This morning when I woke up, I immediately opened the Tumblr app on my phone. As I scrolled down, I saw the usual: skinny women, makeup advice, expensive clothing brands, etc. and instead of feeling entertained I instead began to feel kind of sad. I started to wish I looked like those girls with the contoured cheek bones or collar bones. I started to wish I had a thigh gap or can contour larger breast onto myself, and I shouldn’t feel that way.
Sadly, what I experienced today was somewhat ordinary. Many women are waking up in the morning and doing the same thing I did, and it’s about time this pattern of thinking comes to an end. There is beauty in all of us. For every time we have looked at those picture on social media and wished we were someone else, someone else has looked at us on social media and wished they were us.
There is a vicious cycle of insecurity lurking behind all our social media posts. Why is it so hard for us to not compare ourselves to others? Why is it so hard for me to see myself as my boyfriend does or as my family members do?
I just came across this amazingly motivating and empowering speech made by Caira Lee, a national award-winning slam poet, that brightened my day. In the TEDx talk, she says, “Your body, race, and sexual orientation are assets that don’t need fixing. Build your life around them and capitalize on them. I am the most important person in the world to me. I admire that person.”
I wouldn’t usually think that I need someone to remind me that I don’t need fixing, but it is very apparent that I do. Getting caught up in all the fads, all the trends in fashion and beauty in order to be popular or well-liked by others has taken a toll on my self-esteem.
It’s weird because it is not that I find myself unappealing, but that I am constantly finding other women more appealing than I am. This has pushed me to do things like buy waist trainers, wear my makeup a certain way, and wear a certain style of clothing. Today, I want to take a step in the right direction. I want to be able to take a look at myself in the mirror without makeup and admire what makes me unique.
“Your body, race, and sexual orientation are assets that don’t need fixing. Build your life around them and capitalize on them…I am the most important person in the world to me. I admire that person.”
Luckily, Caira has laid out four steps that she feels will help people come to love themselves more and develop that level of self-esteem that will allow us to live our lives in the most fulfilling way.
1. Find your passion and pursue what you love to do
First, she says we need to find our passion. What do you love to do? What are you good at? Find that activity that makes you happy, the one that you can do for hours and not feel like you’re working. When you find that activity, never let it go.
Many people nowadays are so worried about what other people think of them or making tons of money that they lose sight of who they are. Your hobbies and your passion are essentially who you are, so do not push them aside for something else. Once you have found your niche, strive to be the best at it and the money will take care of itself.
2. Know and be proud of your history and heritage
The second tip of advice she gives is, “If your black, know your history.” She says that it is important to know there is another way of being in the world, alternative ways of living other than the way you have been living.
Growing up the daughter of Carribean parents in an outer city of New York, this tip spoke to me because it has been something that I’ve always had to keep in mind. I’ve always had to tell myself that my town and my upbringing is not who I am, and whatever I want in life is within my reach if I am willing to work hard for it.
Whoever you are, wherever you are from, just know that you are in charge of your life. Even if you are not a person of color, you do not have to stay in your hometown for the rest of your life, and you do not have to follow that same path as your family and friends. It’s okay to be different. Each one of us has a special story and unique outlook on life that can not be replicated. Use this to your advantage!
Police the thoughts in your head. The beginning of a positive outlook of yourself comes from within. You cannot say mean things to yourself in your head while saying positive things about yourself to other people and expect a high self-esteem.
3. Think positively about yourself
I agree with Caira here. We must start thinking positively about ourselves. When we do this we start to believe that we are good enough, which is very important.
4. Encourage others to believe in themselves too
The last piece of advice she gives is to give self-love to others. “When you hear some say I would apply to that but, I would do that but I am not pretty enough I am not good enough, it is your responsibility to say stop that… You can’t say that about yourself.” Because what you say to yourself is so important, it’s very beneficial to encourage others to believe in what they could do.
Although people physically can think for themselves, they have the tendency to listen and be influenced by the words of others. When these words are positive, it can influence someone to make a significant change in their life. They might apply for that job, text that guy they’ve had a crush on, or simply just stop being so hard on themselves. Be there for your friends and family. Build them up to fulfill their potential.
I’m sure there are still going to be days when I wish I was a supermodel or an Instagram famous makeup artist. Yet, what I will not do anymore is doubt the greatness in myself. Yes, supermodels are beautiful, but I am also beautiful. I have so much to offer this world – I am passionate, smart, and so much more.
If you have been struggling with self-esteem lately, I hope that you too come to know your beauty and your worth. Unfortunately, no amount of contour powder or highlighter is going to change how we feel about ourselves. It is up to us to take time for our mental health.