Happy International Women's Day!

“We are all beautiful and pretty but it’s the judgmental society that we live in that makes us feel ugly.”

I remember looking at my reflection in my bathroom and crying. Why are my pores so big, why is my skin so textured, why is my face so asymmetrical and worst of all how can I be pretty? Those were the questions I asked myself on one Saturday morning after a long week of studying and working.

I’ve always dealt with self-esteem issues and low self-confidence from a very young age and it only seemed to exacerbate when I entered secondary school where bullying was very common for me. That psychological and mental abuse taken almost every day really took its toll and made me wonder what life would be like on “the pretty side”.

"The pretty side" in my head consisted of beautiful poreless skin, slim toned bodies, no facial hair or body hair for women, no blemishes, perfect symmetrical faces and the woman that gets the attention. This list was my version of the 10 commandments that I tried to live up to. Everyday, I would search for new products for my closed comedones and oil prone skin, I would always work out and restrict my eating habits but to no avail.

Everytime I would restrict my food, I would end up eating more, everytime I tried a new product in a span of a month, I would break out and then I realised, I don’t even want to be perfect for myself, I want to be perfect for society. We all go through that phase of “glowing up” and I am sure every woman has tried and researched new products and ways to get rid of their perfect imperfections that we all have.

The “glowing up” trend is so toxic on social media. We tend to assume that “glowing up” should be physical and extreme, but how is the exterior body going to cope with the negative interior dialogue…to put it simply, it cannot.

What I realised over the years is that we live in a society that constantly competes, constantly compares and constantly strives to these unrealistic beauty standards. What makes this whole ordeal worse is that children even as young as 13 are being exposed to this via easy access to social media platforms. 

I just want to say that a lot of content on social media is usually fake, in the sense that it has been edited, retouched and much more, but many of us fail to realise. Influencers and celebrities are human beings too, they have pores, they have facial hair, they have blemishes, they have redness and everything we have! The majority of posts that we see of them are edited but this usually isn't stated in their posts.

We don’t have to strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist and I wish I learnt that sooner but now that I know, I know I can rely on myself for validation and not others. If you have ever seen the movie I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer, you would know that Amy doesn’t actually feel good about her body or face at the beginning of the movie but after she falls, her mindset differs and now she is in love with her face and body. She becomes totally convinced that she was the hottest  woman out there and in return, a lot of good things happen to her. For example, her new attitude lands her a job as a receptionist at a cool fashion/beauty store, which the old Amy would never have imagined. This film prompted me to wake up and change my inner dialogue to “I am a healthy, happy supermodel”.

This movie changed my perspective on how I viewed myself because all of us are beautiful, but it’s the judgmental society that we live in that makes us feel ugly and the inner dialogue we speak to ourselves is very important. If you say you are ugly, you will feel ugly but if you say that you are pretty, you will be pretty. If you want the world to change its view on you, you have to change your view on you.

And this is what it comes down to: who do you want to be and how can you get there? Sit down and ask yourself, am I striving to look and act a particular way as seen on social media, or am I striving to be me and to embrace my perfect imperfections?

I know that the questions that I asked can cause you to think more deeply but I also know from my own experiences that it is hard to move away from the trends of social media. Here are 3 tips on how you can put time in for yourself:

1. 5 Second Rule

Mel Robbins introduced this rule many years ago with her book The Five Second Rule. By counting down from 5 you force yourself to not think of excuses and it makes you do the action you want to do. This can really help with eliminating bothering thoughts and procrastination.

2. Listen to a nice uplifting podcast

A podcast and a walk are the best things ever to clear your head and it gives you a chance to listen to something inspirational.

3. Journal

Journal your thoughts and progress you are making. All our thoughts get compiled together which makes it harder to understand what is causing the emotion that we are feeling. To help this, write down what you are feeling, where do you feel the emotion and how can you improve that emotion, for example from anger to calmness.

I just want to say one last thing: remember that you are beautiful, you are amazing - you might not feel it now but it will come.

Together let’s uplift each other and the people around us, Happy International Women’s Day!

Aiyesha Swarnn

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