Let me begin by saying that this post isn’t just for gays, ectomorphs, straighties, giants, Asians, women, transgendered people, Muslims, etc.; it’s for EVERYONE.
Everyone is affected by body image in this era of Instagram, plastic surgery, selfies, and “who wore it best” competitions. The “perfect” body and beauty ideal is constantly thrown in our faces in order to get us to buy this celebrity-endorsed face cream or this fat blocking pill or this piece of gym equipment that will give you abs in 2 weeks. And it’s no wonder that with the LUDICROUS amount of money that the beauty industry is worth today, producers of all these products are going to do their absolute best to get you to buy EVERYTHING.
And I get it, we all have someone that we look up to for fashion, beauty, health, or fitness inspiration. And it is a wonderful thing, in my opinion, to have goals that you can work toward. After all what is the point of life if not to advance ourselves in different ways.
But when it gets right down to it, too many people are faced with depression, self-hate, and low self-esteem from this incredible pressure to be flawless. And that, is where I have put my foot down.
I am someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, a face full of acne, weird body proportions, unruly hair that never cooperates, crooked teeth, and feminine facial features in a world and culture that rewards masculinity. Some of those things can be changed, while others cannot.
But what I have come to understand is that the people, things, and experiences in life that have made me the absolute happiest, are the ones that have not judged my worth as a human being on my appearance.
I have had to make a shift in my everyday thinking and attitude towards myself and the things that I put value on in this life.
These have included:
1. Let it go. *insert cheesy gif of Elsa*
Becoming aware of judgment, determining if it is positive or negative, and allowing myself to simply let it go. Beating myself up over how my eyebrows didn’t look like Kim Kardashian’s this morning is in no way productive nor condusive to having a great day.
2. Take a look inside.
There are certain things about my body that I cannot change, i.e. my nose, ears, jawline, etc. and that is OKAY. All of the outward structures that make up our bodies and faces are what makes each of us unique and interesting (after all if we all looked like Cara Develigne we probably wouldn’t find her as beautiful as we do). Shifting the focus inwards to our hearts and the things that spark our passion is key to building happiness and self-confidence. Happy, confident people are always the most beautiful because they simply radiate! Adopt the mantra ‘beauty comes from the inside out.’
3. Surround yourself with love.
My mom always told me to surround myself with white light as a form of protection (I know, hippie Asian mom right?) but that principle absolutely applies to all areas of life. Surrouding yourself with people who love you unconditionally, with activities and work that bring you joy, and with surroudings that make you thrive will no doubt bring happiness and self-love into your life.
4. It will get better.
I remember a few years ago there was a big campaign to bring awareness to teens who were being bullied and pushed to commit suicide. The slogan for the life-saving campaign was ‘It gets better.’ And it does. Like anything in life you have to keep taking steps towards your goals. There will be moments of back tracking, but those are not failures. Humans are imperfect beings; we are in a constant mode of learning and the experiences that cause us pain and suffering are often the ones we will learn the most from.
By creating a culture that values the differences and nuances that each individual brings to the table, we are fostering an environment that will allow our children, our loved ones, and ourselves to be free in our own skin. Acceptance and tolerance are qualities that need to be at the core of all humans, without them we are only allowing hatred and ignorance to remain prevelant. We don’t need any more people telling us that we as we are are not enough. We need people screaming from their rooftops that they are perfectly imperfect. So don’t give up the fight, keep looking up.