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Beauty is not skin deep

| Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The beauty industry has definitely been shaken up in recent years, particularly as the beauty standards have increasingly shifted. Nowadays, we see more people of color being represented in ads and on the runway. Clothing lines claim to be more inclusive. But at the same time, social media and influencers have not been as forgiving, and sadly I, along with millions of girls around the world, have felt the repercussions of that. We push ourselves to spend long and painful hours at the gym, change our hair, try fad diet after fad diet etc. We invest so much in an attempt to look more like “them.” The investment is not just monetary. The investment costs us time, energy, confidence and even sanity.

This is something I truly struggled with when I first got to Notre Dame. Many international students thought I had an unfair advantage when it came to fitting in. I looked white. I could pass for an American. But this is definitely not how I felt. Looking around me, all I could notice was how different I was from the other girls. To be honest, for the first few weeks everybody looked exactly the same to me. I had trouble distinguishing faces. Almost every girl around me was a skinny athletic white blonde of average height.

And the worst part was that I wasn’t any of that. My insecurities bubbled up as I found myself hating parts of me I had never thought twice about before. I started hating my broad shoulders. At times I thought I wasn’t tall enough. Other times I was too big. I imagined myself with lighter eyes and lighter hair. Some days I was too curvy and wished I could flatten my curves. On other days, I was as flat as a board. I wanted to erase my beauty marks. Wouldn’t all these changes make me more attractive?

As time went by, it became increasingly difficult to not focus on the imperfections. You see, when the little voice in your head calls out all the imperfections, you can’t help but assume that everyone else sees them too.

I’m not going to pretend I have uncovered the formula to make all insecurities disappear, nor will I pretend that I feel the most comfortable in my skin. Trust me, I am far from that, but I do want to get there at some point. Hopefully soon because this state I’m stuck in is quite vulnerable and unforgiving.

The next time you feel like your imperfections are just staring back at you making you feel unattractive or worthless, please remember this:

1.Don’t try to overcompensate

Please don’t convince yourself that you have to overcompensate for feeling unattractive. No matter what the voice in your head is telling you, you are enough. You do not need to exercise your muscles to exhaustion. You do not need to starve yourself. You do not need to keep buying more concealer or more hair dye. Actually, if it makes you happy then yes, absolutely change your hair or buy some fun makeup to try out. But please don’t turn this into an obligation; something you have to do to feel prettier or fit in better.

2. Remember that beauty is not skin deep.

There is absolutely no rule that says you have to love how you look every minute of every day. I know it may impact your mood or even make you feel like you’re not enough. But guess what? The way you look has zero impact on what you are capable of creating and giving to people. Take a minute to remind yourself of everything you truly are. You will be remembered for much more than how you look. There is more to you than the eye can see. The way you love your people, the art you create, the lives you touch in big and small ways — this will be your legacy.

3. Unlearn the social patterns and change your perspective.

Despite what the airbrushed, polished media has tried to ingrain in us, no physical characteristic is synonymous with beauty. Being thin, light-skinned or having a particular type of face or hair does not equate to attractiveness. Those are not valid parameters to gauge beauty by. These patterns have all contributed to building all the filters in your mind that color you unattractive. Trying to break the patterns is an active exercise that you need to keep practicing over and over and over again, especially on the bad days.

I know the patterns can be thought to break. On bad days, it is easy to spiral down a rabbit hole of painful thoughts. It can be hard to drown the voice that constantly picks at your imperfections. Remember that the voice is not going to silence itself. You have to be proactive about silencing it. It won’t be easy, but I believe we can all get there. So, I am going to ask this one thing: turn up your favorite song and look at yourself in the mirror. Now, for every imperfection you think of, I want you to point out a thing you love about yourself. Keep doing it until one day the imperfections drown in the power of your strengths and self love.

 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Krista Lourdes Akiki

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