"Step Away from the Mean Girls…and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks. Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others. This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world." Oprah Winfrey
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you think your nose is too big? Your cheeks too fat? Your hair too limp? Do you spend time criticizing your appearance and then apply makeup to try to hide your perceived flaws? Are you grateful for your looks? Or do you look in the mirror and wish that you looked differently?
Is it possible to be thankful for your looks and your body in today’s world? Everywhere we look - magazines, television, and on the internet - we face images of beautiful men and women. Too many times, we try to live up to these images and believe that we have failed if we don’t have the right clothes, have a perfect face or body. We look in the mirror and instead of seeing beauty, we focus on our flaws.
Inner Beauty Does Count
One of the reasons we are self-conscious about those things we see as flaws is because we worry what it says about us. We worry that others will judge us based on our flaws, for example, do wrinkles around your eyes or gray hair tell the world you are old and washed up? Do pimples tell others that you don’t wash your face? Think about what you see first when you look in the mirror. Is it a part of your body you like or dislike? If the answer is dislike, think about why. Is it because you are worried about how others will judge you?
Consider this, research shows that other people see you as 20 percent more attractive than you see yourself. That means if you look in the mirror and give your appearance a "5," other people would rate you as a "7." This is because when you look at your reflection you are rating yourself on your looks alone. But other people don’t see just your looks. They see how you carry yourself, how you move, how you speak, your smile, the light in your eyes, how you express yourself. In other words, they see your looks and your personality in one package. Inner beauty is worth something.
See the Whole
Your looks are yours and yours alone. Your big nose, pointy chin, big ears all are part of you. They are neither good nor bad - they just are. Accepting yourself means you accept that all these parts, put together, are you. I have previously read interviews with super-models. Some say they are terribly self-conscious about their looks, they think they aren’t pretty enough or don’t like their chin or nose or cheeks. But, when we look at these models we don’t analyze each part of their face or body, we see a beautiful face. When you meet someone, chances are they don’t analyze yours either. They don’t look at each individual part and rate it. Instead, they look at you as a whole person, including your bright smile, your shining eyes, your kindness. You are a whole person, and focusing on your flaws breaks you down to that single part. When you look in the mirror, stop focusing on little pieces of yourself and see yourself as the whole person you are. Accept any imperfections as part of who you are.
Be grateful? Yes, practicing gratefulness will add to your satisfaction with yourself and your life. Taking time each day to be thankful for what you have has been shown to make you happier, improve relationships, boost your immune system and help protect you from depression. It is good for your health and your well-being. If you find it difficult to be appreciative of your looks at first, start with something else. Start by be grateful of what you have and who is in your life. List three things each day you are grateful for. Commit to doing this for 30 days. By the end of this time, you should notice a difference in how you feel. You might notice that you stop comparing yourself to others as often. You might notice that appearance isn’t quite as important as it was before. You might simply be happier or more content with your life.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.