Like many of you, I struggle with body image. For me it’s been going on for a long time. I had a brief respite while living abroad, as my personality seemed more important to my new friends. They didn’t care about my height, weight or what color I decided to dye my hair. They accepted me, welcomed me, and I finally fit in. If any of you happen to be reading (yes, we’re still friends, thanks to air mail and now the internet) thank you from the bottom of my heart. You make me feel incredibly gorgeous!
During my childhood, people (aka peers) would look at me and comment on how pale, short, unstylish and freckled I looked. They made rude comments, and yes, the little things hurt. I was left out from the parties, the social scene and generally looked upon as the outcast. But no pity party here. Eventually, I stopped caring about them, and found my own place. God bless the punk/alternative scene. That, and my artistic, creative side saved me. I didn’t perceive myself as pretty or any other type of attractive, nor did I think I would ever, until now. And even this is tough.
I realized (OK, admitted) quite late in the game, that beauty is socially created. Who dictates what makes a person beautiful? It should be about feeling beautiful in your own skin. It’s about attaining a certain comfort level, and accepting that different is OK. So when you see me with my Doc Martens tromping through Boca, smile and say hi. I’m good. And I will probably tell you how beautiful you are too.
Now dear readers, I want to share some important truths that I learned to help us all feel better in our own skins, even with all of our “imperfections.”
Beauty is socially constructed: This is a huge aha moment. While we may not be considered as good looking in our own country, in some other part of the world we may be perceived as a beautiful person. In some countries, (a clue to those who know me) things like height, complexion, hair color, facial features, and body shape—things we might see as “imperfections” are considered attractive traits. I know where I have to go, and it sits deep within, and I know, I am beautiful.
True beauty comes from within: Cliché, but actually true. No matter how attractive a person’s face, sad or angry faces are never pretty. Behaving with disrespect to others, or acting egotistically, arrogantly, or just plain rude, no matter how beautiful the façade, people will not want to spend much time around the narcissistic and negative person. A simple smile can bring radiance and beauty to every single face. Personality plays a very large part in attraction.
Self-care is the road to self-love: Nourish your body with good food, practice clean eating, clean living. Engage in some type of physical activity that you enjoy, and you will feel better in your own skin. You’ll also learn to love and respect yourself in the long run. Be grateful for your body, which houses your amazing self in this lifetime. Think of all you can do with it- dance, swim, run, move, hug your loved ones, smile, eat, write, paint, cook, kiss, and so much more! Stop focusing on the color your eyes, and focus on how fortunate you are to be able to see. Don’t dwell on how skinny, short, or fat you are, but on how blessed and privileged you are to be able to move freely, and think clearly. Some are not so lucky.
Stop the negative self-talk: Just stop. Replace those negative, ugly thoughts with positive ones. You will only crush your self-esteem and feel insecure and less worthy. And that is not acceptable. Stop repeating the same old negative story over and over in your head. Love yourself, with all of your imperfections. They make you unique, and nobody wants to be a carbon copy Barbie doll anyway.
The beginning is going to be a killer, trust me, I’ve been there. Sometimes I still wage war with the negativity in my mind. But I know, like you – admit it, is that the first step to letting go of the negative self-talk is to notice when these thoughts pop up. Once you are aware, it’s easy to head them off at the pass and replace them with more positive thoughts. Focus on what you love about ourselves that has nothing to do with appearance. Me, I love that I can write, especially my poetry. (Sorry, no shares here…yet.)
Confidence can be more attractive than good looks: Imagine that you meet two people: The first is someone very attractive, but also very insecure. They feel unworthy and need validation and compliments from you constantly. The second is someone average looking but communicative, funny, and brave. They are secure with themselves and feel confident expressing their thoughts and feelings. Which one would you choose to hang out with? Be honest, not the ‘plastic.’
So, to sum it all up for you, although we can’t really change our appearance, there are many things that within our control that we can do to feel better about ourselves. We can certainly wear clothing that reflects our personality (I am somewhere torn between hippie chick and goth girl) and makes us feel more confident. Heaven knows when I am in my DMs I feel like I could conquer the world. We can exercise to improve our body tone, style our hair in a way that we like, nourish our skin, make sure we get enough sleep and drink plenty of water, decide to eat healthier, etc. I’m sure you get the gist. And once we do these things for ourselves, we begin to feel good and comfy in our own skin. We may even like ourselves, just a tad. I promise, other people will start seeing how beautiful you are too.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕
Feel better with some Good Charlotte:
(These guys nailed it)