Everything is constantly reminding us that we’re not physically enough. Our face is never quite right, our body could do with improvement (thinner, thicker), our style isn’t perfect (too young, too old, too flashy). The media, advertising, our friends and family all tell us (directly or indirectly) how we should or could look.
We know we shouldn’t listen to them. But it breaks us down eventually. Before we know it, our self-worth is dented because of things beyond our control: genes, wealth and the age we live in.
The desire to feel physically attractive is innate. But attractiveness as a concept is subjective. So how do we give ourselves the permission to feel pretty?
1. Control your thoughts
Start thinking for yourself. Don’t take comments which trigger your insecurities, at face value. Critique and question the physical ideals around you.
For instance, an Aunt says you’re flat-chested and laughs implying your physical beauty is inadequate. She could be saying this because she’s old and boobs were the thing in her time. She may make the comment in a public gathering and gets attention being a troll. She might be insecure.
When someone makes a judgement, good or bad, on any woman’s looks, they filter their opinions through a ridiculously complex prism of their own historical influences, emotions, thoughts and circumstances. So no one can say for a fact that you’re not physically good enough. This applies to people you know, and the masses of people you don’t.
Be very picky about what you allow yourself to believe. Allow only comments which reinforce your positive self-image to come through.
2. Appreciate your uniqueness
No one on the planet looks like you. You have a combination of physical and facial features which are entirely unique. Look at yourself in the mirror properly. Then look at yourself from the angle of someone who could think you’re stunning. Soak up all the little idiosyncrasies that make you you.
Everyone might tell you you’ve got a great smile. They may also think you’ve got beautiful hands or a cute chin, but that sounds weird to say so you might never hear it. You might know you have a really cute ass, but it might not be something you have on show often.
So your beauty can’t be reduced to your physical proximity to your favourite Instagram model. That’s why it’s better to err on the side of caution and enjoy it all. Know your body, know your face and know you’re the only one built this way for a reason.
3. Remember that feeling beautiful is a form of service
Self-hate or self-criticism might seem harmless because it only affects you, but think of the bigger picture. When you think you aren’t enough, you subconsciously tell others who look like you that they aren’t enough either.
If you find it difficult to find beauty in the mirror because it’s self-indulgent, do it for the others who look like you (and will grow up to look like you).
Confidence is contagious, and it comes in many forms. We all know pioneers who have smashed preconceived notions of what it means to be attractive. Slick Woods, Winnie Harlow, Ashley Graham.
Stand your ground in the belief that your outer beauty is worthy. If you don’t see anyone who looks like you, blaze the trail! You have a right to. We shouldn’t be timid in the face of the overwhelming sameness of society’s conceptions of beauty, we shouldn’t let it knock our confidence. Set a new standard, for yourself and others. Be unapologetic and don’t be afraid of the backlash.
You are gorgeous. Believe it, practice it and embody it. It’s one of the most revolutionary things you can do.