A few days ago I was talking to a friend of mine, she is a lovely girl and very pretty. I don’t remember quite how the conversation led to this but at some point she said to me… “you are an attractive girl, you’re not this gorgeous supermodel type, you’re definitely not a miss Universe, but you are attractive.” Now before you crucify my friend in your mind and decide that she’s definitely not nice for saying that, I will say the following: isn’t that what all women think? About themselves? About their friends, about everyone who isn’t on the front cover of a magazine or walking a runway? Sadly, I think this is something all women can say they struggle with. My friends comment did bother me, but not for the reasons you think. Her comment bothered me, because I simply realised I didn’t agree with it. This is the same friend who watches Victoria Secret fashion shows and feels sorry for herself. This is the same girl who says she wishes she looked like Gisele Bundchen. When she made this comment, I realised something powerful. I think I’m beautiful. I don’t think I’m beautiful for a petite woman, or for a multi racial woman, or for a whatever kind of woman… I just think I’m pretty much beautiful, and I refuse at this point in my life to apologise for it. Am I allowed to say it? Can I just say that I don’t wish I looked like Gisele? Or had her body, or her long legs or whatever it is people say about her? I just don’t. I don’t want to look like a Victoria Secret model, they are gorgeous but I don’t think I’m any less gorgeous, and I’m done agreeing with women who put themselves down because somehow society has taught us that this is the way to be.
I remember the first time I ever even thought about beauty. You see, I grew up in a house where my mother was by far the most beautiful (and still is) the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She is the brown eyed version of Marion Cotillard, and absolutely stunning in every way. However, she never taught us to talk about physical beauty, or to value it as much as other women perhaps have taught their daughters; and for this, I am eternally grateful. My mother complimented me on my wisdom, on my learning and study habits, on my creativity, and my adventurous spirit. Growing up I never saw my mom fussing over her looks very much, or talking about things she didn’t like about herself, or even saying she wished she looked like anyone else. She was never obsessed with clothes or jewelery, and she still isn’t. She is a true artist, a painter, a sculptor, a poet… she concentrated on those things, and I don’t think she ever really has noticed how stunning she is. When I was about eight years old, I went to some sort of church meeting where they had all the kids playing in a room. My mom had managed to french braid my hair, and I was feeling particularly special, so I walked up to a mirror, looked at my braids, and said: “I am beautiful, I look so pretty!” when I said this, every other little girl in the room laughed. They came up to me like vicious little demons, surrounding me left and right and began to mock me. “Who told you, you were beautiful? You’re not beautiful, not even a little bit” they said. I felt something sink in my stomach, because up until that point, I hadn’t given much thought to being beautiful, or to not being beautiful. But when they explained that they had never liked me because I wasn’t beautiful, I began to understand things in a different way.
During my teenage years I never, not once thought I was beautiful. I learned that I had everything going against me to be considered beautiful, I thought myself to be an ugly duckling and I never was. Apparently I was the wrong height, the wrong weight, the wrong built, the wrong colour, I had the wrong hair type, I was just wrong, I was not made beautiful. That’s what I understood from every other insecure and vicious teenage girl around me. That’s what I understood from the women at my church who even considered themselves unattractive. That’s what I understood from cousins and close friends who complimented me on my talents, and my style but never looked at me and said I was beautiful. I realised that even though I always told my best friends that they were gorgeous, they would never tell me the same in return. I realised that when I felt confident or when I dressed up, I received hateful comments, and evil glares. I believed that it was because I was fooling myself into thinking I was beautiful when I wasn’t. But as I’ve grown in many ways, I’ve come to terms with something very important: you have to love yourself, all of yourself. I realised that I am naturally confident, I don’t feel envious of people, I don’t compete with people. I can look at someone who is maybe tall and super slender and think: “wow she’s gorgeous!” without thinking: “Ugh! Why don’t I look like that? I hate her!”I don’t hate another woman for having looks that I don’t have. I just don’t. I like that I’m short. I’m 160cm, I like that height, I wear high heels and I feel giant, I don’t, and I feel normal, I’m completely okay with it. I’m petite, and I may struggle to find my size at many stores, but I don’t care, I’m happy being small. I don’t envy girls with super long legs and bodies, they are beautiful, but they are not me. I am never going to look like that.
Perhaps it was the beaches of Spain that have taught me to love myself more dearly, as I have enountered a plethora of beautiful women of all shapes and sizes bathing topless at the beach, simply enjoying themselves. I come from a society that feeds you what you should look like, what your body should be like, what even your most personal aspects should look like. The only other bodies we see are photoshopped, fixed, airbrushed and enhanced. But I walk around these beaches and I see that no one fits that stereotype, I see that this stereotype is nothing but a ghost, an artificial woman which we all hate and envy. The beaches of Spain show me mothers with their daughters playing on the beach with nothing but a bikini bottom on and showing the world that they are happy in their own skin, but most importantly teaching their daughters the same thing. I believe that having a healthy relationship with your body and what it looks like is important to loving who you are and will be for the rest of your life. I think I became accustomed to hiding the fact that I was beautiful, I was accustomed to having to be “humble” and by humble that meant I had to say I wasn’t beautiful. But rather, that I was just some dorky girl, who was “okay” looking but not stunning, because I didn’t fit the stereotype. I was taught by my peers to complain about my looks, to look at other women and think I wasn’t good enough, and somehow I got sick of it. Those girls hated me because I was confident and they weren’t. Those girls hated me because I was beautiful and instead of them feeling like they could be beautiful as well, they decided to hate me for their inability to love themselves.
Are there things about my body and my image that I don’t love? Sure. There always will be… but see, there always will be things about my personality that I don’t love either. For instance, I worry a lot, I worry too much. I overthink absolutely everything, and to be honest, I sometimes even avoid making plans just to stay home overthinking.Those are aspects of my personality that I don’t like at all. But to sit here and lose confidence over who I am, and end up hating myself based on the aspects of my personality I dislike, is a great exaggeration. I have become unapologetic about my beauty, in every sense of the word. I like who I am, and I work hard to keep my body healthy and somewhat fit (I said somewhat), I don’t slack on taking care of myself because I like to look in the mirror and feel proud of the results, I like to feel happy with my reflection. But I’m never going to be happy with what I see if what I’m trying to see is the reflection in someone elses’ mirror. I think I’m beautiful, and I don’t just think I’m beautiful in “my way” I think I’m beautiful all around. I think I’m absolutely stunning and gorgeous, and I look good in everything I try on. Pretty much every colour suits me, I have a nice shape, great legs, I have a lovely and interesting hair colour, my eyes are impressive, I don’t look at any celebrity, model, actress, and think: “I wish I looked like her, or had her…” I don’t wish any of that, if there’s something I don’t like I can work on it, but I have no desire to be someone else. I’m not going to reduce myself around women who feel bad about themselves, I am also no longer going to complain about my looks because you are complaining about yours. I am no longer going to apologise for being beautiful, and for thinking that I am.
I hope all of you beauties out there learn to do the same.