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7 Lessons Audrey Hepburn Taught Me About True Beauty

7 Lessons Audrey Hepburn Taught Me About True Beauty

Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and forms, and one of the most iconic and recognizable is that of actress, campaigner, humanitarian and Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn is considered to this day a truly beautiful woman, even with the passage of time and the increasing strain and imposing attitudes towards beauty and self-image in the modern world.

But what is true beauty? How is it even attained? Audrey Hepburn found the secret of achieving true beauty, beauty that eminates from both inside and out, and here are seven of her most important quotes and lessons that can help you achieve true beauty as well.

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1. “And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”

Lessons learned: One of Audrey Hepburn’s best lessons in true beauty and how to attain it, lies in the high-pressure paradox of aging and being beautiful. In our society, beauty is regarded as a commodity, and youth in particular in treasured. The older a woman becomes, the less attractive she is perceived to be by society at large, and so every kind of anti-ageing cream, surgery, or procedure is peddled out. Audrey Hepburn’s lesson teaches us that women grow more beautiful with age, as a result of their kindnesses and increasing confidence. Think of natural beauties such as Sophia Loren, Julie Christie, and of course Ms Hepburn, who aged gracefully. Time to put down the face cream advertisement and consider maybe, just maybe, growing old gracefully.

2. “There is more to sex appeal than just measurements. I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal, picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain.”

Lessons learned: Audrey knew that the true definition of beauty is not sexiness; although sexiness in itself can be a strong facet of true beauty. What makes someone sexy and truly beautiful isn’t the kind of underwear they wear or how many calories they eat or how much time they spend on their bodies. True beauty and sexiness comes from confidence and from an innate sense of who you really are. Audrey Hepburn never had to parade around naked in a bikini to be sexy or beautiful. She was beautiful walking down the street, in her day-to-day life. So is everyone, if they truly believe in it.

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3. “Make-up can only make you look pretty on the outside but it doesn’t help if your ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the make-up.”

Lessons learned: This is one of Audrey Hepburn’s lesser known comments and quotes about true beauty, but one of the funniest and most succinct. Make up is used the world over and while this quote is certainly not attacking the people across the world who use it on a regular, daily basis; this quote suggests that all the make up in the world, which is designed to make things on the surface appear perfect, cannot sink beneath the skin and make the wearer a better and more perfect human being. Audrey Hepburn did not go without make up, but she did not mistake it or equate it with being beautiful on the inside, with being truly beautiful. Being truly beautiful is something no amount of make up can ever replicate or create.

4. “The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair… True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”

Lessons learned: If ever a quote by Audrey Hepburn advocated the focus on inner beauty over outer, then this lesson from the legend herself surely speaks volumes. Inner beauty is not something that leaks in from the outside; it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing haute couture or have a perfect hairdo. True beauty, inner beauty, radiates from the inside out with the positive traits and qualities a person brings to the world and shares with the world. Audrey Hepburn’s true beauty came from her compassion, her kindness, and her devotion to others, and while she might have been wearing Chanel and Dior, it was those qualities that made her truly beautiful.

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5. “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

Lessons learned: True beauty is not isolation. Beauty is not about being all about the surface. You can have a picture perfect veneer – a toned body, great hair, perfect teeth,.. Audrey Hepburn understood this better than anyone; She spent her entire life desiring human connection and a family and desired a family more than being an actress or a celebrity. She understood that true beauty comes from the connections we have to others. Truly beautiful people cultivate loving and powerful relationships with one another. She also stood that maintaining those connections is the most important thing each of us can do on a daily basis.

6. “Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.”

Lessons learned: Sometimes a quote about a chocolate cake is just about a chocolate cake, but in this case, it’s really a comment about how inner and outer beauty is not about self-denial and restraint. Audrey Hepburn’s true beauty came from embracing her flaws and desires and letting them be a part of her life, rather than becoming an anxiety or a distraction. In short, Audrey let herself indulge in her taste for a ‘creamy chocolate cake’ and just let it be that. No binges, no starvation. Just a simple enjoyment of what made her happy, which in turn made her happy and truly beautiful.

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7. “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.”

Lessons learned: Audrey’s most important and potent lesson in true beauty is, surprisingly, one of the most misunderstood quotes ever attributed to the Hollywood actress. Audrey’s quote is not an implication that in order to be happy, you need to be pretty and conventionally attractive. However, the quote is actually establishing that when someone is truly happy with themselves and at peace, it is then that they become beautiful, both inside and out.

Audrey Hepburn’s true beauty concept comes not from aesthetics but from the soul. If you want to be truly beautiful, you need to kind and courteous and cultivate happiness for yourself and do what makes you and others happy. That way, when you smile, you’ll look even more radiant, and you will be truly beautiful.

Featured photo credit: Audrey Hepburn via hdw.eweb4.com

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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