I remember the first time I looked at myself in the mirror and saw myself. I was standing in my bedroom at my granny and grandad’s house, in front of the full length mirror attached to the wardrobe door. It had glow in the dark stars around the edges, presumably stuck on by a family member years before. As I stared into the glass, something in me clicked and I remember literally thinking ‘so this is what I look like?’.
It was a strange feeling, because I wasn’t sure I liked what I saw. I hated my hair colour, often described as dirty blonde (this made me hate it more). I was disgusted at my gappy, wonky teeth and the freckles on my nose. My stomach was a little bit podgy and I had no definition in my legs which upset me – being female was largely about having a great set of pins, right? I often look at young girls nowadays talking about the things they love and hate about their bodies, and it shocks me. Why on earth are they feeling this way, they’re 13 years old! I then look back at myself in the mirror and remember that the first time I took notice I was in year 7, so I couldn’t have been older than 12.
The thing that scares me the most, is that when I was scrutinising every inch of my being, I didn’t wear make-up, I didn’t have the latest pair of TopShop jeans or highlights in my hair. The reflection staring back at me was me, completely and unaltered. When tweens in 2016 look at themselves, they see a face crafted by Urban Decay and Benefit, they see a Zara dress and the latest PUMA X FENTY creepers. They look like they’ve stepped straight out of a Tumblr post and they definitely don’t look their age, and they still find things they hate about themselves, even with the beauty regime and the weekends spent browsing the shelves of Urban Outfitters.
Would I have been so uncomfortable with myself had I had access to the tools these girls do now? I don’t know.
Self esteem is a funny old thing. We often see ourselves differently to how other people do. At work, I spend a lot of time photographing staff with a colleague, and I always find it interesting but also quite sad to hear the things these people have to say about themselves while we’re taking the photos. Sometimes you wish you could give them your eyes for a second, just so they can see themselves how you do. I’m still not totally cool with myself, and I don’t know if I ever will be, but sometimes I wonder what other people think about me when I say the stuff others say to me when we’re taking their photo.
Working on your confidence is a strange path to walk. I personally find it a lot easier to accept that I’m not terrible at things I do, but as soon as somebody comes along and compliments my eyes, or tries to tell me I have cute ears or some shit I immediately assume they’re out to get me.
I’m trying my best to accept myself for who I am, but it’s a lot of work. Have any of you been on this journey? How have you found it? What has helped you along the way to a lil bit o’ self lovin’? Let me know in the comments!