After 20 years in school and 8 years of teaching, you would think all the useful stuff I learned would have included how to love myself. I am wondering now, how I completely missed it. Was I too busy with school and then work? Was I too jealous of others? Or was I just average and like most people dissatisfied with not only my accomplishments but also the way I looked? How did I end up with a poor self image? I’ve learned something in the last week, I don’t hate the way I look. I am ok with my face, I’ve made peace with my curly, frizzy hair (by straightening it most of the time). But ultimately, I am happy with me. I don’t know why it took me so long to get here.
I can’t be the only one to grow up with self image issues, tell me if any of these sound familiar:
- Spent a lot of time as a teenager comparing self to girls in magazines
- Spent most of teenage years dieting and worrying about trendy outfits
- Started dying hair in college to look like someone else
- Even with the “perfect” outfit, still felt like something was missing
- Bought new outfits only to be disappointed, (new outfits don’t make you taller)
There is nothing wrong with admiring other people. There are some seriously gorgeous and talented people out there! There is, however, a problem with idolizing them to the point you see yourself as always lacking.
I used to pick up magazines and pour over them searching for the perfect outfit that might hide all my flaws. To be honest, it was probably less about clothes, and more about studying the girls in the magazines, all of whom had something I didn’t have. My solution was to purchase new clothes, but guess what? Buying new clothes did not help me look like one of the girls in the magazines, I just ended up looking like myself, in new clothes.
One of my biggest insecurities growing up was being short, I got teased by some of my friends, who probably didn’t know it hurt my feelings. I also had a love/hate relationship with my hair. Even though plenty of people made a fuss over how pretty my natural curls were, I was captured by the tall, wavy haired blonds that graced the pages of the magazines I devoured. I felt like my curly hair made my face look fat, and though I might get older, I would never be taller.
For too long I saw myself as someone who wasn’t 5’9”, who didn’t have a perfect nose, who’s eyes weren’t big enough, who’s lips were too thin, who didn’t have the right body shape, and who didn’t have wavy blond hair. Fast forward to my life now (thank goodness) and I am happy. I see myself, as I should see myself.
Instead of looking at myself as someone lacking, I can see now who I am, and what I bring to the table. Isn’t that the point? Why would I be anyone else but me, beautiful curly hair (though sometimes frizzy) and all?
About a week ago I saw a vision of myself. Yes I realize how oddly insane that sounds. I was awake, and I looked across the street and saw someone walking. She had dark hair and she looked happy. She turned and smiled at me. Only when she turned and smiled did I realize I was looking at myself. It was like I was looking at myself for the first time, and I saw myself differently, the way others might see me. I was shocked, my first reaction was, is that what I really look like?
Is it possible to spend so much time studying what everyone else looks like, you forget what you look like? Is it possible to compare yourself to so many people, you only see them (or the lack of them) instead of yourself? You’ve lost yourself in a very time consuming habit called comparison.
Since having that “crazy” vision I’ve noticed some things, like my height, it fits me. I have dark hair that matches my dark eyes, which are beautiful. I have small, wide feet, and I love them. My hands aren’t fat like I used to think, they are actually quite normal for my body type. I have pretty olive skin, and to be quite honest, God gave me the shape of my body. It’s “God given”, need I say more?
If you are reading this and you’ve had trouble with loving yourself especially your looks, I have something for you to try:
- Stop seeing yourself as lacking
- Imagine seeing yourself the way you are supposed to
- When a friend pays you a compliment, say “thank you” and believe them
- NEVER compare yourself to girls you’ve seen in magazines
- DO NOT compare yourself to women in your life now
- Please, be kind to yourself
- Do not tear yourself down for things that you were never meant to have, because you already have something wonderful, you!
If you have some time this week, get your journal out. Start with your hair and end with your feet! Write down as many positives as you can about yourself, and why you love them. If this is hard, then put down the magazines (or Pinterest) for awhile, give yourself a break from comparing yourself to others. Put some thought into this and make a genuine effort to love the way you look without thinking you wish you looked like someone else.
Why not be happy with yourself? Why not love who you are? If you struggle with this you aren’t alone. Break out of the comparison cycle, and while you’re at it, help one of your female friends break out of it too. Just because you love the way you look does not make you cocky. It doesn’t mean you are going to go around and flaunt your beauty to make others jealous, it simply means you are confident in the way you look. If you are confident, then you won’t need to flaunt it. Think about it, it makes sense that those with insecurities would need the world to approve of them. You don’t need the world to approve of the way you look, if you, yourself, approves.
Hope you fall in love with who you are and how you look!
Talk to you soon,