Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught—directly and indirectly—that women are supposed to be beautiful.
Our role models as little girls were beautiful princesses who men sought and loved. They had everything we crave: the perfect face, the perfect life, the perfect guy.
Over the years, we internalized the message that appearance is everything, and everything else just follows. And we began comparing ourselves to all those gorgeous women on television who had a ton of makeup on, and all those airbrushed photos of models in magazines. We realized that we looked nowhere near as beautiful as those women looked, and our entire self-image was shattered.
To live up to the self-image hardwired into our brains at such a young age, we worked harder on how we looked. We straightened our hair, put on a shit load of makeup so we couldn’t even recognize ourselves anymore, and meticulously picked dresses that complemented our bodies. So much of our energy went into "looking good," to live up to the image that was unfortunately painted for us as children.
And we still weren’t satisfied.
The thing is, no matter how hard you try, you can’t compete with hours of professional makeup and hairstyling, and you can’t compete with Photoshop. We learned this the hard way.
So what do we do now? How do we defeat that voice in our head that constantly tells us that we’re a failure because we’re not beautiful enough?
I know that we are conditioned to love a standard image of beauty, but is that all there is to us?
Too thin, too fat, too fair, too dark, too tall, too short? Is that how we want to define ourselves our entire life?
How about too smart? Too strong? Too confident? Too adventurous? Too kind?
It is not up to other people to define who you are. It is up to YOU. The fact that we evaluate ourselves on a scale of ugly to beautiful is because this measurement of our self-worth was ingrained into our minds at a very young age. And we can, with persistent, conscious effort, change the way we perceive ourselves.
Women who spend their time obsessing over celebrities, makeup and social media tend to be more depressed and insecure than women who engage in positive, healthy activities.
So instead of trying on new clothes and new makeup and fishing for compliments to feel better about yourself, start a new activity today. (Yes, today. We all know you are not going to start tomorrow.) Take up reading, or painting, or running, or whatever else it is that you enjoy. Stay at it consistently for as long as possible. Do it EVERY DAY without fail. Then evaluate how you feel about yourself after a few days.
Here are a few positive results of that activity:
- You will have built a new, healthy habit that you actually enjoy.
- You will be doing something you love every day, which will give you the validation you otherwise require from people.
- You will no longer be as obsessed with your appearance as you were before since you now have positive, productive thoughts to fill your mind.
- You will not define yourself by your appearance anymore; instead, you will look at yourself as an avid reader, a fast runner, a passionate writer, et cetera. And that is, no doubt, a much better self-definition.
We need to internalize the fact that how we look means nothing. You are not automatically successful just because you were born with a genetic lottery. If we want to feel good about ourselves, we have to take action and work on the things that matter.
And appearance doesn’t matter.