How many times after receiving a compliment have you deflected it, or in turn put yourself down? How many times has someone done this to you? This all too common phenomenon becomes a vicious cycle and creates a culture where it is not okay to take or to give genuine compliments, particularly for women.
Amy Schumer in her sketch ‘Compliments’ highlights this phenomenon. (this video contains graphic language and is uncensored)
Did you laugh? That is because, sadly, there is a lot of truth in this hyperbole.
We can make guesses about how this came to be the norm, and create villains out of our patriarchal society, but really where would that get us? The more important conversation considers what is underneath this phenomenon. Based on this behavior, many women feel unable to take the compliments we are given. Sexism and ageism intersect and make this phenomenon more and more pronounced with age. Often compliments are implied as superlative. What kind person would want to take a compliment if it meant stating you were the most beautiful, smart, thin, well dressed etc., thereby putting down all other women, your friend bestowing the compliment included.
What if we don’t have to be beautiful (or any other attribute) in comparison to anything or anyone else? Does being and acknowledging one’s beauty really take away from anyone else’s beauty? Beautiful is not a title for just one woman or age to win. Owning your own beauty does not make anyone else any less beautiful. Owning our own beauty is contagious and empowering. Owning our own beauty, and celebrating that of others, offers an expansion from a narrow definition of what is best. Beauty isn’t an age, hair color, size, shape or complexion. Google defines beauty as a combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses, intellect or moral senses. Take that definition and run with it, literally.
The founder Melissa started the race eight years ago to “create a space where women can be reminded that the combination of inner and outer strength morphs into confidence and happiness, the true essence of beauty. When women feel good about themselves and about their bodies, they are truly unstoppable. They also often stop looking to other women in comparison. Running is so empowering for everyone, but women especially. It teaches goal setting, independence, and perseverance.”
Make no mistake, this is no ego-fluffing, ‘finishing means you are a winner’ type affair, it is about doing and being your best. Melissa’s sister and S.I.B number two in command Sara remarked, “What blew me away was that so many of these women gave it their all — from the professional runners sprinting for a close, gutsy win, to the lady who was one of the last to finish, but pumped her arms harder and walked considerably faster those last yards. Each of these women did their very best and that is beautiful, for they will take that courage into the rest of their lives.”
Dr. Thomas’ guide from elders to living well MESH starts with M for move. I love how She.Is.Beautiful is a place for people to move at their pace from professional runners to many many many first time racers running and walking the course.
(While this post is all about the ladies, for those of you who identify as male we see you too, own your adjectives: handsome, smart, kind, etc.)