By Sophavatey Leak
This blog was developed as part of the Voices of Youth blogging internship assignment requirement. Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.
A few weeks ago, I went to the dentist with my sister, as she needed to get her teeth checked up. As I sat in the common area waiting for my sister, I saw a toddler running around the room and finding everything she came across fascinating. The toddler, however, came to a halt when she was in front of a mirror. She stopped and stared at her own reflection, admiring it for a good one minute. The little girl was around 3 years old and indeed she was very lovely with her pinkish and squishy cheeks.
This brought me to think about how we, as teenagers or adults, start to lose this sense of self-love as we grow up. Each day, we would wake up and look in the mirror. But instead of feeling good about ourselves like how we used to as a child, most of us notice all the little flaws on our face and hate every inch of it.
Every day, as we log in to our social media account, we would be bombarded by pictures of good-looking models posing and flaunting their “perfect” body. The media is playing an important role in shaping our thoughts and behaviors. It makes girls want to achieve the almost unattainable proportions like those poster girls. When in reality, the picture must have gone through heavy editing before it reaches the public.
We are told that in order to be pretty; you have to look and present yourself in a certain way. Society has instilled in our mind what the ideal body or appearance looks like and influenced us to chase after those ideals.
It makes us feel like we are never going to be good enough being in our ‘too fat’ or ‘too skinny’ bodies. It makes us become this girl who is full of insecurities and low self-esteem.
Other people may think that we have a nice smile, a cute laugh, a healthy body, beautiful hair, a good sense of humor, a kind heart, or a good personality, etc. We may even be liked and admired by so many people out there, but the thing is our low-self esteem masked us from seeing those qualities in ourselves. The only things we choose to acknowledge are self-blame and self-hatred.
Why do we have to be so judgemental towards ourselves?
Girls need to understand the difference between looking good and being beautiful. Striving for the perfect physical appearance will only last so long. Being beautiful is more than skin deep. It goes further to who you are, your soul, your values and how you carry yourself.
There are many ways to be beautiful. What matters is that you set your own standards of what beauty means to you. Maybe it’s your kindness towards people around you. Maybe it’s your sense of humor that can light up the room. Maybe it’s your intelligence and willingness to help other people. Whatever they are, take note of your good qualities and appreciate them. They can be your source of beauty, if only you let them.
All women are beautiful when they are comfortable with who they are. A woman is the most attractive when she is happy. Striving for perfection will only make you think of how imperfect you are. Striving to accept yourself and learning how to love your body and mind will make you more confident.
Only when you are confident that it makes you feel empowered and positive. And only when you are positive that it makes you a happy person. Only then it makes you beautiful.
Of course, learning to accept yourself for who you are and be more confident is a long and difficult process that requires a lot of time and effort. You sometimes might find yourself falling back into self-blaming and self-hatred because they are a vicious habits that are hard to break. Therefore, you should be patient with yourself and not get easily frustrated.
Eventually you will get there, and all the struggle will be worth it.
Originally posted on Tuesday, September 27, 2016