“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief she is beautiful.”
I have always felt incredibly under pressure to conform to the global standards of beauty. In fact, I have spent my entire life comparing myself to that tall, skinny, gorgeous girl staring at me from every magazine cover.
For many years, I’ve aspired to look just like her, going through many diets and drastic hair and makeup changes, adjusting myself to the trend of the moment, in the attempt to feel more attractive. More like her.
Still in my teens, I participated in a local model casting, only to hear that they’d be happy to take me into account, if I lost weight. From my distorted perspective, it sounded like an encouragement, so I pushed myself even harder.
Now, in my early thirties, I’m officially sick and tired of struggling with the endless comparisons to this imaginary idea of perfection, of trying to control my body and mould it to the unrealistic standards I had forged.
I’ve decided to find another way, to create a new, more sustainable definition of beauty. A definition that is inclusive and appreciative, not depriving and unforgiving.
I started observing women around me, noticing the traits that capture my attention, that I admire and that draw me to them. Slowly, I’ve learned to see things differently and realise that there’s no such thing as perfection.
We are neither perfect, nor imperfect. True beauty does not come from changing what’s on the outside, but from accepting the results of our efforts as the best that we can do. It means acknowledging and embracing that we are always a work in progress.
To conclude, here are 5 of the most important beauty secrets I’ve learned so far.
1. Self-acceptance. Recognising our strengths and weaknesses and allowing ourselves to be that person, both inside and out.
2. Self-care. Giving ourselves the time, space and attention we need to feel our best. No pressure, no expectations, no judgement.
3. Self-respect. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill that stems from knowing and understanding our limits, values and feelings.
4. Self-efficacy. A form of personal empowerment, it gives us a sense of certainty in our ability to bring about a favourable outcome.
5. Self-confidence. Competence leads to confidence and gives us purpose, so we worry less about what we look like and focus on what we love.
After all, beauty is just a part of our life, not what defines us.