I took a moment to put on my makeup. Some people would argue that it was pointless.
What was the point? I wasn’t going anywhere. It was a zoom call. But I put on makeup and my favorite pair of jeans anyway. Wearing them always makes me feel good about myself..
The COVID-19 quarantine period limited opportunities to get dressed up and put on make-up. I found this strangely disheartening. But it did help me pause and reflect about what it means to feel beautiful.
When do I feel beautiful?
I feel beautiful when I braid my hair and have taken the time to reduce some of its frizziness. I feel beautiful when I wear my favorite pair of jeans that fit me perfectly.
Then I started thinking about how I act when I feel beautiful. I’m more confident. I laugh more, and I’m more outgoing.
My curiosity had been sparked, so I reached out to other women with an informal survey.
I asked over 40 women the following questions:
1. When do you feel most beautiful?
2. How do you act when you feel beautiful?
Here are some of the responses I received to the second question:
Most of the other responses were a simple “confident”. I don’t know why the consistency of the answer surprised me, but it did.
We all know that physical appearance isn’t the most important quality about a person. Other qualities supersede physical beauty, like character and overall physical health. But how we feel about our appearance does impact our emotional and mental state, and even our behavior.
Feeling beautiful creates confidence and openness that helps us engage with other people more positively.
I know I’d like to feel that way more often. So what makes us feel beautiful? Here are the responses I received from question 1, which I organized into three categories.
One friend noted the following:
“Feeling beautiful” starts with making sure I have consistent time to physically take care of my body… exercise, sufficient rest, healthy food. When I feel good physically, then having time to put on a little makeup, do my hair, and wear something flattering feels like the final bit of polish.”
These answers varied a little. Some women stated that wearing a nice outfit or putting on makeup contributed to feelings of beauty, but a few said they felt most beautiful when they felt comfortable. Others said they felt most beautiful after taking care of their hair or when they took time to engage in healthy physical activity.
The common thread seems to be doing something that makes you feel good, not doing something for someone else or because you’re expected to.
Oddly enough, few women responded by saying they felt beautiful when people told them they were beautiful.
When they did give this response, they said it in relation to someone they love or in being around people they loved.
For example, one of my friend’s noted that she doesn’t usually describe herself as beautiful, but that she feels beautiful when her husband or father tells her she is. She said she was more inclined to believe this statement from people close to her that she trusted.
Another said she felt most beautiful when she surrounded herself with people who believed she was beautiful, such as her husband.
“While dressing up and doing your hair and makeup does tend to make you feel beautiful, being comfortable is definitely the key. Usually that’s my favorite tee shirt and jeans paired with time with family and friends.”
For others, feeling beautiful was related to beliefs in a spiritual connection with God. One woman noted that ‘God has made everything beautiful in its time.’ Another told me that she believes God made her unique and with a purpose, and when she focuses on this, she feels beautiful.
I love the idea that there is beauty in human connection, in the time we share with those closest to us.
Finally, many responded by saying they felt beautiful when they were helping other people, doing something they loved, or feeling happy. My favorite response may have been, “My favorite look is a natural eye look paired with a dirty face from a day of gardening.”
One friend summed it up when she said she felt most beautiful when she was being her most authentic self. She noted that this manifests itself in different ways.
“I honestly feel the most beautiful when I’m being my most authentic self. When I feel free to be me, I feel beautiful—whether that’s being all glammed out for a night on the town or having a lazy day at home.”
Reading through these responses reminded me that feeling beautiful and looking pretty are two different things. Feeling beautiful has more to do with taking care of yourself and expressing yourself authentically than it does with living up to today’s beauty standards or how you compare to other people.
What makes you feel beautiful will be different from what makes someone else feel beautiful. And that’s okay.
Pay attention to what makes you feel beautiful, take care of yourself, surround yourself with good people and live authentically.
That would at least be a good start to living a beautiful life.