advice

You are beautiful

12:00:00 AM

Personal care brand Dove (US) recently came out with an amazing campaign for real beauty, and although I'm assigned to ice cream, this ad made me proud to have once been part of Unilever. Anyway, this ad shows how women can be so critical of themselves. A forensic artist drew two sketches of the women asked to participate - one based on their descriptions of themselves, and the other based on what other people have to say. The results gave me goosebumps. If you haven't seen it, watch the video below:


It's disturbing how horrible women are to themselves. That commercial focuses on the face, but I think women are equally (if not far more) harsh on themselves when they look at their bodies. Perhaps it's the result of an overly critical mother, who make them feel unworthy. Or a bad set of friends, who make them feel ugly in an effort to feel better about themselves. Or painful experiences with men, who traded them in for Barbie-doll types. Or reading too many beauty magazines, which tell women that beautiful is what they are not. Or society, in general, because let's face it, the world out there is just really harsh. Or all of the above.

Take a look at the picture below. I don't know about you, but what I see is an absolutely beautiful young woman. She has a stunning face - big and round eyes, high-set cheekbones, symmetrical nose, and full lips. If anything, I would criticize her for not smiling enough, because I know that that would make her look even more beautiful than she already does. I think her body is just as nice - long and shapely arms and legs, breasts that are perfect for her body type, and really sexy hips. But I guess all she, and probably a handful of other insecure people, could see are the flaws. A lot of women are guilty of this.
Ladies, we need to stop doing this.
(image from the internet)
My mother raised me in an unorthodox way; she's always the first to point out that I wasn't pretty or sexy, so she encouraged me to read so I would at least be smart. I had (and probably still have) some friends who have little control over their mouths; with or without malice, some of their words do sting. I've had one boyfriend who left me for a girl who's quite the hottie. I look at women in all those ads for clothes and beauty products and I sometimes find myself wondering why my skin isn't as clear or why my breasts aren't as big or why my legs aren't as long.

Some friends used to get frustrated when they try to pay me compliments, because I would either flat out disagree, or try to divert the person's attention to any one of my numerous flaws. One of my friends, J-Sio, actually called me out on that. He told me that I should just learn to just graciously say thank you, especially since I didn't ask for the praise given to me. While it's good to be grounded and realistic, it can't hurt to accept kind words from people, particularly from those who mean it.

The problem is I see myself the way the women in the photos above and below see themselves: where others see something good, it's the flaws that I'm quick to point out. Although I've learned to thank people for their compliments, I will admit that I occasionally still have to deal with the voice at the back of my head that tells me that the person complimenting me must be wearing beer goggles or something. That usually happens when I'm hormonal because of my period.
You're the only one who sees the monster.
(image from the internet)
Like most women, I definitely understand what it's like to not feel good about oneself. I shared earlier that my mother was critical of me. Like any other teenage girl with a lot of angst, I took that against her when I was growing up. As I matured, however, I realized the value of what she did. For starters, she wanted me to focus on what's in my head rather than what's on it. She always told me to read as many books as I can so I could wow people with conversation even if my looks left them underwhelmed.

And more importantly, she wanted me to be strong, because the world out there is tough and I needed to be ready. She wanted me to come to terms with my flaws by pointing them out to me, so that when other people did it, it wouldn't hurt, or at least not as much. Some would argue that she could have done things differently, and I won't contest that. But I think her method worked on me, because even if I still have my insecurities, I've actually grown comfortable in my own skin, flaws and all.

I'm human, so I still struggle with insecurities. There are days when I feel bloated, and when stress-induced pimples flood my face, I don't feel very confident. Hormones can really do that to people. But I've learned to accept myself, to love myself, that even if I am still the last person in the world who would say out loud that I'm beautiful, I'm also the last who would say that I'm not. And because I love myself enough, I'm able to see and appreciate my beauty, however unconventional it is.
And you better believe it.
(photo from the internet)
Everyone is beautiful; some are just more accepting of themselves than others. Being comfortable with how I look doesn't mean I don't strive for some improvements. I occasionally use makeup to highlight my good features and cover up skin imperfections. I pick clothes that flatter my figure. I wear high heels sometimes even if they hurt my feet. I exercise and I try to eat right in order to be healthy, and also to be sexy. I can be superficial, too; I'm just really lazy on most days. 

I believe that wanting to look better does not necessarily make a person insecure. It's wanting to look better for other people that makes one insecure, because that's seeking validation from the wrong sources. It doesn't hurt to listen to people's opinions, especially of those who mean well. It's not a bad thing to seek approval from the persons you respect. But ultimately, your judgment of you is what should matter most.

The bottom line is you have to love yourself, not in spite of, but because of your flaws. Note that there's a big difference between the two. The former lacks the the most important ingredient, which is acceptance. You have to accept yourself completely, because it's the only way to really love yourself, to be happy with who you are. It's simple, yes, but it's not easy. But you owe that to yourself, because you are beautiful even if you think otherwise.

isawisay

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