Release Your Inner Beauty!
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” This is a line out of a fairy tale that we’ve heard a thousand times before, but it’s also a thought that many of us have in the back of our mind every single day. We look at each minute detail of ourselves in the mirror and judge, criticise and compare ourselves to everybody we know. Am I too tall? I wish I had straight hair. Oh no there’s another zit! Why can’t I look more like Taylor Swift? My ankles are too fat. My arms are too thin. My skin is too pale. My feet are too big. And so it goes on.
From the time that we are little kids, we are exposed to the idea that outer beauty is important above all else. We hear fairy tales about how the most beautiful girls in the village meet and marry handsome princes, become princesses and live happily ever after. We play with Barbie dolls with beautiful flowing hair, long skinny legs and tiny wastes. We are bombarded with retouched photos, adverts, movies and music videos featuring the most gorgeous people. All of these messages have sadly created a fake belief of how we are meant to look, leaving many of us with a low self-image, believing that we are not pretty enough, thin enough or special enough.
What is self-image?
Self-image is how you feel about your size, shape and looks. A poor self-image is when you don’t see your body as it is and you are overly critical of yourself. A healthy self-image is when you see yourself realistically. You recognise that you are not perfect but celebrate and appreciate your body as it is and feel proud of who you are.
Teens are incredibly hard on themselves and are hypercritical of their bodies and looks. During puberty our bodies go through so many changes that nothing seems normal anymore. This is a time when we become highly self-conscious and can easily develop a poor self-image. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with the way we look, we need to learn to celebrate our good features and develop our inner shine. Inner beauty always finds a way to radiate out. The best way to create a healthy self-image is to find what makes you unique and let it shine!
6 Facts about self-image that may shock you
- A girl feels best about herself at around age nine. Thereafter, her self-image starts to take a knock.
- The more reality TV teens watch, the more important outer beauty becomes to them.
- 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies.
- 95% of people with eating disorders are between 12 and 25 years old.
- Eating disorders usually start in the teen years but can be triggered as early as eight years old.
- Many guys also battle with self-image problems.
How to tell if you have a poor self-image
It’s pretty normal for us to compare ourselves to others, but how can you tell if you have a poor self-image or if you’re just having a bad hair day? Here are some signs that you may be suffering from self-image issues:
- If you always compare yourself to others.
- If you have feelings of self-hatred because of the way you look.
- If you obsess about food. You think about it all the time and worry about what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat.
- If you have negative thoughts about food or feel guilty whenever you eat.
- If you constantly count the calories in everything you eat.
- If you weigh yourself repeatedly throughout the day.
- If you constantly have thoughts of changing your body with plastic surgery.
Anorexia and bulimia
Low self-image makes us feel unworthy and depressed and can lead to really serious problems such as anorexia and bulimia. When you are desperate these may seem like good solutions in the short term, but they have dreadfully severe long-term consequences. Anorexia and bulimia take a huge toll on the body and can even lead to death. What’s worse is that the damage can set in long before the person starts to look ‘too thin’. Eating disorders weaken the bones, affect the heart, weaken the immune system and can even leave you infertile and unable to have children. That’s a really high price to pay for a thin body!
The good news is if you are feeling down about the way you look or are suffering from an eating disorder, you can get help! Organisations such as Childline and SADAG are there to do just that and are just a phone call away.
Find your shine
There are also many little things you can do to feel better about yourself. You are the most powerful person in your life and you deserve the very best! You are talented, beautiful, full of potential, unique and wonderful! Now you just need to believe it!
If you battle with a low self-image, try these simple techniques to improve the way you see yourself:
- Keep a journal and every day write down one new thing that you like about yourself. It doesn’t need to be about how you look but can be a personality trait or something that you are good at.
- Every time somebody pays you a compliment, write it in your journal.
- Think of the one person who loves you the most in the world. Try to imagine the way they see you and write this down in your journal. If you can’t imagine, ask them to write down how they see you and put it in your journal.
- Write some positive messages on sticky notes (such as ‘You are beautiful!’, ‘Hey gorgeous!’, ‘Wow! Look at that sparkle!’) and stick them on your mirror. Read them to yourself every morning before you leave home.
- Surround yourself with people who build you up and make you feel good about yourself. Distance yourself from people who put you down and criticise you.
- Stay away from the complaint train – when everyone around you is complaining and putting themselves down, don’t be tempted to join in. Think of something positive to say to change the mood of the group.
- Stop the negative self-talk. When you realise that you are being overcritical of yourself, stop and think of something that you like about yourself instead.
Some things in life you just can’t change. You will never be able to make your feet smaller or make yourself taller. You can change how you think though. You can change your attitude. You can laugh more, you can be kind and you can look on the bright side of life. These are the things that will make you shine. True beauty starts with being your own kind of beautiful on the inside first. That sparkle will radiate from your soul and others will see you as the magnificent being that you are. So why not give it a try! Go ahead and
SHINE, BABY, SHINE!