Monday, October 5, 2009

Are You Strong Enough to Be Yourself?

At some point in your life, you've probably all had someone tell you, "It's not what you wear; it's how you wear it." And if you're like me, you probably all rolled your eyes and thought, "Dear well-meaning but clueless friend/family member/motivational speaker: If that works for you, great; and if you weren't skinnier/taller/prettier than I am, I might believe that it could possibly apply to me. Nice try though."
Well, guess what: That old cliche is true. What you wear isn't important; you've all seen girls wearing jeans and t-shirts and still looking adorable, right? And you probably thought, "If I was skinnier, I could just wear jeans and a t-shirt and look that cute too." Or something like that. But here's the thing--it's not being a certain size that will make you look good, regardless of whether you're hoping to gain or lose weight. It's how you think of yourself.
Most of our society's problems stem from the fact that people have a skewed perception of themselves. Our culture places a ridiculous amount of significance on how you look, which is totally backward because your appearance is absolutely, positively the single least important thing about you. We use our looks to determine our self-worth, but if we were only able to appreciate ourselves for what we really are, we would become far more attractive. It really isn't what you're wearing that counts--it's how you feel about yourself, and that changes how you look.
I hope you're not shaking your head in disbelief right now. I know it's hard to believe that something as simple as your thoughts could actually have an effect on your physical appearance, but I promise you it's true, and you can prove it to yourself. Try, for one entire month, thinking nothing but positive thoughts about yourself. If you start to criticize yourself, stop. Literally stop yourself in the middle of the thought, and replace it with something good about yourself. Make lists of things that are fantastic about you and put them in your journal. Write positive notes on your mirror in dry erase marker. Stand in front of that mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say "I love you. You're awesome. You have a fantastic personality, and people are lucky to know you." Keep up a constant chant in your head saying, "I love my life. I love myself, and everyone I meet loves me too. I deserve the best in everything I do. I am beautiful and wonderful and charming and lovely, and my life is great." Use whatever words you want, but really honestly do it, and I promise you will see a difference.
You shouldn't want to be a Barbie just because that's what society decided you should be. Who cares what society thinks anyway? Pardon my reversion to third grade, but "society" is retarded. You should care what you think. You should want to be healthy, which is not the same as being skinny (in case you weren't aware). If you focus on being healthy instead of being a certain size, if you can just be happy with being YOU, then you'll be drop-dead gorgeous no matter what that darn scale says. It takes strength to stop caring what other people think, but I know you can do it. Throw the scale out the window, I say--just try not to brain any innocent bystanders in your enthusiasm.


Krilafis said...

Nice thought girls, but what about all those skinny and awkward girls that still struggle with self image problems. As you say, skinny does not equal beauty, but being big does not only equal a bad self image. Many times, I feel its small girls that feel this unknown powerful urge to stay thin to make up for funny ears or a nose too round or knees that knock. I suppose the suggestions listed in your post are the same though. But it is nice to give a shout out to the girls who don't get to complain with their group of girl friends because they are the skinny ones when they still feel just as oddly shaped and disappointing as the rest of them.

You do have a fantastic personality and being happy is an outstandingly grand way to influence others to believe the same thing. Laughing a lot, being kind, finding ways to connect with other people besides having to be eye catchingly beautiful. Those things work for you too.

I suppose it is nice to be the girl who people look at and cant stop staring at the moment they walk into a room, but I wouldn't know. I have never been there. But you know what, people do stop and stare when you are laughing so hard you have to stop yourself from peeing a little. People do look at you wondering how she can be so happy when she stands around at a party with her besties talking about movies and music and their favorite books. It makes them look interesting regardless of how they look. And that my friend, is something to brag about.

Being interesting.
So you go girl, be interesting.

Lin said...

Don't worry, Krissie, we know that every girl goes through the same thing, skinny or not. The thing is, we can only speak from our own personal experience (which is why we started this - to get more from other people's experiences and to learn more about each other as women). So, all you skinny girls...fill in the blanks. Maybe you were thinking, "Dear well-meaning but clueless friend/family member/motivational speaker: If that works for you, great; and if you weren't curvy/shorter/prettier than I am, I might believe that it could possibly apply to me. Nice try though."

I've had plenty of friends who are taller and skinnier than me share their insecurities about those things (including you, Krissie)...I know it's just as hard for 5'10" you to find jeans that fit comfortably as it is for 5'3" me. :) But that's what makes us beautiful...and interesting, as you pointed out.

I think Miri's point here is that no matter who you are or what you look like, we have all had those moments of self doubt and we have all felt bad about our looks - and it's time to try and stop those thoughts or at least limit them.

Use things like the things you mentioned to remind yourself that it doesn't matter that your hair is acting up or that you don't like the way you look in your clothes are beautiful and happy and awesome and if you see that, others will too.

Miri said...

It isn't any different for skinny girls; the point is that your appearance isn't what's important, and that doesn't change depending on how much you weigh. It's the same issue for everyone, regardless of size--stop focusing on what you look like, and learn to just be YOU.

Krilafis said...

I didn't think it was any different. I just feel that if you want to appeal to a larger (no pun intended) bracket of women, than a new perspective, such as the skinner side of things, needs to be addressed as well. Which, has been done. Awesome.

On to another point. The tokens to remind yourself to just be you are thought out and they work, sometimes. Occasionally, they just don't seem enough to remind you on those really cruddy days what you need to hear. Notes are nice, but what really needs to happen is we, each of us, need to redefine what we think Beautiful is. You don't go into a bathroom and stick on a note what you are REALLY thinking. Hey self, the note says, what a horrible zit you have lurking on your chin! And don't you remember that you are not, nor are you ever going to be a curvy size 2. Since there is no such thing. You post on a note something positive something uplifting while continuously believing that something that isn't you, is beautiful.

What does it take to make yourself rethink what your subconscious is always trying to tell you? How do you make yourself believe and actually understand the truth that what you are, all the time, make up or no, are beautiful.

How do you change your inner mantra on beauty?

Krilafis said...

I have a few ideas, but I want to hear what someone else thinks.

P.S. I dig your blog girls. Thanks for writing. It gives me something to think about all day. Especially since I work in a Elementary school full of women, and insecure girls.

Lin said...

Of course you will still have those thoughts. I actually have done what Miri is suggesting in the past - all through college in fact - and I think I was fairly successful in changing the way I actually felt about myself.

Think of it in terms of things that have absolutely nothing to do with self-worth. Like a chore or something new you are trying to turn into a habit. It's not fun and it's not easy to implement doing those things every day. At first it feels like a burden and you just have to push through and keep going until it starts to become something you look forward to or enjoy doing.

It's really just about the power of positive thinking. Even if the thought is, "well, at least I only have one hideous zit today."

Julie said...

I have a friend who just posted this on facebook. "(her name) thinks she is ugly" This breaks my heart. Beauty is such a complex emotion. One way to start is positive thinking. Thanks for this article.

Miri said...

What it takes to change your subconscious beliefs is a decision to try and change them. The challenge in this post isn't meant to be a one-time fix, after which you'll never have problems again. But it's the first step, and without taking a first step you won't get anywhere. Our thoughts are habits just as much as anything else is. It's like mental inertia: You will continue to think the way you always have, unless something happens to change it.
No, you don't write a note on your mirror about every zit that you have, because the zit isn't the thing you're supposed to be focusing on. The zit is a negative thing, and you are trying to focus on positive things. What you DO write is that you are beautiful regardless of whatever stupid zit you might have. The point of the notes is to write down the things that you want to believe about yourself, the good things that you want to focus on, and that is what you teach yourself to believe. (This might be harder if you have roommates, so if it's awkward you may want to try a hand mirror that you keep on your nightstand or something. You'll have to adapt the plan to work for you.)
Also, the point is not to believe yourself into being a curvy size two. The point is to STOP WISHING you were a curvy size two, and be happy with being what you are. You won't solve anything by trying to make yourself something you're not. You will only make progress by learning to accept who you ARE.

Lis said...

I think people put too much into how much they weigh verses how they feel. Like you said, you should try to be healthy. A taller person can gain more weight without someone noticing as much, so I agree with chucking the scale out- I don't own one and never have. I base my health on how I feel, and what I know I've been eating (vegetables vs fries) and how much I've been exercising. I had a teacher who ran in marathons and still had a pot belly, and I've heard of other people like that, their body is a certain way no matter how they exercise and eat. Putting a genuine smile on your face will make you prettier than any makeup.

Lis said...

That last sentence doesn't really match the rest, but it's true. Also, Miri- I love what you said about not hitting people with the scale you just chucked out the window!

Lauralynn and Aaron said...

Miri, Thanks for sharing your feelings on this subject. I know that it has been really hard for me sometimes to accept me for who am I, and not trying to live up the perfection that I think other people have. I spent the day reading this blog and this is a very amazing thing you all are doing here. It was exactly what I needed today. Keep up the good work.