What makes us beautiful varies from person to person, as we all have unique personality traits and quirks about us. While at our core, we all have the same basic needs and desires, we all express ourselves very differently. This comes from individual perceptions and ideas about the world around us, developed according to our environment and heredity. However, life experiences tend to alter our personalities a bit, which means every one of us looks at the world through our own lens.
A battle with cancer made what makes us beautiful clear to Sophie Sabbage
Sophie Sabbage, a world-renowned speaker and author who delivers powerful insights about life, offers her own take on what makes us beautiful. She draws on her own tumultuous life experiences to help others navigate theirs with grace and bravery. After getting a cancer diagnosis in 2014, she used her creativity to help her rise above crisis, which birthed some of her most transformative work. She shared some of her most sensitive memories about growing up with us, and we will pass along her inspiring message to you.
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Teenage years are often full of awkward, sometimes painful experiences
Sophie often felt singled out because she had matured faster than other girls her age. When she reached double digits, she stood at 5’5, had begun menstruating, and wore a double D-cup bra. She even had to carry an ID on the school bus to prove she was under 16. As a result, she felt as though the boys around her didn’t actually see her at all. Rather, their eyes drifted downwards toward her breasts, making her feel ashamed and vulnerable.
At 15 years old, she didn’t feel she belonged among other girls around her. However, she took it in stride and even make jokes about her appearance to lessen the embarrassment she felt.
“Here are my breasts, the rest of me is coming tomorrow,” she would tell the boys at school. “This was how I alleviated the awkwardness of boys my age, whose eyes tended to meet my overripe breasts from the age of 10 onwards.”
Sophie used humor to deflect her feelings
She said this helped break the ice with boys her age, while keeping her dignity intact. Everyone loved her sense of humor, which eased some of the tension and shifted the focus off her appearance. However, despite her growing popularity, she found that no one would dance with her at school parties.
“Those years became a catalog of humiliations and shame,” she said. “I attended my first proper dance at 14, a charity event, with a thousand tickets and heightened odds of my not merging with the flowers on the wall.”
For the event, her mom had bought her a beautiful pink chiffon dress and a new bra that complemented her figure. She had already been wearing bras for years, but still didn’t feel comfortable with her body. Every morning, her gaze would lift up to the ceiling while putting them on, and she’d imagine herself as a skinny, flat-chested girl instead.
When she got to the dance, she met up with her friends and chatted with them casually. However, she would look around occasionally, hoping that just one boy would ask her to dance. She desperately wanted someone to look beyond her appearance and into the heart that she wore proudly on her sleeve. You see, Sophie wanted to be known for more than just her breasts and self-deprecating humor.
She seemed to get her wish, much to her surprise.
“Far sooner than anticipated, a tall, dark-haired lad asked me to dance. Who knew?”
Giddy and shocked at the same time, she struggled to maintain her composure as they made their way to the dance floor. Sophie didn’t even care if no one else asked her to dance that night, or what the boy’s name was. She was just happy that someone noticed her, and felt beautiful for once.
When the lights went out and the strobe lights got switched on, they lit up anything white on the dance floor. The dimmed lighting helped Sophie relax and bring out her bold side. She allowed the music to permeate every cell in her body, letting go of every care in the world.
“My self-consciousness lifted, and for the first time since my period started and my breasts arrived, I felt worthwhile and attractive and free.”
However, after just a couple minutes of her newfound freedom, she noticed the lights had illuminated her white bra for all to see. Her dance partner picked up on this too, backing several feet away as if to say, “I am not with her.”
She realized what makes us beautiful after a hard journey
This single moment would stay with her for years to come. As time went on, she struggled with an eating disorder and fell into many toxic relationships. However, in her late twenties, she finally found her strength and self-worth after a harrowing experience.
“My boyfriend of three years pinned me to a wall and put his hands around my throat. Up til then, we’d been a perfect psychological match because I believed I was an unworthy woman, and so did he,” she realized. “But in that moment, my self-regard rose with such ferocity – something shifted that never shifted back again.”
But, those experiences gave her powerful lessons about self-worth
She finally understood that she didn’t have to prove anything to deserve self-respect. Simply being a human, existing on this Earth, meant that she mattered. Her self-worth began to blossom from that point on. Because she’d finally discovered love and acceptance for herself, she attracted someone who saw that in her, too.
She met her person at a time when she felt vulnerable and full of grief. However, her struggles made her authentic. He told her, “I don’t know anyone whose beauty is more congruent with her soul.” At that moment, she realized he had fallen in love with much more than just her appearance. He saw deep into her soul, because she refused to disrespect herself.
“My worthiness made me beautiful, because beauty is a verb, not a noun.”