In a world of Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, Kate Upton bikini photos and yes, even my BFF Taylor Swift, it can be easy to feel insecure. We can look at these girls who seem to have it all: successful careers, beautiful bone structure and perfect bikini bodies and feel icky and inadequate. It isn’t just celebs that inspire these feelings of jealousy or self deprecation either, these negative emotions can come from bloggers, peers and even our best friends. Social media has made it easy to compare our own “regular” “flawed” lives to everyone else’s picture perfect instagram photos, hilarious tweets and obnoxiously flawless facebook updates. It’s easy to get so caught up comparing ourselves to everyone else that we forget to love ourselves.
As you may already know, this week is National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and while I have never struggled with an eating disorder it is a cause I feel passionately about. I discuss self image, beauty and self confidence fairly often on this site and it isn’t a coincidence! As someone who has struggled with insecurity I have had to work at learning to love myself.
Loving yourself goes beyond loving your appearance. While it is definitely an AMAZING feeling to reach a place where you can look in the mirror and feel confident (and at peace) with the girl in front of you, I think it is just as important to embrace loving yourself for other reasons. As women it is our nature to place our value in our appearances, however sad it is, it is the truth. A large part of that value comes from the number we see on the scale. While I know it is practically impossible to completely ignore our weight and how it makes us feel, I think it is important not to let something so trivial and superficial define our perceptions of ourselves.
Imagine your best friend. I just imagined mine, and let me tell you…she’s drop dead gorgeous. She’s thin, she has thick shiny red hair, a perfect complexion and the most beautiful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. Guess what didn’t comfort me and listen to me rant for hours when my boyfriend of four years and I broke up? Guess what can make me smile no matter how sad I feel? Guess what has built me up when I feel so low I don’t even know who I am anymore? I’ll give you a hint…big blue eyes and perfect hair have contributed nothing to our amazing friendship.
I love my best friend for her genuine heart. I think of the way she always always puts the needs and feelings of others above her own. I think of how crazy smart she is (just Saturday she was explaining the complexity of the digestive system to me and it was all just flying way over my head). And I’m thankful she’s there to listen to me rant whenever I need it, over analyze pointless drama and make ordinary every day life feel like a dance party not that she’s a size two.
I have a strong feeling you feel the same way about your bestie. I mean, unless you walked straight out of Mean Girls you probably won’t love her any less if she gains 10lbs, has a pimple or wears yoga pants every day of the week. I’m challenging myself (and you too!) to start loving yourself the way you love your best friends. I’m not arguing you should stop caring about your physical appearance…that isn’t a realistic solution. I’m asking you to look for the qualities that give you real value rather than solely emphasizing the way you look. Love yourself on “bad hair days”, love yourself when you’ve skipped the gym a few too many times, love yourself the way you love your bestie. I have a theory that the more we look inwards to define our beauty the more outwardly beautiful we become.
Which qualities make your best friend so beautiful? What do you think your best friends would say they love most about you?