I’d like to think that most people who know me think of me as a confident, outgoing person. In fact, I often pride myself on my “I don’t give a shit what you think” personality, specifically when it comes to fashion and beauty. I like wearing things other people wouldn’t dare. I love attempting hair colors and makeup that I will most likely cringe at 5 years down the line. It’s a bit of a trademark and I never hesitate to try to empower other women to follow suit.
This comes from a deep-seated belief that every woman and girl no matter her size, height, hair color etc. has the right to feel beautiful. There are few feelings more painful for me than the gut ache I endure when I witness another woman’s self-consciousness. Millions of questions run through my head: Who in your life has told you you’re not beautiful? What advertisement did you see today that made you painfully aware of your self-perceived flaws?
The truth of the matter is that I’m not viewing these scenarios from an all-mighty, high self-esteem vantage point. On the contrary, I battle my appearance every day. If I could count the times in a day that I catch a glance at myself and instinctually think of an improvement, I’d be in the thousands by the end of the month.
In fact, there isn’t a time I can remember not being conscious of my weight or appearance. In second grade I distinctly remember lying next to a boy during reading time and hoping that I looked “sexy” – a term I had recently learned and equated with pretty. By the time I was in the 6th grade, my best friend and I decided to attempt the Atkins diet because we wanted to be “better people” for middle school. I didn’t eat anything my mother cooked for over a week because it didn’t adhere to those insane guidelines. (Until she masterfully cooked all my favorite foods in order to break down my irrational resistance to carbs.)
Still, my preteens consisted of constantly obsessing over my weight with other girls – we would compare our current weights with the weight we thought would be best for our body types, inevitably using a prettier, skinnier girl’s assumed weight as a goal.
Finally, I decided I would fake self-confidence until I actually felt it. I don’t think it was until my junior year of college that I began to feel okay with myself and, in particular, decided I had had enough with the obsession of my weight.
This is my realization: I already love myself -genuinely, truly, deeply – as I am. I absolutely have to accept myself in my current state if I want to be happy.
Do I still want to improve myself? Of course. But I want to make sure that I project my self-love and not my self-conscious thoughts. This is first and foremost for me – to teach myself to focus on the positive. However, it’s also for other women, to hopefully be someone who appears confident in themselves and provide any sort of inspiration or support for those who also struggle.
This is my promise: despite my flaws, weaknesses and bad hair days I’m bound to struggle through, I will not let comparison to others be the decider of my self-worth. I will not let a magazine dictate the weight at which I will be most beautiful. I will not let my value be based on a man’s opinion of my appearance. Most importantly, I will always encourage other women to love themselves as well.
Self-love is a constant job, may we never take a day off.