bonnieIn today’s media, people are constantly being barraged by various messages and images pertaining to the ‘perfect body,’ ‘summer body,’ ‘confidence weight,’ ‘the beautiful body type’ and countless other descriptions of the ‘ideal’ hairstyle, makeup, weight, height, skin color, eye color, face shape, curve proportion, clothing style and other methods of expression. Messages of ‘not good enough’ or ‘strive for perfection’ are toxic to anyone who is exposed to it, especially young kids who may look up to the models portrayed as ‘ideal’. They begin to believe that in order to be considered attractive or worthy, they need to be exactly like what they see in the media. This can be very damaging, and it takes a significant amount of effort to tune out and ignore messages of negativity and self-shame.

Finding a sense of security in one’s image in our image-obsessed and patriarchal society takes a great deal of courage, willpower, support, and overall strength. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with these qualities from the get-go. Those who are not the most confident, courageous and/or supported may struggle with self-acceptance and self-love. In my opinion, self-acceptance and loving yourself for who you are as a person is by far the most important aspect of self-esteem; however, how you feel about your outer self oftentimes takes a major effect on your overall self-esteem. Loving and taking care of yourself inside and out is immensely important. Understanding that your character and actions speak way louder than how you appear to others is essential to the process of solidifying love and care for yourself, and attention to one’s outward appearance should come after the establishment/upkeep of your mental and physical health.

People can be mean. People say judgmental and hurtful things to others unprovoked, and it may very well take an effect upon one’s levels of self-esteem and perception on themselves. Having a solid, positive view on the self and acknowledging that mean people do not have any real hold may help defend oneself against verbal abuses. Seeing yourself for who you truly are, a well-rounded, accepting, positive, and worthy individual, will help you to be the best person you can be.
Having a strong sense of self-love, self-esteem, resilience, and acceptance for both yourself and others is the most beautiful attribute one can have, and no one can take that away.

Societally-designated beauty standards are almost impossible to achieve, and most people are not naturally destined to look like the “ideal person”. In my opinion, the true ‘ideal person’ is one who is kind, accepting, loving, respectful, and open-minded. Respect and love for oneself and others is more beautiful than anyone’s outward appearance. If we focus on pleasing the gaze of those around us, and perpetually being critical of ourselves based solely upon our looks, a true, healthy sense of self-love and acceptance can never be achieved. By working on the inside, we grow to love and cherish what is on the outside, and accepting what is both on the inside and outside of those around us creates a chain of love, respect, and positivity.