A couple of things happened this past August that made me wonder about beauty and what it means to be beautiful.

At the beginning of the month, I went to a fancy schmantzy family wedding in Newport, Rhode Island. There were people there I had not seen in decades. (That’s what happens when you move to North Country!) It was a bit unsettling at first as some people remarked how I looked the same and others, how different I looked from the last time we had seen each other. Some knew me as smaller and some as larger. I watched myself reflected in their eyes, and after a few deep breaths, I was okay.

The band was fabulous, with a great brass section so my husband and I danced the night away. Since I’m a pretty good multi-tasker, I watched the wedding guests move their bodies, while I was moving mine. From very young to very old, people were out on the dance floor having a blast. Short bodies, tall bodies, round ones and lean, we were all groovin’ to the music. It was beautiful to watch. And if some were self-conscious about their size, weight, or shape, I couldn’t tell.

You put a bunch of families in the same room and you find similarities and anomalies. One branch of my family is tall and lean. Another one, the one I’m from, tends toward shorter and rounder. (And then there’s my younger sister who is nine inches taller than I am!) All of us were decked out in our evening attire - and beautiful.

Also in August, we adopted a dog from the Adirondack Humane Society. Our Sophie died in January of this year and I have been so missing doggie love and kisses. So after, more than a few visits to the shelter, Roxie is now a part of our family.

What struck me during the selection process was the wide variety of breeds, mixed breeds, shapes, sizes, and weights of the residents. One might say a microcosm of the dog world – and of our own. Now I can’t know for sure, but I don’t think any of the dogs, including Roxie, have low self-esteem because of her/ his weight, size, or shape. And… I’m pretty sure that many dogs have been adopted over the years that do not look like supermodels.

The point? We can be so accepting that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes in the natural world, in animals, plants, trees, and shrubs. But oh how difficult it is for us to accept that our bodies – women’s bodies – come in all shapes and sizes – and are beautiful!

I know this is so hard. I know this is such a challenge. But can we stop comparing ourselves to other women? Can we stop fantasizing that their lives are better, happier than ours because their thighs are thinner or their abs are flatter? Let’s put the focus where it belongs – for each of us – on creating a life worth living. And in that life we are strong, healthy, creative and wonderful women. We take as good care of ourselves as we do the others in our lives. And because of that, we are beautiful!

As the song by Macy Gray goes, “There is beauty in the world. So much beauty in the world. Always beauty in the world. So much beauty in the world.” We are part of that beauty. We come in all shapes and sizes. And yes, we are beautiful!

Author's Bio: 

Ilene Leshinsky is a licensed, clinical social worker with 15 years of counseling experience. In her Plattsburgh-based private practice, she works with women who want more joy and fulfillment in their lives. Ilene’s BodySense program is open to women of all ages who are in conflict with weight, eating, and body image. Look for her BodySense one day retreat at the end of October. She can be reached at 518-570-6164, ilene@primelink1.net, or www.ileneleshinsky.com.