In the past I have struggled with my self-image. Sometimes I feel beautiful, sometimes I don’t. It isn’t abnormal and it doesn’t mean that I don’t love myself. In fact, it’s probably more truthful to say that I struggle with my self-image in relation to what I think a man wants. And that is unfair to me. I had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t owe men anything. I don’t owe you a perfect body. I don’t owe you a made-up face. I don’t owe you manicured hands or perfect hair. I don’t owe you shit.

I have to take ownership of my feelings. And I have to realize that beauty is not a property or a characteristic of me, it’s a statement of pleasure or displeasure, a sum of my properties and characteristics. And I have to find a way to disentangle everyone else’s notion of what it means to “be beautiful” from my self-esteem. I have to find what makes me “feel beautiful” but even then that won’t be enough.

“when a man puts a thing on a pedestal and calls it beautiful, he demands the same delight from others…Thus he says that the thing is beautiful and…he demands this agreement of them. He blames them if they judge differently, and denies them taste.” –Immanuel Kant

While I might not BE beautiful to everyone, I can always feel beautiful. Even still, I understand that beauty is a loaded concept that carries psychological, ideological and aesthetic baggage with it everywhere it goes. Something so shaky should not be the foundation on which I build any image of self because I am rarely ever challenged to define “beauty”, be it physical beauty or otherwise. Instead, I throw the concept around freely when I am too lazy to truly explain how something or some person (in this case myself) makes me feel.

Instead, I’ll decode the meaning of beauty, isolate those concepts and then work my way up. In doing so, I might learn that feeling beautiful means nothing more than feeling confident, happy, loved, appreciated, and cherished internally as well as feeling them as they are expressed by others and maybe that’s fine. At least then, I will have defined it for myself.