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Every single time I walk by a mirror I look and see my flaws. I am not as thin as I wish I could be, my hair is turning gray, the skin under my neck is flabby, I have red patches on my face ..my arms have baby bat wings..all of this stares back at me when I see my reflection. I know I am not alone in harboring insecure feelings about the way I look or the way I imagine the world sees me because I see the same reactions and witness the same self doubt when I am with other women. It makes me wonder how do we as women get to this place?

I just spent 4 of the best days of this year with very dear friends ..both old and new..in Miami where body image and fashion are on display at all hours of the day and night. Young women who are strong and confident in their own skin walking about in nothing more than a bathing suit (which left very little to the imagination) or a bathing suit and cover up were all around us not only on the beach but also walking about on the main streets Collins Ave and Ocean ..simply gorgeous. If I can be perfectly honest what I found most attractive was not how thin or how shapely these women were ..it was the beauty in their self confidence. Now there were also women we encountered on the beaches in both Miami and on our adventure to the Gulf Coast chasing the sun who were not what one would consider the ideal candidate for wearing a bikini confidently wearing a 2 piece suit and not giving a flying f*** about what anyone else thought. GOD I wish I could bottle that and distribute it to women world wide because let me tell you something..confidence is beautiful..confidence is sexy.

My friends are some of the most gorgeous women I know. My friends are stunning inside and out…I do not think I have ever noticed their weight or a gray hair or wrinkle ever in the years I have known them (it has been a very long time by the way..I am blessed to have friends who have been there since I bloomed very a young girl into a young woman and now as woman in the prime of my life). Here is what I do notice..I notice that when we get together a smile lights up our faces, I notice the sound of laughter when we spend time together and I notice just how empowered I feel in their presence. That is what true beauty is.

I will say to you what I said to them when we discussed how uncomfortable we all felt posting pictures on social media or nitpicked our perceived flaws..we are beautiful. We own bodies that have nurtured and given life to amazing children..our bodies have protected and fed and been pushed to places we never thought that we could go. Our minds and hearts have nourished and loved knowledge, accepted friends, contributed to our perspective careers ..made a difference in ways large and small in this world..that is a beautiful thing. Individually we are strong and beautiful..together we are a force to be reckoned with.

We often say we look back on pictures of us from our high school years or young adult years and say look how gorgeous we were ..we thought we were fat and ugly then..if only we could go back and tell that girl how amazing and beautiful she was. I say tell that girl who is a woman now that she is still gorgeous..that every line is earned and holds 100 happy memories, that every stretch mark is a souvenir of a life we brought into this world, a little extra weight reflects good times..let’s stop criticizing ourselves ..let’s start loving ourselves. This is not to say let yourself go..no what I am saying is for every insecurity you have the world is not judging you nearly as harshly as you judge yourself. SO wear the bathing suit, go to the beach..laugh with your friends, shed the make up, share some dessert..smile in your pictures ..don;t worry if you missed your hair appointment and the gray shows..you are so beautiful my friends