I woke up one morning and stared in the mirror, picking myself apart. My weight gain, chubby cheeks, and the stretch marks on my hips. I wish I could tell you I immediately saw my beauty, but I didn’t. I saw a version of myself that society said didn’t measure up.
I found myself daydreaming and reflecting positively on the skinner and “more beautiful” version of me that I am trying to measure up to. Let’s call her “Supermodel Me.” I felt so frustrated and anxious, attempting to keep up with the beauty standards, that I decided to write a letter to that supermodel version of myself. I needed to be honest with her—with me—for once.
Dear “Supermodel Me”,
First off, let me tell you how hard I am working to measure up to you. It’s pretty tough. You set the standard I am striving for. Your slim body, flawless skin, and gorgeous face are truly something to behold. With a body like yours, of course you receive plenty of attention and praise from all who meet you. Your fashion is impeccable, and you’re so desirable. You are everything I am not. Who wouldn’t love you?
Some days, I desperately want to be you. I want to be skinnier—want the attention, to be desired like you… But there is one problem: I can’t be. No matter how much I run, eat right, or dress well, I won’t be you. And much as I want that attention, I want my sanity more. Every day I have a choice: belittle myself or love myself.
It seems almost sad that I compare myself to imaginary you, Supermodel Me, but the truth is every day in the media someone is telling us what we should look like or dress like. I compare myself to you and all your “supermodel’ friends that guys seem to swoon over. I take one good look at myself and wonder if my character, personality, and passions are enough. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes I’d doubt if anyone is looking.
Supermodel Me, this talk is long overdue. Here’s the thing: I am tired. I am tired of chasing after you and hiding in your shadow. My pursuit of your perfection leaves me settling time and time again. I trade my emotional stability to play a game I will never win. It’s too risky, and tiring.
And I would be remiss if I thought it was just girls playing this game because, along the way, I have seen guys join in too. They’re wondering if they are tall enough, wise enough, make enough money—if they’re handsome enough or desirable. Self-esteem is something many of us struggle with, but the more we talk about it, the less power it has over us. The more we address unrealistic beauty standards, the less we’ll feel tied to them. Sure, I may slip up and compare myself to others every now and then, but deep down inside, I will hang on to the truth that I am enough.
Supermodel Me, this is hard to write for the world to see, but it’s time I called you out. I have some big dreams and living in your shadow won’t get me any closer to my desired destination. I want to laugh and eat with my family on Thanksgiving without focusing on how much weight I’ll gain. When someone says I am beautiful, I want to believe them—365 days a year—instead of dismissing the words spoken over me. Life is short and being present as my full self in each moment is the best form of resistance I can muster.
Sis, what version of yourself do you need to let go of? How do you affirm your beauty daily and silence the negative self-talk?
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