“Yuck – crooked teeth; graying hair that’s getting harder and harder to cover; a waist that I haven’t seen in a decade; - How can I possibly like myself? How can anybody else?”
I was pretty happy with myself till high school. That’s when I learned that the rules changed. I for sure didn’t have what it took to be popular. I didn’t have a great sense of grooming, and my eyebrows were naturally pretty thick.
I didn’t think too much about them, until I overheard some kids singing a song they made up about my eyebrows, including the lyrics, “birds nest”. That was in 1975, and I still remember that to this day. That was when I accepted the rule, that I was unacceptable the way that I was.
Some of us have continued to buy into that rule-that we are not enough. We have bought into the assumption that we are unacceptable if we don’t look a certain way. Even though that assumption seems so widely accepted, and so pervasive in the media, we are allowed to question whether physical qualities such as our bone structure, our height, or the thickness of our brows, are emblematic of who we truly are as a person.
First we can examine whether or not these qualities are something we have a choice about. There are some personal characteristics that we can change, and some which would be difficult to alter. Some characteristics are determined by genes, opportunities that we have, and other factors over which we have little control.
If we were in a class, and had a teacher that evaluated us based on factors over which we had no control and played no part in, we would likely be unhappy with that teacher. If we had a judge who condemned us based on things we did not do, we would see how unfair that would be. Does it not stand to reason then that we are being unfair to ourselves, rejecting our worth based on criteria over which we have little to no control?
We can then ask ourselves whether or not we have to buy into the bodily perception of who we are. Rather than accepting that how we look completely defines us, we can look at it as one of many of our characteristics. We don’t even have to put our external definition of ourselves at the top of our list.
We can work to look our best, but not condemn ourselves for our physical features that are out of our control. Instead, we can be aware and accepting of who we are as a person in our totality. We can choose to appreciate more important, internal, personal qualities over which we have control, such as kindness, perseverance, patience, and forgiveness. When we choose the criteria upon which we base our self-worth, we can then practice “self-talk” that is fair, based on qualities we deem to be important and over which we do have some control.