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What is beauty? What makes one person more beautiful than another? Why do some people seem to have a magnetism about them that draws people to them? Have you ever thought someone was totally gorgeous and another person didn’t agree with your opinion? Beauty, like art, is subjective.  What one person is attracted to another isn’t.

I pondered this question the other day when I missed my usual bus to TAFE and ended up taking the high school bus that goes the same way.  It was, of course, full of loud, boisterous teenagers in various shapes and sizes. Along the way, a young girl got on, head bowed down, shoulders slightly slumped and she quietly sat down, trying to be as invisible as possible.

She was a  very pretty girl.  Large, velvet brown eyes, encased in long, dark, thick eyelashes, framed beautiful by dark, neat, slightly straight eyebrows.  Her lips were full and her skin olive and just lightly sunkissed.  Her long, straight, dark, glossy hair was pulled back off her face into a pony tail.  She had a very athletic body with long, tanned legs.  Now, before you even think it, I’m not some sort of pervert.  I was on my way to photography classes so I was looking at her, in my mind, through the camera lens.

I used to sell make up by party plan and one of the ways we used to have a really successful sales night was to pick a woman or girl who was unaware of her beauty and use her as a model.  Everyone would be blown away by the change in her after she was all done up.  This girl is the girl I would have chosen for just that role.  With very little make up, she would stop traffic.  There were lots of girls on the bus who were getting all the young boys attention who were nowhere near as pretty as this particular girl.  Why then, didn’t she have the boys hanging all over her?

Confidence.. or should I say, lack of! This beauty was trying so hard not to be noticed by anyone.  It was clear she had no understanding of how beautiful she really was.  Her hunched shoulders and averted eyes screamed to the world “DON’T LOOK AT ME”.  I wanted to go up to her and tell her how beautiful she really was but her misery and embarrassment would have been way too much for her to cope with.  Maybe she was being bullied by kids at school which had eroded her confidence? Who knows? All I know is, if she had some confidence, she would have knocked the socks off everyone who ever came in contact with her.

She made me think of myself as a teenager.  I had no confidence in myself though I did have a chip on my shoulder, so while it may have looked like I was confident, I was really just angry with the world.  That isn’t attractive either yet is often mistaken for confidence. True confidence is a thing of beauty. It is something I didn’t have either.

Aussies, at least in my youth, were always told to be humble.  We weren’t allowed to “blow our own trumpets”.  Once again, a lack of confidence is often mistaken for humility.  That is as wrong as confidence vs attitude.  True humility doesn’t feel inferior. True humility, while remaining modest is also all about being respectful…. to another person, to others beliefs and ideas and also to one’s self.  Respecting and believing in yourself goes hand in hand with confidence.  If you believe in yourself, you don’t have to convince others of your qualities.  They will see them anyway.

We live in a world where physical beauty is considered more important than other attributes. I can remember going to a party with a large group of friends, one of whom had just started going out with a new girlfriend.  She was a very attractive lady, no doubt about that but, her treatment of him was appalling.  He asked if she wanted a drink, she yelled and humiliated him because he dared have to ask her instead of just getting it for her.  When he went, tail between his legs, to get her drink, he returned with what he THOUGHT she would like, as she refused to tell him her preference, and then he copped another mouthful from her because he got it wrong.  We all looked on, gobsmacked that anyone would talk to another human being that way, let alone someone you were in a relationship with.  We were even more stunned that he just took it.  Why? Because she was physically attractive and he felt better when she was hanging off his arm.

It was his lack of confidence that allowed him to be treated that way. Any one of us can appear much more beautiful when we are happy within ourselves. If he had been more respectful of himself, he would never have let another human speak to him that way, regardless of her beauty. If he had been more confident in himself, he wouldn’t feel he needed a physically attractive woman hanging off his arm, to be acceptable.  He is who he is.  A good person.  He was no better or no worse than if he had a bevy of beauties hanging off his arms.  You can’t borrow another person’s beauty but you can make your own.

I remember my cousin telling me one day, that a guy she was seeing said to her, “the sexiest thing a woman can wear is confidence”.  He’s so right.  The same goes for men too.  We are all attracted to confident people.  Confident people are happy people.  Of course they may have outside influences that stress or worry them, but they believe in themselves so don’t stay down as long.

I so wanted to produce a crystal ball and show the young girl on the bus who she will turn into.  I wish I had been shown who I would turn into.  I’m finally comfortable with myself.  My teenage self wasn’t.  She was awkward and didn’t fit into herself.  When I look back now at who I was and how I looked, my perception of myself was so wrong.  I picked every fault in myself and blew it out of all proportion.  Even on my wedding day I felt insecure.  I look at photos now and wonder how my view of myself was so wrong.  Nowadays, I’m happy with myself.  I could still use some improvement but I’m comfortable within my own skin.

My mum always said you can’t put an old head on young shoulders and I guess she was right.  We come to middle age with a new appreciation for life and ourselves because of the insecurities of youth.  We can hopefully help the next generation become the best they can be and feel good about themselves by being an example.  If we don’t constantly criticise ourselves, perhaps our kids will be kinder to themselves too. We can only hope that to be the case.

Young girl on the bus, if by some streak of luck, you’re reading this, remember, you are beautiful.. One day, you won’t feel quite so awkward in your own skin.  One day, you will realise you have been extremely blessed by nature.  One day you’ll understand that if people are being mean to you, they do so because they are insecure in themselves and you’ll learn to pity them.  And most importantly, one day you’ll realise that looks are transient anyway, it’s who you are on the inside that really matters.. and you looked like a gorgeous girl inside and out.  Never stop believing in yourself.. You matter.

Happy confidence building… Livvy 🙂

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