We live in a world of flaws. Ironically, we place a high value on beauty and perfection. Every day, we are bombarded with advertisements featuring perfectly symmetrical and beautiful faces and bodies trying to sell to us. These ads woo us with the promise that if we get what “they” have, we can be as attractive as they are, too. Not only that, we also respond to the subconscious message that the beautiful are happier, richer, nicer, and more popular than the rest of us.

While this may work to get us to buy some products and services, there are a few drawbacks to selling perfection:

We are unable to relate. People who are very beautiful or successful are often seen and treated as “other.” This is also true of people held up as “saints” or moral examples. We may admire them, but have a hard time relating with their “perfection” on a human level.

Perfection is simply a myth. If you hang around a perfect person long enough, you will quickly realize that they are not as perfect as they first seemed. They have idiosyncrasies and flaws just like we do. It can often be a deeply satisfying experience to learn that someone we admire is flawed. A shared shortcoming is even more powerful, as it helps us to not feel alone in the world. It can also give hope to someone who is struggling with their flaws. It lets them know that they can keep their shortcomings in check and live fulfilling and productive lives.

Perfection is not for sale. When we try to buy perfection, what we are really seeking is human connection. But what’s more human than the shared experience of being both flawed and beautiful?

Why Flaws Are Beautiful

While one aspect of beauty is symmetry, another important aspect is uniqueness. Our flaws are not simply unwelcome nuisances, they are integral parts of our lives. Each of us has our own combination of flaws and struggles that make us who we are. They make us unique, special, and beautiful.

Flaws come in many flavors. Here are three areas of life in which we experience flaws, as well as ways we can harness their beauty and manage them positively.

Character Flaws

These are the personality flaws that can be as harmless as shyness or as hurtful as habitual lying. To be clear, there is not much beauty to be found in lying, cheating, or exhibiting arrogant behavior. When we see others engaging in such acts, our knee-jerk reaction is to be judgmental. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we too have the potential to do similar things under the right circumstances. We may even be able to recall a time in our lives when we fell victim to our own similar flaws. Here is where the beauty lies. It is in the acknowledgement that we can identify, at least in part, with another’s struggle. That in sharing our own struggles, we can strengthen another to help them manage or even overcome destructive behavior that come from their flaws. This beauty expresses the reality that we are all limited and that we need each other.

Some ways to manage character flaws:

  • Acknowledge the flaw and any associated destructive behavior that is bringing harm to yourself and others.
  • Seek to replace destructive habits with positive ones.
  • Don’t go it alone. Employ the help of friends, loved ones, or professionals.
  • Accept the minor flaws that are not causing undue pain to yourself or others.
  • Seek out ways to help others in similar situations.

Physical Flaws

One of the negative side effects of a culture saturated with images of beautiful people is that it highlights the ways that “we” are not like “them.” My nose is not as straight, my jaw is not as strong, my teeth are not as white, my eyes are too big, my skin is too dark. This list of “flaws” can go on forever, and so can the insecurities that come from them. Some of us may have unusual physical features or scars that we experience as flaws. Know that your beauty comes not only from your physical appearance, but also from loving and embracing your physical uniqueness. Here is another thing to keep in mind: Having a physical feature that is not celebrated by society is not a flaw. It is you. It is me. It is beautiful.

Some tips on physical flaws:

  • Realize that we notice more about ourselves than other people do.
  • Resist the urge to constantly compare yourself with others.
  • Truly accept the beautiful person that you are, “flaws” and all. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say “I am beautiful!”

Emotional Scars

Our world is not perfect. Sometimes we bump into its imperfection in dramatic ways that can cause emotional scars. All it takes is one traumatic incident to change our lives forever. A person dealing with emotional scars may find it hard to trust, love, or feel safe. There may be a tendency to hide these scars, but healing often comes when we are able to expose them gently to the light. Some of the deepest human connections and bonds happen when we allow others into our most vulnerable spaces. This is beauty.

Some ways to manage emotional scars:

  • Acknowledge the pain.
  • Do not be afraid to be vulnerable by sharing your story with someone you love and trust.
  • Be patient. Emotional wounds often heal or subside with the passage of time.
  • Seek the help of a professional counselor or therapist.
  • Let go.

May you discover the beauty in your flaws today, and know that you are gorgeous.

Featured photo credit: geralt via pixabay.com

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