One of the most ridiculous phrases I’ve ever heard is:
Does anyone actually believe that?
I could tell myself day in and day out that the things others say don’t affect me, but that just isn’t true. People’s words can have the power to discount, demean and devalue you. Unfortunately, how we see ourselves can depend heavily on the opinions of others.
Growing up, I had a complex about how I looked. My nose was long, my shoulders too large, and my feet should have been attached to the body of a gigantic monster. In high school, I had braces and a horrible perm. Yes. A perm. I was an awkward child and I never felt confident in my body. My imperfections took me to a new discovery. I couldn’t control my nose, my shoulders or my feet but maybe I would feel better about myself if I was thinner. That was something I knew I could control. I noticed that when I was dancing and performing on stage I began to get thinner. I started to recieve a lot of attention for it. People constantly commented on how skinny I was and I loved it. Before long, I developed a fear of eating and my obsession with being skinny developed into an eating disorder. Being skinny made me feel prettier and more accepted. As a kid, it’s hard to find your own place in the world and being thin instilled a sense of confidence in me. It almost became a competition. For example, if I was at a pizza party, I wouldn’t eat the pizza. Choosing to not eat the pizza made me feel like I somehow was winning; like I was better for not doing it. How unfortunate. Why do we do these things to ourselves? I was lucky enough to grow out of this when I found the love for a gym in college. Working out became a new, healthy endeavour that gave me the right kind of confidence and strength.
“You are beautiful.” your perception changes.
“I am?” you think?
Then you proceed to gaze at yourself in the mirror and say:
“Wow, I guess I am.”
On the other side, someone says:
“Wow, you look tired today.”
You start second guessing everything. You think “What did I eat last night? Maybe I look puffy. Do I need more makeup?” It’s ridiculous! We’re constantly letting ourselves, social media, and all of the world around us tell us what we’re supposed to look like.
Last fall, I went to my best friend’s apartment to hang out and drink some wine. It was a hard time in both of our lives. We were going through a lot personally and our outlook on life and ourselves was less than positive. These friendship meetings proved to be good for us both. As I walked around his apartment that night, I saw colorful Post-Its randomly placed throughout each room. One on his pillow that said “You are doing great.” One on his closet door that read, “Keep your head up.” And one by the light switch, “You are a good person”. At first, I thought this was a little cheesy and kind of silly. Throughout the evening I found myself seeing more of these post-its. On the coffee maker, “You are strong”. One on the couch, “Keep going.” The more I waltzed through the apartment throughout the evening, I found myself starting to believe what these Post-Its were telling me. I AM strong. I AM doing great. Finally, I found the one that hit home. Stuck to the bathroom mirror, the words “You are beautiful.” Such simple words, but words that are often so hard for me to believe. I felt like these words of encouragement were little notes from a secret friend. Words that other people think about me, but I don’t always think about myself.
Sticks hurt. Stones hurt. And words definitely hurt. We may never get rid of the body dysmorphia that we create for ourselves, but we own the power to give ourselves an extra boost of confidence and strength that we need. And don’t we deserve to treat ourselves a little more kindly?
So, here it is folks. The Post-It Challenge. Grab a sharpie, grab some Post-Its and let’s get to work. I challenge you to do this for yourself or maybe even for someone you love. On each Post-It, write a phrase or word of encouragement. Post them EVERYWHERE. On walls, in purses, wallets, notebooks, mirrors, utensils, everything! See how it changes your outlook. Beauty is more than how others perceive you.
Beauty is ____.
Go ahead. Fill in the blank.
Stay Beautiful. Stay Brave.