmations because it was something completely new and alien to me, but after I keep trying, there were a couple of spontaneous times I suddenly caught my own reflection and in a flash felt myself hold back an unkind beast comment and replace it with just a simple look of compassion and appreciation. For the first time is was real, not forced, and the realisation that I had finally managed to have a breakthrough and effortlessly love myself in such a simple way instantaneously brought me to tears: it was so beautiful that my heart wept happy tears. It was heart-opening and healing. And once you break through the barrier of self-criticism, mirror affirmations become very interesting because you can start telling yourself all kinds of amazing things. Mirror work is incredibly powerful, so trust me sisters: keep at it, it's going to be well worth the effort and initial discomfort.
Start looking for your beauty & truth as relentlessly as you have looked for your flaws... and you will soon find it.
Step 8. Become a Compliment Slut
How many times have you been with a friend and kept thinking how lovely she looked but never told her? And why didn’t you tell her? Because you assumed she already knew?
Ladies, don't be fooled by each others beast's performance: if we all realised just how insecure most of our fellow sisters are, I'm sure we would all be showering each other with compliments/words of affirmation. And Im not talking about fake ones - make sure everything you are saying is sincere. Not just because your friend will probably be able to tell if its sincere or not, but also because in this universe, we must treat others how we wish to be treated, for everything you send out comes straight back to you.
Can we please unite together in a compliment slut sisterhood and start spreading the love, truth and beauty?? We ladies need it. The world needs it. (of course we should give plenty of loving compliments to men too - it's just that this article has been specifically written for women's self esteem issues - gentle men I promise I shall write one for you soon too).
Ladies - it's time to stand up and unplug from The Beauty Myth: share those beauty truths and start dishing out the compliments left right and centre to friends, family, and complete strangers. Let them know about all the beauty you see in them.
Do it for your daughters and future generations. Do it for the brave women who marched for your rights all those generations ago. Do not let their hard work go in vain by allowing yourself to remain a slave to your beauty beast. Rise up to the challenge of today: love and accept yourself.
It is time to break free from the spell of The Beauty Myth and become the bosses of our beauty, and of our lives. Release the beast with love so you can step more fully into your truth and beauty, for it is your birthright to feel good in your own skin.
Remember that beauty is far from skin deep. You ARE beauty. You were born beautiful and you will die beautiful. You simply need to be yourself and love yourself for you for who you are, rather than trying to be something your not. This is why they say that confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear: because it's true: nothing is more beautiful than someone who loves and values themselves, and doesn't need the approval of others. Practice self-discovery and self-acceptance, and you will soon discover that the beauty beast is nothing but a fearful little grain of sand when compared to the powerful sun that is self-love.
"She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her" - Naomi Wolf, Author of The Beauty Myth