When Michelangelo was asked about a woman he painted in the Sistene Chapel, he stated she was “worthy of admiration simply because she exists; perfection and imperfection together.” These are sage words from a man who, 500 years later, continues to be admired for his depiction of both young and older beautiful women.
It’s like a disease. Women stare into the mirror repeatedly analyzing every blemish, spot, discoloration, line, wrinkle, scar or other perceived imperfection. Feelings range from discomfort to helplessness to utter disgust. Many women who are beautiful unfortunately do not ‘see’ themselves as beautiful. I entered this profession to help people with this problem. Unfortunately, even with all the medical aesthetic procedures available, there are limitations. Despite strides we may make to enhance one’s personal beauty … perceived imperfections may remain.
Do you feel young and beautiful?
We have all heard ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ However, what if you are the beholder and you don’t see beauty in your reflection in the mirror?
Why do so many women struggle with this? Two points need to be stressed.
- You are not necessarily to blame for being critical of your appearance … you have been programmed to be this way.
- Give yourself a break. Odds are you are far more beautiful than you think.
Understandably, those delving into the realms of skin care and antiaging for the first time are sure to be overwhelmed. With ongoing research, new products and improved treatments available every year, even the savvy skin care expert may find it a challenge to keep up. While this book will explore every nuance to lookingyounger, the idea of feeling younger needs to be addressed at the outset. You see, there are countless ways to make you look younger. Feeling younger is another story. Sophia Lauren said it best when she noted:
“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief she is beautiful.”
I have dedicated the last 12 years of my professional life to helping people (primarily women) look more beautiful and presumably feel more beautiful. However, anyone involved in the medical aesthetics profession, from clinic manager to aesthetician to doctor knows that improving outer beauty does not equate to an inner feeling of beauty.
Why does one woman come in to the office, receive a simple treatment, check the mirror and say “beautiful” and walk out smiling while others struggle? Some are never satisfied with their appearance no matter how extensively or how frequently they receive treatments.
When you see a picture of a beautiful woman, don’t believe for a second they believe they are as beautiful as you think they are. In fact, my experience is that someone who is considered gorgeous by most, quite commonly is unable to see the beauty the rest of us see.
Our self-image develops through a complicated interplay between cultural ideas, life experiences, the media and accumulated comments by others. The end result is not necessarily a distortion of reality, it is ourreality. Studies have shown that a person’s eye is drawn to the eyes and nose of someone they meet or when viewing a picture of an unknown individual. If a young girl was teased about having a big nose, regardless of how beautiful she is as an adult, chances are she is going to check that nose when she looks in the mirror. She will focus on it more than most anyone else will.
Women who suffered through years of acne as a teen will understandably become unsettled with a new pimple. One woman is focused on a pimple and another focused on her nose. Largely it is human nature. My goal is certainly help you to look and feel younger. Point is, looking younger and feeling younger doesn’t always go hand in hand. Changing one’s self –perception is very possible, in fact probable, if you first become aware of it.
When you meet someone, or look at a picture of them you are seeing a single moment in time. In their mind lies a culmination of every positive or negative comment received throughout their lifetime. Vanderbilt University psychologist, David Schlundt notes, “All of your experiences, all the teasing you went through as a child, all the self-consciousness you had as a teenager, and all the worrying about whether you would be accepted as good enough or attractive enough are called forth in how people think of themselves.”
Dr. Vivian Diller, a psychologist and past Wilhelmina model who treats X-dancers and models agrees, “Your upbringing and the criticisms you heard as a child set a strong foundation for your self-perception in adulthood.” Conversely, those who believe themselves to be beautiful may not be beautiful at all by society’s standards. Chances are, in the formative years they received a steady diet of positive feedback from friends and loved ones.
The point to remember is that everyone has beauty. However, the beauty you have is under attack. You are programmed to think you need to be more beautiful than you are. It is not your fault whatsoever. In order for you to feel beautiful about yourself, it is of paramount importance that you become aware of what it is around you that is literally attacking your sense of inner beauty.
The multi-billion dollar cosmetic, skin care and hair industries are well aware that many do not feel beautifulenough. This comes in many forms; the media, the corporate world and society in general.
Imagine opening up a copy of Cosmopolitan or Vogue magazine. There is an image of a woman poised to sell you a product or service. Let’s say it is an anti-aging moisturizer. She is blemish, wrinkle and age spot free with a radiant and glowing face. She will have a flat stomach, thin legs and her weight will be 25% less than the average weight of a US female. (For the record in the US = 5 Ft. 4 in and 166#). What is the message? Buy this product and look like her. We use the product and while it might help, most women are not going to look like ‘her’. Maybe you just need to buy more … or perhaps there is a more expensive option to look beautiful! The corporate world does not want you to feel completely satisfied with your looks. You are exposed to this repeatedly over and over until you literally become programmed into believing that you need to look better than you do.
Nobody goes to see a Star Wars movie and leaves worrying that Darth Vader is going to attack them in the parking lot. It’s fantasy. It’s not real. The ads you see of perfect faces and bodies are, in many ways, fantasy as well. I know I will never be as handsome as George Clooney, Elvis, or Cary Grant, but I can make strides to move in that direction. Moving in the right direction is good. Expecting to fully get there along with the body of Michelangelo’s David, is setting me up for disappointment. I know that. Try your best to know it too. Advertisements are just that, someone trying to sell you something. Realize it and absorb it. You don’t see these people in your typical day walking through the grocery store, mall or Walmart. If you did, you and everyone around you may do a double take.
In the 21st century social media comes at us as well. Teenagers and young adults are exposed to a barrage of social media images that many of us were not when we were teens. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are part of our psyche and are chuck-full of more images for our youth (and adults) to look at and compare to. These platforms are perfect venues for women to show others how beautiful they are. Many are on the edge of their seat to see how many ‘likes’ they can get. This can help some feel beautiful, and others feel less beautiful. National Institutes of Health researcher, Heather Patrick states, “We compare how we think we look to how other people look, and make a decision about whether we’re much better or much worse.”
When it comes to getting a job, beauty matters big-time. Whether the hiring manager admits to it or not is immaterial. In a study performed in St. Louis, researchers looked at perceived beauty vs. income. People perceived as ‘beautiful’ made 14% more than those perceived to be unattractive.
I began as a family physician where we are taught to treat the entire person. Many come to a doctor’s office or medical spa in an attempt to enhance their beauty or simply look younger. There is nothing wrong with this at all. Having the right skin care regimen or medical aesthetic procedures can make a world of difference. Unlike many skin care professionals, I do not stop there. Let’s take it a step further. After you have had a procedure or treatment to make your appearance more aesthetically pleasing, let’s look at how we can allow that outer beauty to seep inside.
Identify and replace negative inner dialogue:
Inner dialogue: During a typical day ask yourself four important questions:
- What did I see or hear today that made me question my beauty?
- What did you saying to yourself?
- What feelings arose in you? Are you happy? Angry? Disappointed? Anxious?
- How often are you saying it?
The Young and Beautiful Replacement:
If that inner dialogue is telling you things like “I am not pretty enough” or “I will never be as beautiful as _____,” replace it with something positive. This may seem trite or silly (I thought it was the first time I tried it) but study after study as shown that what we tell ourselves has an immense impact on many aspects of our life. It improves posture, sleep, productivity and reduces fear and anxiety.
As yourself: “What is good about you? Are you a good friend? Devoted mother? Valued employee?” And … “What do you like about your appearance?” Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but if the beholder is you and you don’t like what you see in the mirror, we need to change something. The best results are changes to the outside and inside.
Never underestimate how powerful this inner dialogue can be. We are talking about beauty here, however women (and men) have had an inner dialogue that convinced them to stay in an abusive relationship and have died in many cases because of it. Heavy duty stuff for sure but it makes my point of how powerful our inner dialogue is.
My suggestion is that when this nasty inner dialogue tries to take a hold of your psyche, identify it and replace it with something … anything positive. It is like throwing water on a tiny fire before it gains momentum and literally burns up your self-image. You are beautiful … don’t forget it.
Thank you for reading and be well … and beautiful.
Dean M. Tomasello, MD