Elements of Self

elements of self_big

by  from Twin Cites, USA in Health Tuesday, August 7, 2012

picture by Glen Scott


Your style does not define you. Not alone. People look at you every day, whether you want them to or not, and the choices you make about clothing and grooming and accessories contribute to the overall impression you give. You can tell the world about your favorite colors and textures, about your favorite era in history, about your favorite aspects of your figure through the dressing choices you make. What you wear contributes to the first level of your public identity, and you can exercise some measure of control over that identity. But you are more than just your style.

Your body does not define you. Not alone. Your height and weight may provide information about your genetic makeup, and your proportions may convey information about the center of your physical power, and your hair and eye color may tell stories about your ancestry. But you are more than just your body.

Your smarts, your personality, and your life experiences do not define you. Not alone. What you believe and the relationships you forge and the places you’ve been shape your essential self, and the thoughts you think and decisions you make guide you. But you are more than just your smarts, personality, and life experiences.

It took me a long time to accept and embrace that last one because I felt that my smarts, personality, and life experiences WERE me. Everything else was just trappings, storage, miscellany. I kept my brain inside my body for safekeeping, and dressed my body to keep it warm and dry. But the real me had nothing to do with the physical world. The real me was ephemeral, lofty, philosophical, and intellectual. My body was merely a vessel.

When I began to accept that my body was as essential to my true self as my intellect and temperament, I accessed a whole new level of self-acceptance. My body had always been a second-class citizen, and I’d scorned it and treated it badly. Welcoming it into the fold and assimilating it into my concept of self meant that I wanted to care for, nourish, groom, pamper, and maintain it in ways I’d never wanted to before. I wanted to keep it strong and healthy, clean and in good working order. I wanted to adorn it with pride as an expression of my respect. I wanted to be as proud of my body as I’d always been of my disposition and intellect. I truly felt more whole.

In my opinion, no person can be defined simply. Everything about us is interconnected, and embracing that interconnectedness helps us to flourish. Don’t let your body or style or personality become the tyrant of your sense of self. All three contribute, all three deserve your attention, and all three make you who you are.


Sally McGraw

Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based blogger, freelance writer, and teacher. In addition to writing her popular daily style and body image blog, Already Pretty, she is an ongoing contributor to the Minneapolis StarTribune and offers style consultation services – both in person for clients living in the Twin Cities, and via e-mail for clients worldwide.

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