Written by Katie Steedly Curling, PhD, writer, and guest blogger for the Turner Syndrome Foundation. Katie writes monthly about her experiences living with Turner Syndrome. In this article, she discusses recognizing your beauty in a world that often focuses on the external.
You’ve got to get up every morning
with a smile on your face,
and show the world all the love in your heart.
Then people gonna treat you better.
You’re gonna find, yes you will,
that you’re beautiful as you feel.Carole King, “Beautiful”
Concept of Beauty
I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of beauty. It crosses my mind especially during the summer, when everyone is typically in bathing suits by the pool or beach while on vacation. I live in Miami, where it is a perpetual battle not to curl up in a blanket, in comfy clothes, and eat a hot fudge sundae, rather than wear my trusty tankini and enjoy the water somewhere amazing. But not feeling beautiful can lead to missing out on life.
I had an 8-track tape player as a child (for those of you too young to know what this is, you can Google it). It was bright yellow, and I changed the tracks by pressing in a handle on top of the machine. Hours turned to days and days turned to years as I listened to music through it. My parents had an 8-track of Tapestry, by Carole King, and she was one of my favorite singers. One of my favorite tracks on Tapestry was “Beautiful.” If I had a dollar for every time I listened to that song, I would be a gazillionaire. I tell this story to illustrate the point that, even as a child (long enough ago to be listening to an 8-track), hearing that I was beautiful, and taking that message to heart, was truly important.
Recognizing Your Beauty
I still struggle to see myself as beautiful. That is probably the case for most women, but Turner Syndrome can make it even harder for me to recognize my beauty. My beauty gets lost in between not enough and too much. Not tall enough. Not skinny enough. My neck is too wide, my fingers are too chubby, my skin has too many moles. Even my elbows are too pointy. That is the external separation from beauty I experience when I am in a compare-myself-to-everyone, judgmental frame of mind.
Internal vs. External Beauty
As a creature of consumer culture, my brain is not wired to understand the notion that internal beauty is equally, or perhaps more, important than external beauty. I know in my head and heart that there is no beauty without internal beauty, but society sells us a different story. I, for one, am tired of buying the external beauty story. Maybe it’s because age is softening my inner critic, or because I have met beautiful people of all descriptions, or because beauty and ugliness are so apparent when it comes to looking at people’s actions. I am not sure which it is.
Today, I know Carole King had it right. Our beauty is dependent on the love we share with the world. We respond to love with love, and that is beautiful. We are as beautiful as we feel!
To see Katie’s last post, Figure and Ground: Perceptions of Living with Turner Syndrome, click here.
For more resources on living with TS, check out these resources on the TSF website.