Learning to look and love. Diary of a modern woman.
By Laura Poole
About five years ago, after a massive breakup, I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, and realized I still didn’t like what I saw. Even after years of meditation, self-development courses, inner work, healings, relationships... I still had a dislike for my physical form. All I saw were the things that I thought needed to ‘be better’. More this, less that. A close but not quite enough. All stemming from a warped idea of perfection that had been ingrained into the young teenage version of myself through magazines, TV, movies, a casting agent that said ‘don’t smile so big, it doesn’t make your face look good’. Reiterated through social interaction with those who were also culturally indoctrinated into the modern idea of beauty as self worth.
I knew too much already to ignore what was happening. Part of the double-edged sword of self-awareness. So in that moment, I set myself a challenge. You will no longer wear makeup until you can look in the mirror at your bare naked face and LOVE IT. Till you look and smile and care for your own self like you would your own child. Till every little freckled, pimpled, darkened spot of that face is accepted and loved for what it is. That was the beginning of the naked face phase of my life. Which let me tell you, was so much more then saving $50 on mascara every few months. It was part of the radical decision to change the deeply ingrained idea of self-worth and lovability as a woman being determined by how your body looked. Cause if I couldn’t love myself, just the way I was, then how could I ever accept anyone else’s love of me, just the way I am?
This was part of the unraveling that occurred when my heart was hurting and all I wanted to do was find love somewhere else and get rid of the pain. It seems small. Maybe even ‘superficial’, to look at yourself in the mirror and like what you see. But this was part of a deeper narrative. A story of love, self-worth, social hypnosis and breaking free from the idea that love will come if you just get that next little thing right...
And did anything actually change with my appearance? Of course not. It was the same body. Same face. Reflected back every day. But the one who was doing the looking... that is what changed. The perception that had been trained to see flaw and judge, transformed into a perception that accepted, honored and loved.
For if you can learn to look and hate. You can also learn to look and love.