Original photo taken and edited by Laura.
Are any of the above true for you? If so, ask yourself: Why don’t I like my _______? Could it be because a person told you so? If not, then who could have told you, besides yourself?
For as long as life has existed, there’s always been competition between species. Plants racing each other for sunlight, elk fighting for mates, humans struggling to make enough money, fit in, thrive, you name it. Many strive to conform, strive to thrive, but have material goals in mind. Beautiful body, full wallet, a booming social life. Today, many lingerie and modeling magazines advertise beauty with retouched images of thin women with unnatural curvature and features. Musicians who are looked up to will sing of sex, drugs, and money. TV shows geared toward younger kids, specifically teenagers, feature young adults wearing adult clothing and a lot of makeup. Movies and books are released frequently which feature love stories of women finding Prince Charming and being swept away onto the back of a horse and riding into the sunset (same formula, insert your own characters and scene). It’s all presented to us in mass quantities every day in several forms. How much of an impact could this have on us, even if we supposedly “don’t pay attention to it”? Ask yourself this question as you observe your reflection in the mirror.
Appreciating our bodies for what they have developed into, appreciating every aspect of who we are is crucial to being happy. What doesn’t benefit you, leave it behind. Someone could tell us we’re beautiful a thousand times, but it won’t count until we believe it ourselves. We cannot rely on another person to validate any aspects of our own heart – it lies within us, not outside us; not them.
Did you know, people who are happy and appreciate themselves are healthier than those who don’t? (1 source) Stress is something that causes our heart to race, our skin to sweat, our minds to panic, and our muscles to be tense. Constant stress can cause dormant illnesses to resurface, such as Shingles (a strain of the Herpes virus), and heart problems as well as digestive problems to occur. It also distracts the immune system by spending valued energy on the “flight” response. Happiness and relaxation allows the body to efficiently utilize energy which strengthens the immune system and lets you get a better night’s sleep. Your body produces white blood cells when you get enough sleep, which fight off bad bugs. Sleep is your “repair” time. Better mood -> more sleep -> better immune system and regeneration -> healthy body -> healthy mind -> better mood. Full circle!
How is it in our nature to instantly result to finding a flaw in such a beautiful creature, instead of counting all the wonderful qualities? Instead of looking at someone’s physical features and judging them like they’re in a superficial pageant, we could simply appreciate the diversity of life. What would life be, if nothing was different? We wouldn’t have anything at all – everyone’s view of beautiful and not is different, sometimes to drastic degrees. If everything was “perfect” like that one guy, or that one girl, like that one picture, like I want to be, the world as we know it would have no diversity. We would crave the different, the unique. So, let’s appreciate what we have – the spice of variety, the beauty and complexity of all of life. Moving past judgment, and settling solely with appreciation – gratitude. Life is not about what appears to us in the physical, it’s about what lies within it all.
Wake up every day and smile. You don’t even have to mean it. Simply smiling releases the “happy hormone” in your brain, and that’s a good start to your day. Take care of your precious body, it’s the only one you’ll have this lifetime. Love yourself. In loving yourself, you radiate positive energy to everyone around you, improving your friends’ moods, their friends’ moods, and their friends’ moods, eventually the neighborhood, the city, the country, the world. It’s exponential. Loving yourself does not mean gloating, but simply being grateful for your presence on Earth, for everything around you, who you were, who you are, and who you will be. Remember, you’re not alone. You’re one of 7.17 billion (and counting) beautiful individuals on planet Earth with your own story, your own appearance, your own body and free will. You have the power to change your life and the lives of others. Make the best of it!