What is True Beauty Anyway?
We all know the old saying that ‘beauty is only skin deep’ yet every day we are faced with a barrage of images of what society calls ‘beautiful’: symmetrical features, flawless skin, whiter-than-white smiles, flat stomachs – you get the gist. It’s hard not to feel that this is what we are meant to look like in order to be happy, successful and to get the girl/boy of our dreams.
In reality, we are all different, we have parts of ourselves we like more and less, things we would change and things we wouldn’t, and our appearance changes all the time. We age (if we are lucky) and develop creases around our eyes, we go up or down a dress size, we get stressed and have a break out, the dark circles appear under our eyes after a few sleepless nights, we have bad hair days.
Our self-esteem is like a wardrobe. When there are lots of things hanging inside the wardrobe, we don’t notice immediately if one item of clothing is missing. If my self-esteem wardrobe has hangers inside it like ‘I’m a kind person’, ‘I am strong’, ‘I have lots of interests’, ‘I have really good friends, ‘I’m good at my job’, ‘I am smart’, ‘I like how I look’, then when one hanger falls, my self-esteem is less likely to be affected negatively than if my wardrobe only contains ‘I like how I look’ and ‘I am good at my job’. If our appearance is one of the few things in our wardrobe, changes to appearance will impact on how we think and feel about ourselves. In extreme cases, this can cause anxiety and depression.
So while it is important to take care of ourselves in a way that leaves us feeling good, it is of even greater importance that we don’t define ourselves purely by how we look.
If you or someone you know is experiencing low self-esteem (feeling bad about who you are), depression or anxiety, talk to a trusted person about how you are feeling. Listed below are a number of resources that may be helpful.
www.spunout.ie (for 16-25 year olds)
If you or someone you know is at risk of physical harm, contact your GP or local out of hours service immediately. You can also call Samaritans for free on 116123
The views expressed above solely represent the opinions of the author and are not a substitute for advice from a qualified professional.