Do you have a favourite feature, something you really like about your body which you think is pretty special?
It’s my eyes.
Even as a flat chested, skinny teenage wallflower who thought she was too fat for a bikini or short shorts, I really liked my eyes. In a high school personal development class, I was asked to list what I liked about my body. My “list” was painfully short. After much thought and considerable time, I wrote . . . one . . . single . . . lonely . . . item – my eyes. It was the ONLY thing I liked about how I looked. This raises many issues, but my point is, I actually liked my eyes way back then even when I didn’t like anything else about me. And I still like them now. I still count them as my best feature, along with my height.
Thankfully all those years later, I have much improved body consciousness and self-confidence which enable me to appreciate many other features of my body.
I’ve been blessed with reasonably large, blue eyes which change colour according to my health, the weather and my mood. They sometimes look brighter or darker to match or reflect my outfit. My eyes change from navy blue to grey to a bright light blue and everything in between; although as I age, they are more often towards the darker end of that continuum.
However, believing my eyes to be my best feature has been problematic. For a large portion of my life, I have spent time hiding my eyes from others. For many years, I was afraid to look people in the eye, spending most of my time with eyes downcast, avoiding the gaze of others, afraid of what they might see, think or ask of me. I almost believed if I didn’t look at them, they couldn’t see me either. I looked directly only at close family and friends, glancing quickly at others before casting my eyes down once more. Living in an extremely sunny climate, I wear sunglasses year round, almost every time I step outside. It is uncomfortable to go without them for even a short time. Of course, they also give me something to hide behind, a mask. They hide my eyes and further inhibit direct eye contact.
As I have matured, grown into who I am meant to be and gained confidence in myself, I have become more able to make eye contact with others. I haven’t solved the sunglasses problem but do now look directly at others. My best feature, my eyes, can now actually be seen, which in turn, boosts my confidence, further encouraging me to make eye contact. An action – reaction cycle has been established and continues to help me build the habit of showing off my eyes.
I still find it unnerving to maintain eye contact for an extended time but I can look directly at others when I meet them, for short conversations. I can scan a crowded room rather than keeping eyes downcast and trying to disappear into the shadows. It’s a work in progress, as am I.
I strive to be brave, show up and look the world in the eye, thus showing off my favourite feature, my blue eyes.
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye. ” – Helen Keller.
Do you have something which has become easier for you over time due to maturation, increased confidence or hard work? Congratulations! Take the time to acknowledge your everyday successes. Be kind to you.