Almost every night, I put on lipstick, fixed my hair, and looked at myself in the mirror. Then, I took dozens of selfies from different angles (even though I didn’t love them) and sent them to my mom, waiting for her approval.
Sounds narcissistic, right?
The reality is that I felt so insecure about my eyes that I took photos just as an excuse to scrutinize them. I didn’t like my eyes.
Growing up, I never could say that I had pretty eyes. In fact, I still remember the moment when one of my middle school classmates commented on my eyes. “Why do they look so tiny?” he asked me, laughing. I took his words as a joke, but my heart sank. At that moment, my biggest fear came true.
Someone disliked my eyes, just like I did, and it validated all of my insecurities.
I hated the way that my eyelids looked puffy in almost every picture. I hated that I had eyelid folds. Additionally, I hated how short my eyelashes were. No matter how much serum I used, my eyelashes were never as long as I wanted them to be. Honestly, I can’t count how many times I tried to “ fix” my eyes, either by doing facial massages, finding “the best” photo angle to make them look “presentable,” or just squeezing my eyes to try to accentuate them. Every time I looked at my eyes in the mirror, I cried. Would I have to get double eyelid surgery to have the “right” look? And if I had “new” eyes, would I finally feel beautiful and fully embrace myself?
Often, I wonder when all of these thoughts began.
Perhaps they came when I was a young girl. Just like most women, I want to feel beautiful. And just like most women, my exposure to social media and celebrity culture left me in awe of the stunning Instagram models and K-pop idols who fit society’s beauty standards. Their eyes sparkled, they had double eyelids, and their eyes were the “perfect” shape.
If you Google “Celebrities talking about self-love and body image,” you’ll find millions of results. The movement toward body acceptance seems great, but does it come from real experiences? Despite these positive messages, many celebrities still make money from their “flawless” personas. So do their messages of “self-love” ring true?
At the end of the day, where can we turn to find self-love?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to these questions. The media imprints our consciousness with an “ideal” image of beauty. These standards demand that you have big eyes, a high nose bridge, full lips, and an hourglass figure. It’s easy to see how this affects how we view beauty, both in ourselves and in others.
But as the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And as cliché as that may sound, I believe that it means that we can learn to accept our natural bodies. We don’t need to completely adore our bodies or brainwash ourselves with delusional thoughts that we have a one-of-a-kind beauty. Instead, we can learn to embrace our imperfections and realize that they make us stand out in positive ways. We may wish that we look different, but we can also know that our “flaws” make us who we are.
Learning to love yourself is hard, especially if you’re a woman. But no matter how grueling the self-love process feels and how much it fluctuates, I know that we can all keep moving toward self-love. We can slowly learn to love ourselves until one day, we can proudly say, “I’m not perfect, and that’s absolutely OK.”