Learning to Accept Myself

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About a year ago, I could not look in the mirror and smile back at myself. Someone could have offered to pay me a million dollars to smile, and I probably would still struggle to do it. I was stressed out with school, extracurricular activities, and an internship. I was getting little sleep and I felt that there was nothing I could do to feel confident about my appearance.

My mom, although I love her and I know that she has been one of my biggest supporters, always pointed out my flaws. When I wasn’t her version of good looking because I was “gaining a few too many pounds,” and my skin wasn’t clear, her feedback made me crumble into my shell. Her words made me feel as if I were one of the ugliest girls on the planet, which absolutely doesn’t make sense when I think about it because I was nowhere near being overweight or having severe acne.

I had the worst attitude and the scary part is that I didn’t even notice it while it was happening. I didn’t have the energy to confide in my closest friends or boyfriend and  I went through each day with a storm cloud over my head. Looking back, I realize how much my personality changed. I used to be known for always laughing and having the biggest smile on my face but during that period, I I was the opposite.

Today the media influences our perception of “beauty” by constantly surrounding us with images of extremely good looking girls. We end up wanting to be them because they have the “best bodies” and the “best skin” and the “best teeth”… and they’re everywhere! Over time, the images of “perfect women”  end up becoming our goal and what we think we need to be. We end up looking at ourselves in a negative light. For me, I got to the point where I had nothing good to say about my physical appearance because of how I internalized my mom’s feedback and these outside influences from media. When I looked at myself, I thought that there was always something that could be better or wasn’t “pretty.”

I didn’t get out of my funk until I started talking about what I felt and why I was so unhappy all the time. Talking with my older sister really helped turned things around. She understood everything, was incredibly easy to talk to, and she made me realize that I wasn’t alone. She experienced all the struggles that I did and probably even more. She helped guide me towards optimism and to a place where I accepted myself and  could also say positive things about who I am, inside and out.

Now, I’m at the point where I still notice how incredibly beautiful others are, but I also acknowledge that I am not necessarily ugly because I don’t look exactly as they do. In fact, I’m comfortable with how I look, and I don’t work on myself for other people. I work on myself because of self-love; I love myself enough to try to be the best that I can be and I know that I am beautiful just as any other girl is.

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