When I became the mother of Noemi, some things changed: my motivations and the beauty standards I was trying to achieve. I long for my daughter to love and accept herself the way she is. But how can I teach her something I cannot do for myself? So, I have started a journey of loving myself so that my daughter would have a model of self-love at home. She won’t find it anywhere else. I have learned to love myself the way I am - short, dark hair, dark eyes (proud of them, lol), voluptuous tending to robust and with chubby ankles, but with the heart of a mom willing to go to the moon and back for my two little people. I also stopped pursuing unrealistic beauty standards, because I realized there is no such thing as ideal beauty.
Factors that affect women’s perception of beauty
Culture and time. Who can say if a woman is beautiful or not? Perceptions of beauty vary by culture, but they also have changed throughout history. They are not only inconsistent within the same culture, but unrealistic and out of reach for the average woman. Let’s look at some examples. In the 1920’s the ideal woman had a flat chest and a boyish figure. Hourglass figures and large breasts were the celebrated body in the 30’s. In the 80’s, tall and svelte, but curvy was the standard. In the 90’s, the ideal body was extremely thin. Who could have kept up with these standards changing from decade to decade?
Each culture has their owns standards too. Standard Hispanic features include voluptuous bodies, olive skin and dark hair. The Asian definition of beauty includes dark hair, pale skin, and a slender build. The standards in North America point to full lips, high cheekbones, tanned skin, and voluminous, wavy hair.
There are no right or wrong answers when you ask yourself if you are beautiful.
The power of sizing. Do you have a body that just does not conform to the regular clothing sizing system? Have you blamed yourself because there is no size that fits you properly? Have you wonder what is the problem with “standardized” sizes? In one brand a size 4 fits you, but in another one you go up to a size 8. This is not only frustrating, but it also affects our self-image. The most common scenario is that it is really hard to find a brand or store that carries a size that fits your curvy, petite or large body. That makes you feel “ugly” or (probably a better description of the feeling) that you just don’t belong; that there is something wrong with you. Nothing could be more false. The concept of a universal or standardized sizing system doesn’t work because there is not a “standard” body type. A single set of metrics can make it easier for a small group of women to buy, but not for the majority, who don’t fit that set of metrics. Size is just an arbitrary number, not a measure of your worth. Remember you are not meant to fit in clothes, rather, clothes are meant to fit you.
We need to understand that we have value with or without the beauty standards we’re surrounded by, or the number printed on a clothing tag that at the end of the day we just end up cutting off. The problem is not the cultural standard, but our fixation on meeting it and what it causes when we can’t.
A better approach to embrace our bodies
Each body has a story to tell. The combination of genetic factors, experiences and even age, writes a story that makes you unique. We - the creators of this blog - are from Colombia, where the average female height is 5’2”. Our bodies scream “petite.” Your body says you are a mom: a belly, brown spots on your face, C-section scars and even the inability to sneeze or jump with freedom from the risk of a little bit of pee coming out (I know, this is not external, but I can see it when it happens, so it counts, lol). With different signs, our bodies “whisper” that we are on our 30’s; “shout” we are in our 40’s; “cry” out the 50’s; and so on.
That is just the aesthetics. However, the way you embrace your appearance shows how you embrace your life, your experiences, and your story. In order to love the woman your body is talking about, that perfectly imperfect woman with all the brokenness you might be carrying, you need to start by accepting and understanding that neither your story nor your body is like any other.
What can we do?
My body tells, among many other stories, that I broke my front teeth in a bike fall when I was 12. I attended middle school with a half-broken-front tooth for several months because we couldn’t afford to fix it. You cannot image the bullying I suffered from others and from myself. Although I have fixed it many times with different dentists trying to make it look its best, my front right tooth will always look a little different from the rest of my teeth. I was defined by that for years. I could not laugh freely and I am a hearty laugher. I hated myself because of it. I allowed it to negatively impact not only my self-esteem but also my self-expression until I got mad at it and decided it needed to change.
A list of things I did/still do that can help:
- Think about your motives. That’s the key of succeeding in everything you do. Your intention can’t be to please others.
- This is daily work. Remind yourself who you are.
- Take a break from social media. Do not let it dictate how you should look. Be very selective of the accounts you follow.
- Accept the stage of life you are in.
- A little make up helps and makes feel better.
- Focus on the parts of your body you love. Find the clothes that highlight those parts and conceal the parts you want to (read our blog about it here).
- Pray and believe you were made by the Creator of the Universe and YOU ARE HIS DAUGHTER. There is nothing He cannot help you with.
We’d love to read your story and pray for you. If you relate to our stories and want to share yours, please comment bellow or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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