Images, words, stories, people we meet…everything we encounter makes us who we are. Good or bad they collect. They imprint on our souls and make us who we are. Some of our encounters reveal the things in our lives that light a fire, some people remind us of traits we love about ourselves. We take their humor, or candor, or thoughtfulness and make it our own. But, some people reflect the things we dislike about ourselves. Maybe theirs is better, and we wish we were more like them. Maybe, they have something we always wished we had, and so we think less of ourselves. Whatever lies we accept from them…they stick too. As we grow, and move through life, we collect these lies. From small to great, they pile up on our hearts. They begin to change our vision of ourselves, until our reflection is so skewed, we can no longer see how amazing we really are.
It is subtle. Maybe they are blonde, and we are brunette…maybe they seem cool, strong, or like they are way more stylish then we are. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is cuts us to the core. It seems strange to think that what we see in the mirror is not actually what other people see. Like our reflection is our reflection and it can’t change…but it does. Our minds teach us we are fatter, weirder, not cool enough, not athletic enough. Our minds begin to accept the images the world tells us are normal. And so we look in the mirror and we don’t see ourselves…we see the “not” version…not pretty, not stylish, not athletic, not thin.
Social media, magazines, videos, movies…our minds are invaded daily with images. We are constantly shown what is “accepted” and what is “normal” We can not stop the images from coming, we can not ignore print and social media all together. Social norms will not change. But, we can. We can rewrite the way we see ourselves. Think back to the last time you posted an image of yourself. Ask yourself how many times you checked to see the number of likes or hearts you had. Did you wonder why someone else had more than you? Did you catch yourself feeling sad because no one noticed? Did you feel the pang of self hate…question that you weren’t enough to be noticed? This is the cycle social media puts us in…no matter what age you are.
So if we can’t change society, and we can’t stop social media, then what? How do we break the cycle. What if instead of checking for likes, you simply posted the picture because you genuinely wanted to share. What if when no one liked your post your internal dialogue was all about reminding yourself that there are hundreds of reasons in the world why someone skimmed by your post, the last of which probably had to do with the way you look. What if, you began to accept everything you hate about yourself as everything that makes you unique and amazing. One by one, lie by lie tear up what society tells us, and make a new image. One that tells you the truth about how much you are worth.
As I look at this image and write this post, I have tears in my eyes. It took me so long to figure out all the lies I had been told, all the lies I had accepted. It took me so long to realize that I had to put effort, thought, actual time into myself. One by one I am tearing up what I used to believe about myself, and I am creating a new belief. I desperately want you to do the same. Journal, close your social media accounts, literally tear up images of the things that bring you down. Let them go. Give yourself the ability to be different, unique, one of a kind…special! Do the work! You are worth it. Give society back all it’s “norms”, and begin to accept your own.
Disclaimer: You may recognize issues of teen vogue, and an ad from Guess Jeans. I am in no way blaming them specifically for the issues we face, I simply had them on hand. Actually, if you want a magazine with a majority of positive body image articles, teen issues, and a message to reach your dreams, Teen Vogue is actually pretty darn amazing!