beauty

'Sam Armytage knows she's beautiful. And I know I'm beautiful, too.'

I’m beautiful. There, I said it.

It’s taken me 34 years to be able to write those two words down. And even now, I’m cringing reading them back; mentally readying myself for the backlash of Internet pitchfork-wielders rushing in to correct me with insults.

And trust me, as a sex and body-positive female journalist who often expresses my opinions on national TV and radio, I’ve heard it all before.

“I wouldn’t root her if you paid me”, “Get over yourself you ugly whore”, and – the more horrifying; “You deserve a good upper cut to the jaw”.

Because women who radiate self-confidence and dare to own their sexuality need to be taken down, put back in our place, and – apparently – threatened.

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Which is why, a year ago, if you’d commended me on penning a great essay, I’d have been lightning-quick to point out several writers who were much more skilled than me. If you told me my skin looked great, I excelled at putting it off to good makeup, or lighting, or camera angles. And if you had of suggested I was beautiful? Well, I’d have become incredibly uncomfortable and reacted as though there was something horribly wrong with your eyesight, of course.

Because, that’s what beautiful women are expected to do, isn’t it? Never for a second stop to express a hint of knowledge that we look good – we’re meant to hate ourselves, and our bodies; anything else would just be arrogant.

Like most of the population, I really believed that. I wasted thousands of hours of my precious life pinching at folds on my stomach, scorning my breasts for not being big enough or round enough, and scanning my face for imperfections.

Then something happened.

Maybe it was coming into my mid-thirties, or maybe it was stopping and taking a good long hard look at myself in the mirror one day after years of therapy – but I saw a sexy, beautiful woman looking back at me, and I radically decided to own it.

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When I swipe through photos of myself on my phone, or watch back a TV interview I did nowadays, I don’t see the hint of fat under my chin, the way my top lip disappears when I smile, or any of the other hundred-and-one faults I used to zero in on with the focus of an Olympic gymnast on a balance beam. I see an attractive woman. And I really, really don’t care whether you agree with me or not (so please, spare me the essay-length comments on all the ways I’m wrong).

It’s your problem, not mine, if a woman owning her beauty ignites animosity in you. That says more about who you are as a person, than it does about me. Because I don’t find self-confident women arrogant, I find them brave.

When I read Samantha Armytage’s column, ‘Don’t attack me for being beautiful’ in Stellar magazine this week, I smiled. We desperately need more women in the media like Sam. Women who aren’t afraid to break the unspoken rule of femininity and actually openly love themselves, inside, and yes – *gasp* – outside, too.

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And then I scrolled down to the comments and saw the familiar vitriol of hatred and abuse just about any woman who’s ever dared to express an unconventional opinion in a public forum has experienced.

“Self-obsessed, eternally requiring validation and manically self-publicising,” one commenter wrote.

“Few tickets on yourself there Sam” came another. And then, “Who in the heck is she trying to kid? Her mirror mirror on the wall is telling her porkies.”

Sadly, like me, I’m sure Sam’s slowly come to accept these comments as a part of the landscape of being a woman in the public eye. Because we still live in a society that continually pressures us to loathe the way we look and publicly crucifies anyone who dares rail against that.

Day 1; Tower Bridge!????

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Which is why, admitting you’re beautiful in a culture that does its best to tear women down at every opportunity, is in fact, the ultimate act of rebellion. What Sam was saying in her column this week, for those that actually bothered to read it all the way through to the end before jumping on their keyboards, had nothing to do with conceitedness and everything to do with radical self love. And I can’t think of anything more attractive than that.

So I’ll write this one more time, and try to cringe a little less as the letters appear on the screen in front of me.

I’m beautiful. And it feels good to say that.

Would you call yourself beautiful? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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