Body Image – Beauty Comes from Within

I don’t remember being bothered about how my body looked when I was a young girl, I just remember being full of joy, loving people, playing, drawing, and dancing.

Gyl Rae | Age 1-2
Gyl Rae | Age 1-2

Gyl Rae | Age 4
Gyl Rae | Age 4

It was not until I was about 10 or 11 years old that I remember having feelings about how I looked. I remember getting my hair cut short and being teased about it and called a boy.

It wasn’t until I went to high school that I began to have issues with my body. I’m not sure how or where this started but I do know it wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind as a child.

The older I got, and the more I was exposed to:

  • Other people’s comments
  • Beliefs and ideals about the way girls and women should look
  • Celebrity culture
  • Magazines
  • Comparison and competition – which girl was prettier, thinner, more beautiful, accepted and liked and/or loved by others…

… the more I began to compare myself to these images and ideals and the more I began to associate how I looked on the outside with:

  • Getting attention
  • Whether I was accepted and liked
  • Whether I was seen by others to be beautiful… or not.

Throughout my teenage years and well into my early thirties I became obsessed with how my body looked; this was not outwardly obvious, but underneath there was a choice made to allow a driving force to have a perfect body that was thin and looked great. It was a form of control that made me feel safe in a world where I felt it was not safe to show how delicate, lovely and sensitive I am. It was never about being underweight or super thin, for me it was more about wanting a body that looked super fit, perfect and healthy.

Gyl Rae | Age 17
Gyl Rae | Age 17

Gyl Rae | Age 22
Gyl Rae | Age 22

There wasn’t any one person I would class as a role model, more just a general impact of the ideals and beliefs I observed and chose to take on from the world around me. However, the older I got and the more I exercised, the more I wanted a body like I saw in fitness magazines – strong, and what I thought was sexy, but now looking back it was really just hard and a form of protection.

It was like I had a point to prove to the world – that I was worth being loved.

There was no joy or love in the relationship I had with myself, my body or the food I ate, it was all very much about obsession and control, only allowing myself to eat certain things, and exercising not to support or love myself, but to extremes to look a certain way. I had come to believe that only if I was thin, with a perfect tummy, bum etc., then I was beautiful. I had given up on being and letting out the amazing joy, playfulness and love I was as a child – and I still felt within – not caring what anyone else thought about me.

Now in my late thirties I can absolutely say that I love my body, I am beautiful and super sexy, playful and cute, and I know that first this all comes from within.

When I feel beautiful, this shines out no matter what, and is felt by everyone.

Why? Because I feel beautiful and confident from within.

For me it is no longer about how I look on the outside first, but the quality and connection of the relationship I have with myself. I no longer compare myself to others, wish I was thinner or fitter, or look like GI Jane, as I love being me. There’s no perfect bum in sight but it is super cute; nor a six pack but a gentle, lovely curve.

I’m exactly the way I am meant to be.

I eat to support myself, not to control the way I think I should look, and when I exercise it is not to burn calories, lose weight or to get the ‘perfect body’, as I now know this does not exist.

I exercise because I love myself and I want to make that commitment to me, knowing that my beauty first comes from within.

You might ask how did this change come about from someone who was so dedicated and committed to pushing her body hard and training in a way that was in complete disregard of the delicate, petite woman I am. It was through meeting Serge Benhayon, attending Universal Medicine Events and practising the Gentle Breath Meditation that my life began to change. It didn’t happen overnight and there were no rules or quick fixes to follow, they simply presented to me that there is another way of living and being that is about love first; in other words, making self loving choices for myself and my body – which naturally unfolded into all areas of my life, from work, to relationships, to family and how I feel about myself.

It has been through these loving choices that I have made, and continue to keep making and deepening, that my life and my body has changed.

It’s not that I have lost lots of weight, but there is a quality, a lightness, a joy and a beauty that shines out from within. For the first time in my life, since I was a little girl, I can feel the grace, delicateness, beauty, sweetness and joy that I am, and I no longer hide this away.

Gyl Rae | Age 37
Gyl Rae | Age 37

With deep thanks and appreciation to Serge Benhayon, Natalie Benhayon, and Universal Medicine, for showing me there is another way.

By Gyl Rae, 37, Scotland

Further Reading:
~ Self Esteem is no longer an Issue – Appreciating, Celebrating and Loving My Body
~ Raising our Girls – Supporting True Beauty
~ The True Beauty R-Evolution
~ Is True Beauty Really In The Eye Of The Beholder?

792 thoughts on “Body Image – Beauty Comes from Within

  1. Children’s toys aimed at girls are almost all distorted versions of the female body these days. When I grew up there were only one or two dolls with large heads and very thin bodies, now they all seem to be like that. Add to that the make up and drug user look and dolls completely undermine the natural innate beauty of young girls. Can we blame the toy industry? Can we blame commercial organisations? No, it’s us that are buying them and giving them to our children who are asking for more. If we feed the industry the industry will thrive if we starve the industry then we might just see change.

  2. Apart from anything else, it is totally exhausting trying to live up to something we think we ‘should’ or ‘want to’ be. When we can let go of all those ideals and beliefs about having the ‘perfect’ body and start to live from who we know ourselves to be from the inside we become vibrant, joy-full and feel our own inner beauty and gorgeousness without any ‘need’ for another to confirm it for us.

  3. ‘When I feel beautiful, this shines out no matter what, and is felt by everyone. Why? Because I feel beautiful and confident from within.’ There is nothing that can touch that feeling of absolute beauty that we move with when we are living from the inside out.

  4. How on Earth we can feel not good enough if we already are everything? If I see the first picture of you Gyl with 1-2 years I see the completeness, tenderness and absolute joy that is there. Nothing else was needed, just the present moment to be lived. We all had the same experience in our early ages so what happened later? We have been told that it is good to fit in, to adapt ourselves to our environment, that is not ok to cry or to speak up because others can reject you…we have learnt so many things but forgot the essential, how to deeply care and cherish our body. We would live in a very different world – where self-worth issues, jealousy and comparison – wouldn’t exist if making self-loving choices for ourselves would be the normal. That’s not the case by now unless we choose it in our everyday life, it’s in our hands.

  5. Taking on the many ideals about how we should or shouldn’t look like push us in a corner feeling less and doesn’t allow us the space to just be. Thanks Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine I realized how far away I was from the bundle of love that I really am. Through the Gentle Breath meditation I create a space in me that is new, it’s a surrendering where I can feel that my preciousness has nothing to do with my shape and looks, but something greater that comes from within me.

  6. From being hard and pushing your body to being very loving and content with yourself. Such an amazing change Gyl. Love to hear about the many experiences from the Students of the Livingness who had the courage to connect deeper with themselves, the joy and stillness that they emanate is very tangible and very real. This fact makes me see how simple can be living in such a way if we just surrender to the love that we are. Thanks for sharing

  7. We do all kinds of things to stand in the way of our own body looking and feeling like it naturally does. Taking care of our body, loving ourselves goes a very long way, making us rewrite the definition of what beauty is.

  8. Absolutely beautiful blog Gyl, it speaks volumes for all of us women who are struggling, fighting, pushing and trying to reach a certain weight, body shape, or look. How humbling is it to feel the contentment you have within you and know that it is available for us all. Thank you.

  9. When I was striving to have the perfect body and the perfect skin so I looked beautiful… I was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my whole life. Super clear now to see, the energy it took to push and strive for that was definitely not love, because love asks us to be nothing more than who we are from our essence.

  10. Wow Gyl, you are so absolutely gorgeous. It is true, we don’t have to have a role model in order to be affected by the outside – just adopting the ideals and beliefs of society is enough to make us feel unworthy, not good enough and like we lack in something.

  11. We are pure divine in our essence And we drifted so far away in our livingness that now we have to work hard with a lot of loving discipline to get to feel again that beauty which never left.

  12. The more loving choices we make for ourselves in our everyday life the more we are able to reignite our love for ourselves and others full stop.

  13. I love this line: “I’m exactly the way I am meant to be” – living a life of constantly striving to be better or different is so incredibly unfulfilling and damaging to our self worth. The moments when we simply accept ourselves as we are and stop fighting our imperfections are magic.

  14. True beauty is within us and all we need do is connect to it . . .looking within instead of look outside of ourselves

  15. Thank you Gyl, beautiful to read this again. Your photos communicate so much. The photos midway at ages 17 and 22 show how when we give our power to ideals and beliefs we completely close off from our essence, your natural beauty is not able to shine through there and you feel quite shut off from yourself. In contrast, your essence is so present and expressive in your childhood photos and your final photo at age 37, the natural beauty is so powerful, the gorgeousness is completely heart melting!

  16. Connecting deeply to the light and love that we truly are is enough to shine out our beauty for the whole world to see and feel; and what’s amazing about this is when we do this everyone gets an opportunity to feel their own beauty also.

  17. “When I feel beautiful, this shines out no matter what, and is felt by everyone.” A beautiful reflection for all who are met by your eyes.

  18. Beautiful question to aks: what is beauty, what is a beautiful body? And clearly it is not what the media want us to think or what society is portraying we should look like. The body is only beautiful when there is someone in there, when someone is present in their body and the soul they are is living in it and shining its light.

    1. It’s interesting how we give our power to the media, even though we don’t know the people personally who wrote and produce it, and we don’t know their character, yet we entrust them to tell us what’s ‘true’ and allow ourselves to be influenced by it. If I let a stranger on the street tell me how my body or life should be I would think that was crazy, yet we pick up a paper or magazine written by a bunch of strangers and let them tell us how to be.

      1. If you put it like this, and this is exactly how it works, it sounds ridiculous and something we wouldn’t even consider accepting without discernment from ourselves whether we want to take the media’s approach on board or not. For the things the media offer us are limited and hardly ever celebrate our true beauty. The check question to ask myself is often: ‘would my soul say or ask that?’ And if the answer is NO then I let it go.

  19. If we are forever wanting a body that we do not have, then we are not going to appreciate the body we are in and thus the depth of the wisdom, grace and love that is on offer to us when we live in connection with this.

  20. The eyes always hold the truth of us, independent of anything else. When we allow the inner beauty to come up they make sure to communicate this with the world. When the eyes reveal all that is to be revealed, how I look is only a confirmation of how I feel. The problem is when we decide no longer share with the world the true of us. Everything starts falling and we become dependent on others to confirm us. How I look becomes the only thing that matters.

    1. They so are cjames2012, these choices are also easily seen even in our younger years, yes our bodies may be more toned and skin tight and full, but our eyes, how we move, our skin tone, our vitality… says it all.

  21. To reconnect with the beauty that we already are in our essence brings a deep sense of content and a simplicity to life – it dissolves the need for recognition from outside of us and helps us to see where we may be trying to fit into an ideal or picture of what we think we should look like rather than feeling from inside what is our true shape… Thanks for sharing how you’ve unfolded with this Gyl.

  22. I was in a shop last night and a song was playing and one of the lines struck me…it was something along the lines of my life is hard, and I just don’t know. And what came to me is that we do know, we always know, there is a deep knowing in all of us. I felt like a more honest answer is that sometimes we don’t want to know, and that we live in a way that stops us from this knowing.

    When we are living a life of being hard on ourselves, pushing ourselves, comparing ourselves etc… there is a tension, a relentless tension because deep down we know that is not the way to be with ourselves. Often you can hear someone say, I know I need to be kinder to myself, or not push myself so much etc…

    So when Serge Benhayon comes along and presents another living way, it awakens much in people. It reminds us that we do know and when we start to live this way, it can feel quite natural. And that is where the tension mentioned above comes from, that we deep down know there is another way, but often prefer the drama of living the other.

  23. Thank you Gyl
    This is truly amazing
    Supporting yourself to grow by knowing who you are
    With the loving support of Universal Medicine
    You have found your way
    That is who you truly are
    And have always been
    All you needed was a re-connection to who you are
    Magnificent

    1. Thank you Danna, all we need is all there within, ready made, waiting to be reconnected to and lived from. Life is quite painful lived from the outside in, drawing from ideals and beliefs of those already disconnected from themselves. When we live from the inside out, life becomes a beautiful joy once again, just as it was when we were children – no beliefs or ideals needed

  24. I agree Gyl, our life can completely change when we commit to choosing love first and the awareness that it is the quality of how we are with ourselves first that enables us to express from our inner beauty and essence.

  25. It is lovely to just connect with you in your pictures, and feel where you have come to now in your life, very inspiring.

  26. There are so many ways in which we can distract ourselves from who we truly are be it food, exercise, images etc, but in essence when we pause to appreciate and feel the quality of our bodies and how they move we uncover a goldmine of joy, beauty and life. An image of who we are can only last as long as we allow it to, we can change our movements anytime.

  27. We can waste a lot of time and endanger our health as well as forsake vitality and joy by following the ideals and beliefs of how we should be – if we held true to ourselves, we would not fall into these traps but we tend to want to be liked and accepted before anything else.

  28. Making our life about how we look on the outside to be accepted and have a sense of value is so distracting and keeps us away from our natural innate beauty deep inside us all, ‘It was like I had a point to prove to the world – that I was worth being loved.’

  29. Thank you Gyl, that is so beautiful and very loving to hear, feel and see in your writing , pictures and flow.. A greatness you have chosen to return to, with all the support given, a point of light that needs to be celebrated. Deep appreciation to what I sense and feel from here.

  30. I love the photo at the end of this article that backs up what is being written within it. The warm glow in the cheeks and the bright shine in the face and smile is showing to me a conviction in knowing who you are from a deep place within. So many photos are looking at you with eyes asking for attention or asking for acceptance or similar but this photo the eyes are deep, settled and steady. Nothing is being asked but more everything is confirmed and it’s like this is the opposite to the norm as I’ve said. When you see someone look like this I would say keep doing what you are doing because it’s obviously working.

  31. It’s so true that none of us have any body issues when we are small. It’s all learnt behaviour. Not a great place to start, but at least we know we can un-learn these false ideals and beliefs and in their place, bring in acceptance and appreciation of ourselves.

  32. Over the last few days I have been observing how sensitive and delicate my body really is. Even the slightest and the tiniest of pressure is enough for it to stop being what that normally is by default. By default, the particles that make up my body are to emanate the light within when they are left to their own devices. How much self-loathing and self-abuse it has had to cop over the years explains where it is at. Connecting with my body at a deep level supports me in appreciating the magnificence and the graceful beauty that I cannot help but be by nature.

  33. I love how you say that you now exercise from a deep love of who you are and commitment to being who you truly are – rather than a lack of worth thinking that you have something to prove or make up for.

  34. You hit that nail on the head for me when you said, ‘It was like I had a point to prove to the world – that I was worth being loved’. There is a deep sadness we all carry when we don’t accept that we are all the love that we need.

  35. Deep inside we all know that beauty has to do with the quality and connection of the relationship we have with ourselves. And this is a process that is constantly deepening and every step towards a loving relationship with ourselves has to be appreciated, as one step can never be taken on its own, it builds on the one before and so on.

  36. I was at a swimming pool recently and there was a gorgeous boy of about 6 with his dad swimming the little boy was like a fish he was so confident in the water. I got dressed in the next cubicle to them and the little boy was chatting away to his dad and he was so full of joy and wonder. His dad started to sing a love song to him and he came out with a comment that love is for everybody, there was obviously something in the words that were too individual that didn’t sit well with him. I sat there and wondered how it is that there is every possibility that by the time this little boy is 10 or so society will have crushed that sweet delicate nature and the pure joy that he lives with. To me it felt like a fountain of joy bubbling up within him. Why do we do this to our children? It just doesn’t make any sense to me that we should want to crush something that is so beautiful and precious whether it be a boy or a girl.

    1. Mary it is a beautiful comment to reflect upon, it’s almost as if we see the beauty, joy and innocence of children as a phase, something they grow out of, and we accept the eventual loss of these qualities – at great loss to the world.

  37. It is easy to get caught up in ideals and beliefs about how we should look when we learn to focus outside ourselves trying to live up to the images we see promoted all around us. Nothing comes close to knowing the true beauty of connection to our essence and expressing who we are from within.

  38. I love reading this blog and seeing you in your picture. There is an ease in your eyes that stands out. It inspires me, knowing I too have that ease inside me.

  39. What a truly beautiful blog, it is all about the love we have for ourselves. Living in a way that is truly confirming is only making us feel more us and this shows in how our body is expressing.

  40. “Now in my late thirties I can absolutely say that I love my body, I am beautiful and super sexy, playful and cute, and I know that first this all comes from within.” This is beautiful Gyl – and its never too late. Now, in my sixties, i can say the same about my body – loving it more than ever!

  41. “There’s no perfect bum in sight but it is super cute; nor a six pack but a gentle, lovely curve.” I smiled when I read these words as I can feel the love that you have for yourself resonate throughout them Gyl; a powerful confirmation of the appreciation and honouring you now have for your body. I love the magic that can happen when we take the time to reconnect to the beautiful being that we naturally are.

  42. What a beautiful, joyous story to read Gyl. I love what you have expressed here;
    “It has been through these loving choices that I have made, and continue to keep making and deepening, that my life and my body has changed..”

  43. The power of Love lived is a beauty beyond anything in existence on this earth for we are forever other-worldly and divine.

  44. This is a powerful reminder Gyl for women of all ages who often get caught up in how society or magazines portray women and feel they have to live up to these false ideals and beliefs instead of embracing all the beautiful and amazing qualities we all have within.

  45. How crazy it is, that so often as young girls we do not question the love that holds us all – and we enjoy in full the beauty of living and moving in its, and our own, Grace…
    That then, we come to distance ourselves so from what actually ever holds us – forgetting that this Love of God never, ever goes away. To reclaim and reawaken to the fact that we are so held is to know our preciousness once more. Every woman and man alike deserves to know this.

  46. How many women can truly claim that they – we – love their body, and celebrate it in full? This is so very powerful Gyl, and you’ve shown here that it’s not ‘rocket science’, but rather about shifting our gaze from the plethora of images fed to us that tell us we are not enough, and decidedly choosing to dedicate ourselves to a loving way – with the women that we actually are.
    The simple steps, that can be so fervently resisted in this, hold the key, and I agree, there is no ‘overnight fix’ in this, but that with our ongoing dedication, founded in a choice to say we are deeply worth it, our lives and relationship with ourselves can most definitely change – to become founded in the love it rightly should always have been.

  47. “It didn’t happen overnight and there were no rules or quick fixes to follow, they simply presented to me that there is another way of living and being that is about love first; in other words, making self loving choices for myself and my body – which naturally unfolded into all areas of my life, from work, to relationships, to family and how I feel about myself.” – Such changes don’t happen overnight, but they do happen when we consistently and steadily take one step at a time and plant these steps solidly and unwaveringly on the ground with love and appreciation for who we are and what we are here to bring. One little step at a time, but over and over again…amazing what results you can get!

  48. It’s interesting to come back and read this blog, and quite saddening too. As I am really hard on myself, and the way I exercise and treat myself, the thoughts I allow – I would never treat a small child this way so why myself? I know I know it, but to just goes to show you have to live it to make the change.

  49. When we bring in doubt, it is often followed by complication, when we acknowledge the choices we make, we have the ability to change our next choice, and therefore not get caught up in the self-doubt, but accept that there was another choice open to us, a great learning each time we observe what happens.

  50. It’s awesome to see how you have moved away from the depression and hardness to being more relaxed and with your natural qualities. There are so many images and the associations and value we place on those images really impacts us at very subtle levels. For me it is an unfolding process and continually deepening. What was acceptable and nurturing last year may not be that any more. Being open to the constant changing and developing is a big part of it too.

  51. At some level we all know that true beauty comes from within so it is strange that we give so much focus to the outside.

    1. Maybe that is in part because we are not choosing to be responsible about how we live our life and the choices we make.

  52. When we are connected with ourselves our beauty is a reflection of the depth of this relationship and we have no need of outside confirmation.

  53. What I am struck by re-reading your blog is how when we are young we are just being ourselves and then when we become aware of outside influences how it’s like our bodies become the enemy to be tamed into an image that we decide is acceptable. It is only when we re-connect back to the depth of our beauty within that we are able to let go of these false images that have kept us imprisoned for so long in self-harming behaviours that have a devastating impact on how we are.

  54. Looking at your photo of you aged 37, I can see for sure that you do indeed shine as you say – “there is a quality, a lightness, a joy and a beauty that shines out from within.”

  55. Gyl,it is absolutely beautiful to read how you you feel there is ‘a quality, a lightness, a joy and a beauty that shines out from within. For the first time in my life, since I was a little girl, I can feel the grace, delicateness, beauty, sweetness and joy that I am, and I no longer hide this away.’ Wow, this is gorgeous and totally inspiring, thank you.

  56. The body image thing is a huge distraction away from the power and quality of what lies within. I don’t discount how real it is for people, and I still have it at times, but I can see how distracting it is and how the obsession of thought takes me away from my being.

  57. “It has been through these loving choices that I have made, and continue to keep making and deepening, that my life and my body has changed..” Beautigul Gyl. It makes sense that if our unloving choices can give us a heavy bloated or diseased body, then more loving choices can change our body to a more vital and healthy one – and our whole way of being then changes also. Having witnessed epic changes in health amongst students of The Way of The Livingness over the past ten years, I know this to be true – and have also experienced this myself.

  58. Gorgeous gorgeous Gyl, thank you for sharing and coming back to this simpleness of truth of who you are. We can feel it, it is so palpable from what you write and the photo’s you share. Thank you, you inspire the many many.

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