This article was first published on June 13, 2017 on Peaceful Dumpling
“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” – Audrey Hepburn
Early in my fashion career, I spent a great deal of time working with women I met when they came to my brand as clients or as models. Working one-on-one with these women, I found a recurring pattern as I fitted them in our clothes. So many focused on meeting standards of “ideal beauty.”
On a few occasions, when preparing for a runway show or a photo shoot, I worked with models who refused to eat before the show or the shoot because they felt they would not fit into the clothes. When one model nearly fainted, I was convinced that there was a real problem with how women thought about themselves.
They did not see their outer beauty for what it truly was, and this was sad to me. Audrey Hepburn is considered to have been one of the most beautiful women in the world – but not only because of her outer beauty. It was also her inner beauty that captured and mesmerized millions.
Before I continue, please know that there is nothing wrong with loving your outer beauty or wanting to maintain it. As a woman who works in the fashion industry and is also a lover of beauty products, I know how easy it is to think about your outer beauty. The issue I have with obsessing over your physical beauty alone is that all too often, it consumes us to the point that we can no longer see ourselves as the beauties we are. We forget that what truly highlights our outer beauty is all the greatness we possess inside our souls.
But rather than thinking we should try to put our physical appearance out of mind, I believe that self-love comes from a marriage of finding appreciation for your physical beauty and cherishing your inner beauty. That may be easier said than done, but my career has encouraged me to reconsider my views about my physical beauty and helped me value it more, leading to greater self-love.
Ironically enough, being a fashion designer has helped me become comfortable in my own skin. I realized that all women see a flaw within themselves, and often, those flaws are what make them a uniquely beautiful woman.
One time, I was working with one model, we had difficulty putting her in a pair of pants. The standard sample size in the fashion industry is a size 4, which is a size 0-2 in most commercial clothes. I chose to work with this particular model because she had a figure, a figure that I would describe as healthy and normal. I felt horrible after she blamed her butt for being too big. I sat down with her and told her this was not the case at all and explained to her that I actually had chosen her to walk the show because of her booty. This model is gorgeous and to see her demeanor deteriorate because she felt she was too fat was heartbreaking. We discussed how important it was to love every part of our body because it makes us unique.
Following this experience and others like it, I came to see easy ways to start recognizing your true beauty and worth as a woman. They are little mindset shifts anyone can put into place in her life.
Below you will find 6 common ways women devalue their natural beauty, why it’s not okay, and how you can make it right.
1. Self-criticism. Women are the most critical about themselves and often times, are the first to announce to everyone what is wrong with their appearance. Criticizing yourself only brings you down and doesn’t make you feel good. What you can do differently: Instead of finding ways to critique your beauty or your body, think of all the good you do have. Trust me, take time to look at yourself, you do have attributes that others wish they had.
2. Focus on flaws. We tend to concentrate on our flaws, which does not allow us to find the beautiful attributes we all carry. What you can do differently: Remember that everyone has flaws and no one is perfect. I encourage you to find the good you do have and concentrate on that.
3. Comparison fatigue. Women often don’t feel innately proud of their own appearance. Instead, they compare themselves to others and determine that their look is not beautiful. What you can do differently: Know that what makes you who you are is that you are unique – and your beauty is unique to you. You are beautiful, believe it!
4. Unrealistic goals. Too many women seek an unattainable level of perfection, and it reinforces the idea that our beauty will never be enough nor accepted by society. What you can do differently: As I said earlier: perfection or ideal beauty does not exist. Repeat this to yourself and stop looking for it.
5. Size shame. Women often find it difficult to discuss their true size. Every time a woman conceals her size, all this does is support the idea that there is something wrong with a woman’s natural appearance. What you can do differently: Recognize that bodies and measurements are not cookie cutter shapes. We are meant to be different. Embrace this and be proud of your body.
6. Photo envy. We compare ourselves to Photoshopped, edited and filtered images – a habit that makes us believe that we are beyond flawed. Do this, and it’s easy to start feeling horrible about yourself. What you can do differently: Realize that most images that you see in advertisements, magazines, and social media are heavily edited. Remember that, in real life, most of those people do not actually look like they do in those pictures when you see them in person or on an average day in their life.
Have you ever felt like your inner beauty is not enough to make your outer beauty something you can confidently believe in? No matter who you are or what stage you are in your life, I encourage you to ask yourself why you feel this way and how you can reverse these thoughts and feelings. Comment below and share with us your mind shifts to stop worrying about “ideal beauty” and recognize your true beauty and your worth.