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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the wall #UsGirls Feature

Mirror, mirror on the wall


Written by Catarina of

(all the rights to this picture belong to Edward Monkton)

Lemony Snicket once wrote, “I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong”. I would like to invite Mr. Snicket over for tea and ask him if he ever paid a visit to a fortune-teller who accidently told him about today’s society. If not, little did he knew that this quote would perfectly describe our World.
When we were little, we were taught that we should always respect others. We should accept them as they were and we should always look beyond the physical image. What’s inside is what matters, they would tell us. And we believed them. We were 3-7 year olds who knew nothing else but how to choose the best flavoured lollipop. But as we grew up, the ideas we had stabilished on our minds were slowly deleted by some sort of invisible machine created by mass media. When we reached pre-puberty, we started feeling self-conscious about our image. The acne, the hair, the voice, the stomach, all those little things started growing on us. When we reached puberty itself, we became slaves of the fashion mass media. The perfect girl has long legs, blonde hair, blue eyes and a flat stomach. The perfect boy has dimples, a strong voice and a six-pack. Slowly, this image was put into our brains and we started to think we should be a life version of Barbie and Ken. Things didn’t get easier when we reach our 18’s and that is when we started wishing we could be 4 again.
Even though we know there is a thing called “Freedom of Thought”, some of us have a hard time to respect that. It’s not entirely up to us, to be honest. We are constantly bombarded with tips and tricks to stay in shape and to look our best. Youtube is filled with videos of girls teaching others how to put on their make-up or on how to do their hair. Magazines are filled with publicity of ‘magic’ lotions and make-up tools that can make you look like a celebrity. Photoshop has been invented and… Well, we don’t need to talk much about it, do we? The thing is: even when we try to go back to the idea we were taught when we were little, there are loads of other ideas that are being presented to us. When we reach our 18’s - emergent adulthood - we act according to the chip we have on our brain: we must look perfect all the time. But what happens when we can’t reach perfection?
No matter how old we are, where we are in life, there is always moments when we start feeling ‘not-pretty’. We start questioning if joining a gym would be a good idea and if the idea of wearing shorts shouldn’t be pulled to the side. It is normal to feel this way. But when you and your doubts are put in the middle of today’s society, things can get rough. Take me, for example: I am 22 years old and I don’t feel confident in my own body. I have people surrounding me telling me how good I look in dresses and shorts and, still, I hate my legs. I look at models and celebrities and I wish I could have their legs. I workout and I start feeling the frustration boiling because the results are taking too long to show up. I start using jeans and only jeans because they can, somehow, tighten up my legs and make them feel thinner. I still wish my legs could look like Miranda Kerr’s. What I meant to say is: it is normal to not feel pretty all the time. It’s normal to be frustrated with your own body. It’s normal to ‘hate’ that specific part. It’s normal to wish to be somebody else. It is normal. I am 100% sure that Cristiano Ronaldo or Heidi Klum also feel insecure about their own bodies from time to time. And, still, we feel like that is crazy since they have amazing bodies. That’s the thing about the human eye. We can always see beauty and talent on others. But when it comes to us, we change the lenses of our glasses and we only see the bad things - that mark on our legs that no one cares about, but it’s the only thing we can see or that small pimple that seems to ruin every photograph even though it’s not even visible. We all own those two pair of glasses. It’s up to us to decide with which ones we want to see ourselves.
The ride it’s not easy. I am 22 years old and I am still working on the process of liking myself. But, along the way, I am learning. I have bad-image-days. I have days when all I want to do is cry over my legs or my stomach or my hair. And I have days when I feel pretty. There is no solution to increase your body confidence - believe me, I tried to look it up. It’s up to you (and only you) to find it. If I am allowed to give you one piece of advice… Throw away those magazines. Turn off your TV. Close that Internet tab. Step away from the mirror. Do not limit yourself to the image others claim to be perfect. Do not follow the crowd, but create your own path. Feel free to use the negative lenses, but make sure to wear the positive ones way more often. Listen to other people’s compliments. Compliment them. Specially on their personality. On little things. Go out and enjoy the little things. Like the sunset. Or the butterflies. Compliment yourself. Repeat “I am beautiful” as many times as you want. Point out the things you love about yourself. That mark you have on your leg: that is you. It has a story, like every other mark you own (visible or invisible). Remind yourself on a daily basis that you are only a human but you won’t break because of that. Remind yourself that we all hold cracks on the surface that we are too afraid to show. Do not limit yourself because of what a magazine says. Love yourself.
It will take time, it will. It is much likely that you won’t be feeling super-hyper confident by the end of this article. But thinking about it is the first step. And the first step is always the scariest and most difficult one. Now you only have greatness to achieve, no matter how long it takes. You will always have people ready to cheer you up and clap once you reach the top. And, please, never forget that little advice our parents and grandparents used to give us during a warm afternoon: “Your beauty comes from the inside. If you are happy and you smile, you will be the most beautiful person out there”

1 comment

  1. Gosh, this post is from the heart and I think most of us will be able to relate to it. I feel bad for my (hopefully) future children, I think it's tougher for the kids of today, they aren't allowed to be children and there is such a pressure on them at a young age to look a certain way. Confidence definitely comes with age, I'm in my late 20's and I probably feel the most confident I've ever been, but of course, I have serious hang ups...Why don't I have abs and toned arms!? But I'm not bothered not enough to do something about it (I've been thinking about getting a gym membership for the past 10 years). I hope we start to see a shift in the media and I've noticed a subtle one. Certain mags have started praising celebrities who don't have abs and Heidi Klum's legs, for their beautiful bodies. I know they aren't ranting about their amazing personalities but it's a tiny start. We don't *need* to have perfect bodies to be seen as beautiful. I read this quote earlier today; 'If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?' - Food for thought!

    Tara x


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