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I Spoke to 4 People About Self Acceptance in the Age of Beauty Perfection

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Image – Amorburakova/Stocksy

We all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin, and we all deserve to feel beautiful. Owning who we are, inside and out, is the key to embodying more self-empowerment and ultimately more beauty. 

Yet in the age of the internet we’re also constantly bombarded by images of the supposed beauty “ideal”.

As a result, loving ourselves as we are is a journey that, for many of us, feels out of reach. But, there are plenty of us who’ve already achieved the dizzying heights of self-acceptance.

Just take feminist and body-positive influencer The Slumflower as an example, who started the “Saggy Boobs Matter” movement and is someone who believes fully in ‘tasting your own magic’. This was because she internalised the idea that because her breasts were saggy, there was something wrong with her. I’m sure many women can relate. I know I can. 

What it came down to, was that there was no media representation of people with saggy breasts. She sought to change this, and in the process has inspired many women to accept and love their bodies for how they are. The same goes for Tanerelle, a singer, whose images broke newspaper headlines in 2019 after wearing an outfit flaunting her sagging breasts. She has since been featured in Playboy.

Here I share my own experience learning to accept my own natural beauty, and speak to four others on how they achieved self-acceptance.

 


My own beauty journey

Beauty standards are not just defined by epoch, but they are also defined by culture, postdoctoral researcher Desire Alice Naigaga told me that “In many African and Arabic countries, being overweight has been associated with richness, health, strength, and fertility whereas in the Western world, a slim body size is widely idealised.”   

My experience in Jamaica reflected this, and was, in many ways, empowering in terms  of how I viewed my own body. Thicker bodies – in fact all body shapes and sizes – are celebrated and flaunted. This was such a shift from what I’d been taught and what I’d seen growing up – that being skinny was the ideal, that we should all aim for.  

 

Image – Courtesy of writer

 

It was when I went back to Jamaica and began living in Mexico I first started to discover, and embody, my own unique beauty, because I learned to see myself outside of what was culturally beautiful in terms of the European lens.

Before this trip, I always saw other people as beautiful, never myself. As a teenager I’d struggled with my weight, and I was growing up in a time before it was considered ‘cool’ to be mixed-race, so many of my features like my hair, and my lips were things that people made fun of. 

Going to the Caribbean and Latin America was like looking at myself in the mirror for the first time, and really seeing myself clearly. I felt more confident to wear clothes that I would never have dreamed of wearing before, as well as experiment with styles that a warmer climate allows for. Boho, beach chic is definitely my vibe!

Beauty standards shift depending upon time, place and culture. These are things that we have no control over – but what we do have control over is how we feel within. Self-empowerment regarding what we look like, starts with embracing who we are. Owning and expressing our unique beauty while physical – goes beyond that.  

 


Signs of strength

Lesha, a 29-year-old Black, non-binary, community organiser based in Liverpool, UK, echoed this sentiment and said that it’s important to recognise “how beauty norms have perpetually undermined our self-worth, compelling us to purchase products to compensate for feeling inadequate”. 

 

Image – Courtesy of writer

 

Lesha’s story of embracing their beauty has been an interesting one. When they were younger, after being severely burned, they underwent a skin graft surgery, where skin was taken from their left thigh and put on their arm, they said “at a tender age I knew my body would never be the same again, and for a very long time I struggled to see my body as beautiful and loveable”.  

Yet, they understood the power of being vulnerable and they chose to see their scars as “proof of strength, each telling a tale of resilience and survival”.    

 


Focusing on health

I also had an interesting conversation with Hannah, a 36-year-old singer/songwriter from Minneapolis, whose life blood is music.

She has been on a journey with owning her unique beauty and has had many struggles, she said ‘like we all do when we’re growing up we’re inundated with unrealistic messages about what beauty means’ this contributed to her body dysmorphia and feeling as if she was too overweight, and too curvy. 

 

Image – Courtesy of writer

 

She developed an eating disorder as a way of coping with her feelings of anxiety, which she has since received treatment for to help her develop a healthy relationship with food, as well as her body dysmorphia. 

What she now chooses to focus on instead, is how healthy she feels. She has managed to reorient her perspective from one that focused heavily on what her body looks like, to “all of the magical things” her body does for her and the “internal wealth” that she carries.   

When I asked her what helped her with this, she told me sending love to all the parts of her body that sag, are decorated in stretch marks or are ‘too big’.

 


Model culture 

Beth, a 30-year-old yoga teacher and former model, agreed that it’s often when looking back at our younger selves that we can actually gain perspective on our insecurities. “Beauty used to mean a very different thing for me. I was a model for a few years in my early twenties, and growing up in a culture where I was expected to look a certain way, I thought that being skinny and perfect all the time meant beauty. 

“I thought beauty was for the eye of the male gaze, or for supermodels. I had eating and panic disorders all through my twenties, I turned down invites to places – and when I did go, I’d agonise for hours on my reflection in the mirror. And look back, I was tiny”.

 

Image – Courtesy of writer

 


Skinny-dipping for confidence

When I interviewed Erika, a singer/songwriter from Canada, she echoed similar sentiments  “Sometimes people can be all shapes and sizes, and exude beauty. A lot of beauty is about confidence, self care, and if your spirit is vibrant – of course – some people are genetically beautiful, but we all have beauty.” 

 

Image – Courtesy of writer

 

When I asked her one thing she does that makes her feel beautiful she responded “skinny-dipping”. Erika finds being both naked and in nature helps her to feel comfortable and at ease in her own skin.

 


The takeaway

While there is a physical component towards beauty, what I have found on my own journey of embracing what I look like, is that it is more than skin deep. Being beautiful is much more about feeling beautiful and radiating a particular kind of energy. It’s about embracing yourself as you are, flaws and all.

 

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Freelance Beauty Writer

Aimie is a writer, business owner, and world traveller. You can find her dancing, as well as learning about natural and effective ways to enhance beauty.

Expertise: Haircare, Skin care
Education: Lancaster University
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