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Beauty isn’t a look. It’s a feeling. It shines through the eyes and from the soul. 

When I sat down to write this introductory beauty article, my heart said re-defining beauty had to be at the forefront. Beauty by definition is “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” 

Read that again. Slowly. The QUALITY or aggregate QUALITIES in a person is the root of all beauty. I want to take that one step further… your qualities shine brightest and “exalt” the senses, the mind and the spirit of others when you are boldly authentically you. Authenticity is defined as “of undisputed origin or genuine.” When we are genuine and open ourselves to the world, rooted in the power of our uniquely undisputed origin of self expression, we are beauty. 

I want you to take notice that there has yet to be mention of physical traits or appearance. I want you to know that you are beautiful right at this moment –  you are an authentic, uniquely and wonderfully made (messy bun, smeared mascara, morning breath and all) expression of love and beauty. 

The FALSE definition of beauty we carry was planted there for us, often in our youth. We were told, in the weakest moment of psyche development, that we lacked something. We were told how to JUDGE beauty based on arbitrary trends – the latest “look”, body style, hair cut or make-up product could make us beautiful. But the promises were empty, and we often fell short. Against these images, by comparison, we measured and often rejected our own beauty, worth and value. I will tell you that even those we measured most “beautiful” also often rejected themselves in comparison to someone else. 

From those seeds, ugly weeds of self doubt and rejection grew and we misunderstood the true source of beauty in those marketing pictorials! It wasn’t the “look” that was beautiful, but rather the self love, confidence and joy that radiated in those images. At some point, many of us decided that in order to “look” beautiful, we had to obtain something outside ourselves.  But that is the biggest fallacy of all – if we return to the definition of beauty one more time, Beauty by definition is “the quality or aggregate of qualities IN a person or thing.” Everything you need is already inside you. Each one of us can light up a room and “exalt the mind and spirit” of those around us. Beauty is about feeling alive within our skin and from that space – of mentally, emotionally and spiritually accepting ourselves – becoming more than our physical form and in that, we find the grace to be boldly, unapologetically beautiful.

I have been part of the beauty industry my entire life. I began as an outsider – desperately seeking a way in, to a blossomed adult realizing that I am, in fact, beautiful. My beauty radiates the highest in the moments I practice ultimate self acceptance and operate in my God given talent and flow. In the moments that I shine in my true spiritual calling, I feel most beautiful. And my beauty is absolutely impossible for another to ever measure or judge. Yours is too. 

My journey of self rejection began on the first warm spring day of my 8th grade year. I remember waking up and putting on my favorite shorts from the previous year. I loved the swirled white and jean pattern and the soft stretch of the fabric on my skin. I left for school that day not realizing that my legs had grown several inches and the length of my favorite shorts no longer covered my overweight thighs. I had no awareness of the wobble of my thighs or that my tummy jiggled when I skipped to the bus that morning. It was not until the laughs and jeers floated above my heartbeat as I ran bases in dodgeball in 4th period that I was pierced by peer-judgement of my physical form for the first time. In that moment, I lost the confidence inherently born into all of us. As children, with innocence, we love ourselves and life itself without question. For me, that grace was shattered in a moment and I spent decades rejecting what I judged to be an overweight, awkward and self conscious girl without redeeming value or worth in the world. 

Thankfully, this journey is also one of self redemption and learning to genuinely love myself again. Even at twelve, there was a whisper in my soul telling me that my self-rejecting thoughts were incorrect. I’ve spent my life chasing that voice, that whisper deep within my soul that says I’m worthy, that says, I’m more than enough, that said I am perfectly and wonderfully made. With that badge of honor, I have permission to be boldly and unapologetically myself under all circumstances. I believe one of my ultimate soul purposes in life is to celebrate myself and awaken this self-love in others. It has been a rough journey of over 30 years of eating disorders, victim mentality, self-sabotage, digging through false statements and unearthing ugly seeds that I had allowed to grow in my subconscious mind. However, I would not have changed a moment. Without the trials, I would never have gained the experience or tools I use to help others. And through the triumph I would have never learned how to truly love and celebrate myself, my strength and my power nor teach others how to as well. 

The purpose of this column will be to help you find an entry point or growing point in self love. I want to help educate you that self love grows from self care. Self care is when we take time, resources or effort to care for our physical, mental or emotional bodies. The practice of self care can begin with changing the quality of what we eat, how we move our bodies, the time and care we put in taking care of our skin, our hair, our clothes, our homes and how we celebrate ourselves in the moments that we feel amazing! 

I am an ambassador of all things self love and self care by trade. I primarily work as a Pilates Master Trainer. I teach people how to move their bodies better, to feel better, stronger, more connected and pain free. I am incredibly passionate about this work because I learned how to love all corners of my overweight, hypermobile body with hip dysplasia, a rotator cuff injury, osteoarthritis and autoimmune issues through movement, through alignment, and through healing a painful past. I learned to honor and resculpt the body I had in the moment. I learned to celebrate the gains in strength and the subsequent loss of over 80 pounds in the process. I learned how to never give up on myself. I am a savant in the mechanics of the human body. I have discovered intricacies in movement and function through loving my own interesting body in movement. For me, movement was the entry point of learning to love myself again. I once rejected my hips that hurt and my challenges with weight, but now I am grateful and my body has been my best education and insight in the knowledge I use to teach and help others. Through troubleshooting my own body and through my own course of self care, I’ve branched out in several different concurrent careers – all within that same focus – healing the mind, body and spirit through acts of self care to grow our self love. I also want to preface our time together that I was very late to the “inside” of the “beauty” – skincare and makeup world. What many women learned in their teens, I discovered in my late 30s. I had tuned out the entire beauty industry and hardly looked in the mirror. In my self rejection as an outsider, I rejected everything beauty. Shockingly for a beauty columnist, I did not wear mascara until I was in my 30’s and I proudly told others it was because “I was simple or low-maintenance” or it “felt like too much work”. However, when I was quiet with my thoughts,  those words truly meant that I believed that I was not worth the time or effort it took to learn because I would never be as beautiful as those that already knew how to do it. 

Through this column, I plan on taking you on a journey of practicing self-care with skincare, cosmetics and more. Sometimes we have to act “as if” and go through the motions to start the process before the true feelings of self-love begin to germinate. I want you to know that no amount of skin care or make-up can make you any more beautiful than you already are at this moment. However, I will tell you from experience, that when I feel polished, I allow the radiance within me to glow brighter and more boldly into the world. I don’t ever want you to feel that adding make-up, adds value to who you are or were meant to be. I never want you to put anything on your face because you do not feel that you are good enough without it. I want you to believe you are worth the investment of your time and effort. I believe self-care through applying our skin care and make-up routine, staring deeply into our own eyes can be beautiful and healing. I believe when we start loving our made up faces, we start looking and seeing ourselves. The process is not one of hiding, but one of accentuating what we believe is inherently beautiful about our form. And that recognition can help break through the hard soil around the seed of insecurity and unearth it. Again, there are many ways to love yourself and allow yourself to shine through. There are also many layers and levels to how you may decide that beauty is right for you and that is part of the journey I want for you! I want you to find your authentic self care routine. Some months my column may speak to you and inspire a hydration and sunscreen routine and others many turn you away in an age defying contour tutorial. At the end of the day, our soul will tell us everything we need to know about our own authentic beauty. If you feel resistance to a topic, ask yourself why. Is it because of a past hurt? Stay curious! Any investment into your physical health, even as an exploration, is a good investment. Your body is the house to your soul, try out a new technique or routine and see how you feel. That is when you can truly decide what is authentic self care and what would be off path for you. Let me teach you how to honor yours the ways I know how and let your soul tell you inherently which will work for you in practice. 

Practice self care today, you are worth it. 

 

Marilyn Harder

Marilyn Harder is an ambassador of all things self love and self care. She holds both a Master’s Degree in Business (MBA) and a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from UC Davis and well over 60 certifications in the movement and wellness industry. She has an advanced knowledge of kinesthetic movement that she acquired in her work with dysfunctional movement patterns in a 55 and older retirement community. She works primarily as a Pilates Master Trainer and has taken over 150 people through the 500 hour comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training program. Concurrently, she works as Bowenwork practitioner and a Restorative Wellness Practitioner both as additional modalities to troubleshoot healing and optimal wellness. She utilizes her education in all realms (psychology, movement, naturopathic health and nutrition) in her approach to beauty. What we put on and in our bodies matters but not nearly as much as HOW and WHY we do so. Marilyn approaches health and beauty through a triad -movement, nutrition and self care. Out of self care, self love is born. And out of self love authentic purpose, passion, and works are done. She believes that all pursuit of happiness and purpose begins by anchoring yourself spiritually and loving yourself through the eyes of God.

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