Our BE YOUtiful campaign encourages everyone everywhere to reclaim the beauty and power within. We are reposting our series of inspirational blog articles with a BE YOUtiful message from previous years, to give you a chance to discover these wonderful messages again! Here's one about reclaiming your power by being YOU from Carleeh Mulholland of Healthy Socialite.
I often think back on my pre-teen years, reflecting on what made an impact on me. I do this to focus on what will help write my daughters' stories and to shape their image of their imperfect bodies.
I bought my first issue of Cosmopolitan magazine when I was eleven. I used to spend my money on magazines that were full of bright colors, fun clothes, and teen-friendly tips. As I made the transition from a teen to an adult, something in me shifted: body image.
I started to see myself in a different way, but I felt pressure to look a certain way whenever I was around other people my age. As I read and became invested in the monthly "how-to" guides in these magazines, things started getting uncomfortable. I started to feel like I wasn't good enough the way I was. For the first time, I was being told what beauty was, and I either fit the mold or didn't possess it. From then on, I would strive to be the ideal image of a girl on the pages of these magazines. Eventually, I started to hate myself for being born without the genes to fit in.
Isn't it funny how comparison sneaks up on us? How we go from perfectly happy with who we are in the world to feeling above or below another person in an instant because of visual cues?
We all have been there: You're in a store and you bump into the one person that you wouldn't want to see you without makeup and in frumpy clothes. You stumble for excuses to dismiss your horribly unkept self and try to save face
The truth is, from that moment on, you will pick yourself apart for not being pretty in public...or in life, generally speaking.
I remember when I couldn't leave the house without makeup, a perfectly picked outfit, or a good hair day. It was a production, hours of work just to step out into the world and fit in. It was like I wasn't good enough to be myself. I required fixing to exist inside my own body and outside for everyone else to critique. I got so sick of it, so I decided to completely take the focus off of others and find what made me beautiful.
Why do we allow others to put beauty on this almost unobtainable pedestal? I say ENOUGH. You don't need to please anyone. Don't let the unrealistic, media-planted expectations of beauty tell you how you measure up.
As women, we are constantly bombarded with the ideal image of what are bodies are supposed to look like. We always fall for it. It makes us cry in dressing rooms, body shame in our minds, and go on punishing diets to fit in.
We need to hold our thoughts accountable and ask our bodies for forgiveness.
Throughout my fitness journey, the parts of my body that I'd focus negatively on suddenly became stronger—and I was actually proud of them. I could do things I had never done before, like mud runs, half marathons, and pushups! One day, I just quit shaming myself because I was too busy loving all of my growth.
There is no secret to loving yourself and your flaws. There is no magic formula. There's just kindness. Where ever you are right now, your body is good enough. Your body can do amazing things. Use positive energy to building yourself up, rather than tearing yourself down.
You don't need to fit into a box or compete with a girl in your magazine. You have to teach others how to love you and your body by setting the example and doing it yourself. The media does not get to choose how you define beauty or the power you feel when you find it inside yourself.
Once we all come to terms with that—and our flaws—we will all be unstoppable.
Go ahead, be unstoppable. Because when you are, you're also #beyoutiful. Join the movement. Download your free BE YOUtiful poster and snap YOUR #beYOUtiful pic. Post and share to help spread this important message!