#BOAW2018: 10 (Unusual) Things That Make Me Feel Beautiful

Hey Women!

What makes you feel most beautiful? I have a hunch it has nothing to do with what we’re constantly being advertised. Never in my thirty-two years have I, or any of my female friends, said “You know, mascara makes me feel the most beautiful ever,” or “This smooth glide tampon makes me feel so freaking beautiful I can’t handle myself!” Damn, I wish I heard that sentence more often. Most of the time, we’re taught periods are a pain (and they definitely can be), but we’re not taught they make us beautiful.

I’m not knocking makeup or modern conveniences. I enjoy both of them too. There’s a place for them, sure. But what really makes you feel the most beautiful? When I think about that question, the answer has little to do with my body.

Author, blogger, and podcaster, August McLaughlin, is hosting her annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. She’s asking women all over the world to talk about what beauty means to them. And since she’s also the fab creator of GirlBoner, (“Where Good Girls Go For Sexual Empowerment”), some bloggers are writing about sexuality too.


I’ve been a participant in both categories over the years. If you want to check out one of my past posts, I recommend Heavy Petting is a No No: Sex Education for the Saint of Heart. 😉

This year, I wanted to talk about beauty as a woman in her thirties. At a time when your body starts changing (like, not bouncing back in ways it once did), it can be a mind shift to still feel beautiful in a world that emphasizes outer beauty and youthfulness so highly. My body changed, and so did my style.

There are some things that remain constant, though. That will always make me feel truly beautiful and empowered in my own skin.

10 (Unusual) Things That Make Me Feel Beautiful

1. Learning something new. 

Is there anything quite like the joy of learning something new? There’s that moment when you’ve really put time and energy and sometimes expense into understanding something that didn’t come naturally, and then…it finally clicks!

Damn, that’s a gorgeous moment.


2. Reading books out loud. 

What can I say? Words are my love language.

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3. Making art for the fun of it. 

I believe adults don’t PLAY enough. When’s the last time you picked up your ol’ Crayola 64 pack (dating myself there) and just colored? Or used a paintbrush? Or even doodled? I’m not “an artiste,” but playing around is therapeutic and relaxing for me when I remember to leave judgment at the door.

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4. A damn fine blazer. 

I’m a sucker for a power suit. Alas, I rarely get to wear them anymore. But why not give yourself a Try Day Challenge and write about it? I did.

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5. Travel

A friend of mine coined the term “wonderfully uncomfortable” and it has forever stuck with me. Traveling somewhere outside your comfort zone is a great opportunity to meet new people, hear new stories, and gain a bigger picture of the world. I always leave feeling grateful and humble afterwards. Aren’t those beautiful, genuine emotions?


6. Going for a walk. 

Cool breezes on your skin, your feet pounding the pavement or hiking the trail. I never get clarity like I do when I’m on a solo hike.

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7. Genuine, consensual touch. 

You know people who are huggers? Like good huggers, not creepy uncle huggers? There’s something beautiful and comforting about being with someone who just knows when to give you a hug or reach for your hand. Science even supports that hugging longer has positive effects on the endorphins in the brain! I value a good hug from a friend or loved one.

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8. Recognition

Who doesn’t appreciate when someone finally notices how damn hard you work?! You go, grrrl! I see you!

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9. Eating dessert for breakfast. 

Because I’m an adult. Because I can. Because I’m worth it.

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10. Not buying into all the ageist, objectified patriarchal bullshit. 

Cause ain’t no one got time for that!

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What makes YOU feel truly beautiful? 


*This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.


42 responses

  1. Jess, I love this list so much! I wish I’d discovered some of these things for myself before my forties (especially the travel one). 🙂 You are one of the most beautiful women I know!

    1. ❤ ❤ ❤
      I loved seeing your recent travel photos! It's the best kind of education you can get is really experiencing and learning about another place that's different from your own. Got any adventures planned for yourself this year?

      1. Thank you! That was an amazing vacation! I have a long list of places now. LOL I’m really hoping to return to Hungary. Maybe I’ll even be able to speak Hungarian better by then, too. I’d love to go to Iceland or Malta, but probably not this year.

        1. Iceland is on our list too! It looks breathtaking!

          1. We should coordinate and meet up there……

  2. Awesome ideas. I definitely like “I believe adults don’t PLAY enough.” I know I don’t. Committing here and now to MORE PLAY!

    1. And doing so without judgment, right? I don’t know when I got it into my head that I wasn’t an artist. No, I’m never going to be a great one, that’s not my true passion, but by saying I’m not an artist, it’s like I stopped myself from thinking I could even try to create art at all. I’m grateful for a local group of women who got together to have creativity chats and allow one another to play. It’s one of my self care activities now, just drawing/painting in my art journal. Nobody sees it but me. It’s only for me.

  3. Woman, sometimes I think you’re my sister from another mister. Because I love your 10. And feel the same way. My love of exploring different and diverse cultures and foods is why I’m not so much a cruise girl. I like to submerge myself a little. I’ve always had a coloring book thing, but we had a girls night at a Painting With a Twist a couple years ago, and I found that step out of my comfort zone to be amazing!

    1. See you at the next reunion then, sis! ❤

      Yah, some folks question why my hubs and I never take beach vacations, we are always in cities and doing a million things. I just like finding things outside the norm and meeting people and hearing their stories. Not that you can't do that at the beach, but lounging in the sand makes it harder (for me) to engage in conversations. Plus, let's be real I'll self combust if left in the sun too long. LOL

      1. LOL! The gift/curse of the red head. I like the islands, might spend a little time by the pool or beach, but I do enjoy exploring them…and the amazing cuisine. Of course, I grew up for 4 years of my life on and island country. Oddly enough, I only remember going to the beach once while I was there…LOL!

        1. True true. And Bali is one of my all time favorite places I’ve ever gone. I’m not knocking islands, but more specifically resort vacations. I don’t think you get to meet and engage with the community who actually live there. But yah, if there’s great food and island culture to learn, I’m down!

  4. I love this post, and I’d add that giving recognition is as good as getting it–really! I love the saying “we can achieve anything if we don’t care who gets the credit” and I love giving credit and kudos…it’s addictive!

    1. I LOVE this addition! Yes!!

  5. Awesome post! Creating something new is always so satisfying and nourishing. Mindful walks are a must. Traveling, reading books… everything combined is a recipe for happiness. 🙂

    1. I love that! “Recipe for happiness” 😀

  6. Love this list!! Can’t think of a thing to add. Wait, I can. Talking and laughing with old friends. I love visiting with people one-on-one and hearing what’s been going on with them, and laughing at each other’s jokes. 😀

    1. You really can’t beat authentic laughter. It is a glorious thing!

  7. Eating dessert for breakfast has always been one of my favorite things to do for the past 40 years, maybe longer, and yes, there is a real beauty in it. I see that now, thanks to your post. Good for you for throwing out the patriarchal, ageist bullshit because it is just that. The other day I reminded a fellow,”Dude, I’m not your dear.” One buck at a time, you know? LOVED this post!

    1. I get soooooo annoyed when people I don’t know call me honey or sweetie or when creepy old men try to flirt with me. It’s like “Sir, I’m at my job. They pay me to be nice to you while you check out books. I’m not here to make you feel ‘like a man’ again.” *wretch*

  8. I have chills, Jess. I adore that list! Resisting and speaking back to that patriarchal bullshit is indeed quite the beautifier. 🙂 To my list, I’d also add a good night’s sleep, moving around in nature while gabbing away with a friend and doing work I find fulfilling.

    Thanks so much for bringing your magic back to the fest!

    1. Yah, in a world that idolizes productivity, it’s important to find that beautiful balance of vision and rest. So true, my friend.

      And THANK YOU for hosting this amazing festival and giving room and space for so many voices! ❤

  9. What a phenomenal post… you are listing most of the things that make me feel beautiful too, and I know I’m not the only one. Thanks for this great idea! 🙂

    1. Hence the “unusual” part being in parenthesis. They might be unusual to mainstream beauty posts, but I knew if I had a mostly female audience we’d all be like… YAH! LOL.

      Happy festing to you!

  10. These ten unusual things will make you feel beautiful in decades to come. Very nice!

    1. Good to know! 👍🏼

  11. lynnkelleyauthor | Reply

    Wonderful post, Jess. I smiled all the way through it. Love the GIFs, too! New follower here!

    1. I think beauty comes from feeling confident, optimistic, and engaged! You can’t buy that in an aerosol can! 😝

  12. Talk about a POWER list – that was magnificent! You had me from the start, nodding my head and smiling. A great post, Jess — thanks!

    1. Well things that make me feel beautiful also make me feel powerful. Happy festing!

  13. This may sound a little weird. What makes me feel beautiful is when someone tells me how much they appreciate my kindness. To me, the true beauty of a woman is a kind heart, and when I feel like I’ve shown that, it makes me feel beautiful. See, I told you it was weird. LOL

    1. But that shouldn’t be weird at all. We could so use more kindness in the world. I love that that’s part of your list. I’m stealing it for mine too. 🙂

  14. Yes, girl YES!!! First let me start by saying I’m obsessed with your selection of gifs! But I love everything about this post. You mention that the things on this list are not the things that are advertised to us and it’s funny because after reading through the comments it sounds like most of us identify so strongly with each one! I know I do! This is a great reminder to recognize and acknowledge these things in other women. For example, I’m going to make it a point to recognize at least 1 person every day this week for a job well done 🙂

    1. Love that, Erica!

      I knew women would identify with many of these and it’s a shame we don’t grow up honoring them and having them more visible throughout our journeys.

  15. Oh, Jess!

    What a list! =D

    1. It’s a big reason why we unschool – I love that feeling, and want my kids to always have it as their own, too.

    2. Yup. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done is read the rough draft of one of my novels to my kids when they were young. Not only did they finally start to understand what I do at my laptop, but my daughter gave me a fantastic idea (I still owe her “narwhal people”), both offered valuable constructive criticism, and we explored related topics together.

    I’ve also read my poetry aloud, and, at the end of the month, I’ll be reading from my Pushcart Prize-nominated short story, “Being Colette” – at a bookstore. *gulp!* Thanks for reminding me there’s beauty in that.

    3. Again, unschooling. And fan fiction with Vulcans in it. =D

    4. It’s been years since I owned a blazer – now I think maybe I need one again. I’ll take mine in turquoise, I think.

    And the rest of the lineup – I couldn’t agree more.

    Excellent list, and a wonderful post!

    1. I love that you read your work to your kids! Best of butterflies and bravery to you on your reading coming up! Sounds like a wonderful evening! I hope you have a magical night!

      1. I called it homeschooling. =) It was a story set in 1613, partly in the Globe Theatre, and we made side forays into Shakespeare’s world…it was lovely.

        Thank you for the wishes. In the next few days, I need to start pulling things together for that – I still don’t quite know WHAT I’m going to read, exactly. I probably should, right?

  16. I love this!!! It’s so cool to see beauty being talked about it another way than just physical. I feel beautiful when I get comfy in bed after a long day and just watch something on youtube for the fun of it. I also feel beautiful when I write. Such a beautiful post. 🙂

    1. Love both those things too! Happy writing!

  17. Truly an amazing read! You are very wise. When I think of feeling beautiful my thoughts are complex & often confusing . Due to my health & restrictions from running for almost two years I feel very ugly. I felt beautiful & powerful as a runner. My runs use to give me a mental break . I was proud of my stamina & enjoyed the beauty of trail runs . Losing that chèvre my body & broke my spirit . Your list is incredible. Number 10 is the last challenging one however, I believe it’s the key unlocking that confidence. I’m finally cleared to run again staring April 5. I will eat dessert for breakfast before my runs! I am already walking as I read your other pieces! ❤️

    1. I’ve never been a runner, but I can identify. I love doing solo walks on the gorgeous marsh trails and forest in my city. I stopped doing them for awhile after a creepy instance with a strange man on a bike who wouldn’t leave me alone. I talked with other women who were hikers/runners who either had or feared similar experiences. After taking a mentorship class with a group of other women, one of the ways I challenged myself was to go hiking again. I loved it. It does make you feel beautiful because it’s the kind of quietude and natural beauty that lets your mind free up and really think and process stuff. Sometimes I still get the creeps while out, but I don’t let that control whether I will or won’t step out. The reward has been far larger.

      1. What’s sad about this is it’s so prevalent & I haven’t met a single runner that doesn’t have a similar story. The best thing you can do is trust Your Instincts. I was lucky enough to have a well trained Service Animal & beautiful Australian Shepherd. Boomer was amazing . Unfortunately, we had to euthanize him due to his health. I think it’s been almost 2 years . I don’t think I would have been able to run like I did without him there. I miss him. He was always with me. Hiking is great but I am clumsy. I got stuck on a hill in Colorado in the Garden of The Gods. Let’s just say it was hilarious trying to talk me down .

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