Almost all of the teen girls I coach want to be beautiful. They fixate on obtaining perfect hair, skin, lips, lashes, and body shape. They believe that once they reach this level of beauty, they will instantly feel happy and fulfilled.
It would be a mistake to tell a teen girl or woman that their appearance doesn’t matter. It does. When coaching teens in this area, I always validate the importance of feeling good about how you look. But I also describe the problem of putting too much emphasis on outer appearance. Our bodies are always changing, especially during the teen years. Bodies can be stubborn to transform in the exact way we wish. We can’t naturally make curly hair straight, acne disappears, or body parts shrink or inflate, and when we try and fail, the results are usually frustration. For teen girls, this can also lead to self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Building a sense of inner beauty.
In a recent coaching session with a sixteen-year-old, we dove into the topic of inner beauty. After exploring her beliefs about beauty, she asked an important question, “What does inner beauty look like?” This prompted us to brainstorm a list of inner beauty qualities.
Qualities of inner beauty include (but are definitely not limited to):
I asked my client to think about the actions that match each quality and how behavior and beliefs impact outer beauty. I pointed out, you can meet someone who is unbelievably gorgeous but if she is rude, selfish, fake, or disloyal, suddenly her outer beauty fades. What seems attractive and alluring becomes repugnant. On the other hand, when you meet someone without flawless skin or a perfect body, but is generous, kind, funny, caring, and true to herself, she glows! She is also more likely to feel confident and be surrounded by genuine friends.
Then, my client asked, “How do you become beautiful on the inside?”
How to cultivate inner beauty
- Create your own definition of beauty, including inner qualities, and measure yourself by that, not by what society dictates.
- Identify your personal strengths and values. These may include some of the qualities listed above.
- Recognize how it feels when you allow these qualities of inner beauty to shine and notice how others respond.
- Start to develop the qualities you admire. With commitment and time, you can strengthen any quality or ability.
- Focus on the parts of your outer appearance that you appreciate and admire.
- Tame your inner critic (Check out my blog about Confronting your Gremlin.)
- Nourish your connections with uplifting friends and people who also focus more on personality over looks.
- Stop engaging in self-deprecating conversations.
- Shift comparisons into compliments.
- Think kindly about yourself, others, and the world. Kind thoughts are at the core of inner beauty.
The Bottom Line
When we embody the qualities of inner beauty, we can make a difference in the lives of others and build stronger connections. We become more connected to ourselves and our emotions which, and this in turn, supports better decision-making and self-control. We feel happier and more satisfied with our lives.