you are beautiful, and why other women make this hard for us to believe

A few months ago, I attended a women's circle in which each woman was invited to talk about something on her mind -- in an atmosphere of support from all of the others present.

One woman shared how she had never felt feminine or beautiful, and related several incidents of slights and insults from fellow girls and women that dated all the way back to her teen years.

This woman was strikingly beautiful in my eyes, and absolutely radiant.  After feeling called out on her appearance so many times, I could imagine how innocent comments or even compliments could have been interpreted by her as slams.

For her, it would be a never-ending perception that something was wrong with her.  Unless she decided to change her own mind about herself.

Maybe, like me, you too have been dismayed by the way women can compete and jockey for position, especially when men are in the room.  Maybe you, too, have experienced how insecure women feel compelled to destroy someone else in order to feel like somebody special themselves.

I started this year by making a cute special offer on The Dynamic Divorcée Facebook page.  My Magic Mondays offer was a little pouch filled with You Are Beautiful items:  silver stickers, pinback buttons, magnets . . .

Wow, it was a popular little giveaway!

Women commented about why they wanted to win it, and so many of the comments were about how their self-confidence and sense of their own attractiveness had eroded away over the years.  Often, it was a critical husband who did the damage.  Sometimes it had started in women's families of origin.  Sometimes it was bullying at school.

But here's why lots of women wanted to win my little gift:  Everyone wanted to love and approve of themselves -- and to share with other women that they are beautiful, too.

Have you experienced a lack of support from the women in your life, or even verbal bullying or insults from women whose opinion mattered to you?   I found this article on the subject interesting.

I truly believe that there's another piece to this puzzle:  Making my opinion of myself and my inner and outer beauty more important than what anyone else has to say about it.

We can't control others' perceptions, or how their own pain and insecurities may influence how they perceive us or treat us.  We're not inside their heads (and we probably don't want to be).

I don't think the unconventionally beautiful woman at the women's circle would have shared those painful, shaming memories if she didn't know in her heart and soul that she was beautiful, she is beautiful, and that she deeply disagrees with those who say she is somehow less than they are.

There's a part inside each of us that wants the way we see ourselves to be reflected back in the gaze of others.  Especially important others.  And, it will be reflected back.  As soon as we feel our own beauty deeply enough inside ourselves.