“You’d only be beautiful if you lost weight.”
“Looks aren’t everything. At least you have a pretty smile.”
“Stay out of the sun, you don’t want to get dark.”
These were the phrases said to me growing up as an overweight kid, turned obese teenager. Like many fat kids, I was teased in school. Then, I would get the aforementioned comments from relatives. I never understood why people placed so much value in the way that I looked. But I was regularly told that I couldn't be beautiful because I was fat.
Through personal observation, especially at networking events, I’ve noticed that women who are perceived as beautiful are given more attention, seen as more confident, and are treated with more respect. So why, if we place such importance on beauty, is there a double standard when it comes to women appreciating themselves?
I was born with unruly wavy hair, skin that darkens minutes under a hot sun, and a body that I’m still learning to love. Through fitness and wellness, I’ve learned to appreciate my body and mind.
Since I’ve made such strives in my self-confidence, I’ve been posting a lot of photos of myself on Instagram. It is first and foremost a platform for me to promote body-positive content. Secondly, I promote emotional wellness, featuring activities that make me happy. I show off cupcakes, flowers, and both my inner and outer beauty.
Since talking about my Instagram obsession, I am beginning to hear more and more comments about the vapid and shallowness of taking selfies, especially targeted toward women.
This is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. If I am ugly, I am ridiculed. If I love my body, I am vain. So guess what? I don’t give a damn about what people think.
Yes, that’s right. That’s how you know I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve learned to get past the name-calling and shaming. I know I’m beautiful. I am more than a selfie.
Where someone sees a vain individual, I see an intelligent, compassionate woman who knows her self worth. I see a woman with 4 college degrees from the most prestigious public university in the world. I see a woman who regularly volunteers for the environment and people in need. I see a first-generation college student and child of immigrants. My character cannot be reduced to a single image. I don’t need to be modest about the love I have for myself.
Women are beautiful, and they don’t need approval to believe it so.
I am beautiful. I am beautiful not because I have lost weight. I am beautiful because I love who I am.