In some ways, I see myself as the ugly duckling who bloomed with time into a sexy, sleek swan. While I owe mother nature a thank you for my little glow-up, I’ve also done some things on my own to give myself a confidence boost. Here’s how I’ve come to believe that I’m beautiful.
I accept compliments about my looks instead of disagreeing with them. It took a friend telling me how irritating it was for me to always argue with compliments she or anyone else gave me for me to realize that I was way too hard on myself. I deserve to be considered beautiful and shouldn’t have to deflect or apologize for it. Learning not to be skeptical when I receive a nice compliment from someone has helped me to embrace what I look like and enjoy my beauty.
I wear less makeup. I love makeup but wearing less of it over the years has helped me see my face for what it really is. I used to refuse to leave the house unless I was totally done-up, but lately I’ve pulled further away from wearing a full face of makeup all of the time. I keep my staples—eyeliner, mascara, and a lip tint—for work, the gym, and the grocery store; I save the eyeshadow, contour cream, foundation and blush certain occasions or when I’m feeling dramatic. Redefining the role of makeup in my life has empowered me to define my own beauty standards and decide what makes me feel beautiful.
I’m learning to embrace my physical flaws. I’m not perfect at all. My skin is irritating, my nose is big and crooked, I have stretch marks and arm fat, and I wish my teeth were whiter. But unless I’m going to spend a bajillion dollars to “fix” all of those things, I have to work with what I’ve got. Accepting these things isn’t easy—it’s taken time and there is no one size fits all approach to being OK with the things you consider flaws—but I do know that the things you don’t like the most about yourself are things that no one else sees or ever considers unless they’re hyper-focused on you, and most times they’re not.
I try not to beat myself up over a blemish. Pimples suck and for some reason it seems like I’m suffering as an adult for having nearly flawless skin as a teenager and avoiding the ridicule associated with teenage acne. These days, my skin goes through flares and it seems like no amount of acne medication seems to fix it. I used to get extremely upset about my skin to the point of tears because all I wanted was flawless Kim K skin, but thinking like that is toxic. I still have my days but I’m doing my best to just deal with it without letting a pimple destroy my life.
I let my personality shine. You know how a super hot guy is instantly less attractive if he has a horrible personality? I believe that’s true for women too. What I don’t have in looks, I try to make up for in kindness, politeness, and a positive attitude as often as I can. A person who’s beautiful on the inside is 10x more beautiful than a negative, horrible person with an amazing appearance.
I work hard on my fitness. I’m really into staying healthy and fit. I also set fitness goals for myself and hold myself accountable for meeting them. Focusing on keeping my body healthy from the inside out and watching my body change according to my standards and goals has helped me feel more beautiful and confident these days. If I receive a compliment about how fit I look, it makes me feel really good because I know that I alone am responsible for that.
I wear clothes that make me feel powerful. If you’re struggling to feel more confident about your looks, it may be worth thinking about this “power dressing” concept. In some ways, a beautiful woman is a powerful woman, and where her power comes from varies. For me, when I want to feel instantly in charge, I’ll put on my favorite leather jacket or pair of jeans that I feel great in. As a result, I feel beautiful, confident and ready to take on the world.
I have sex with the lights on. I know this is a cliche and everyone seems to talk about how having sex with the lights on is a thing, but it really made all the difference for me. Sharing your body with someone is scary enough. Getting to a point where I can do it, flaws and all, with all of the lights on has given me the confidence I need to feel sexy.
I don’t follow every single beauty tip out there. I used to pore over beauty tips from industry insiders hoping to discover the next great hack to improve my appearance, but after a while it became exhausting to keep up with, expensive because I’d keep buying product after product, and a little demoralizing when I realized that certain tips just don’t work for me. These days, I do a lot less obsessing over the latest great beauty hack and stick to some of my old tricks.
I remember that life is much bigger than my looks. It’s so easy to get caught up in things that don’t matter. I’m not saying that physical appearance doesn’t matter, I’m saying that the way you feel about yourself matters more than trying to fit into a one size fits all paradigm of beauty that doesn’t exist. Set your own beauty goals. Don’t kill yourself over cellulite and pimples. Remember that personality matters more. And focus on improving your health and life, not just your looks.
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