What do I see when I look in the mirror?
Well, quite frankly, it depends on what’s happening in my life the day that you ask me. Some days I see beauty. Other days I see all the flaws that make me less than. Less than beautiful, less than perfect, less than…everything.
Perhaps the biggest battle for the women of our time is what she sees when she looks in the mirror. When Brown University conducted a study among normal-weight college students, just under 75% of the women replied that they thought about their weight and appearance “all the time” or “frequently.” Interestingly, 46% of the men answered in kind.
Body image has taken center stage today, with perfect, airbrushed men and women adorning billboards and magazine covers, movies and tv shows, inadvertently daring us to be as perfect and wonderful as they are. And it’s taking a toll on how we view – and accept – our bodies. Though men are clearly not immune to the effects of these perfect body images, women seem to be taking the body image burden on with a more ferocious frequency.
But here’s the kicker: the more one focuses on their flaws, the further away from self acceptance they become. Apparently familiarity isn’t the only thing that breeds contempt: obsession does too. The more one obsesses over a particular part of themselves that they dislike, the more they dislike it.
So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do?
Awareness and acceptance is the first step to change. And I think where acceptance is concerned, most of us women have a little touch of body dysmorphia. Let’s first acknowledge that. I remember the last time I left my house without a stitch of make-up on and someone gave me a compliment. I thought they were crazy and wrote off their compliment, not believing it, because how could they think I was beautiful when I didn’t have time to cover up my flaws with a little mascara and eye liner?
Ladies, if you can relate to this then listen to me now: this behavior has got to stop! We need to learn to take the compliments we receive at face value, be grateful for them, say thank you, and move along with a smile on our face and warmth in our heart.
Because the truth is – and always has been – that it’s not about what we look like, how big our thighs are, how round our noses are, or how well plucked our eyebrows are. Those things are fleeting. They don’t last.
Beauty – real beauty – is more than skin deep. Beauty is intelligence. Beauty is grace. Beauty is about how we feel on the inside. It’s about how we feel about ourselves when we look in the mirror. Fierce and powerful because we know how intelligent and kind we are? Or self deprecating and angry because no matter how hard we try, we can’t fix the slight bump on our nose?
We need to stop trying to fix our flaws and understand that our flaws are the things that make us beautiful. Our flaws are the things that make us extraordinary. In the achievement of the perfect face, the perfect body, the perfect everything, and the closer we get to perfection, the more ordinary we become.
And who wants that?
As a model and actress, it’s tough for me to shut out the sounds of my inner self critic, daring me to fix my flaws and get to the perfect I think I’m supposed to be. But every day, I fight for myself, and rather than seeing something I don’t like, when I look in the mirror, I see me. All of me. A beautiful mother who loves her children and her whole life. Someone who smiles to the fullest each and every day. Because God gave me everything I need to be beautiful, flaws and all.
So the next time you look in the mirror, who will you see?