This is me right now. The first photograph is selfie no. 27 because I didn't enjoy my reflection in the first 26 photographs. They are unedited with poor quality lighting. I realised after a year of expressing myself openly on this account, that most of my photographs are from when I'm having a 'pretty' day. When I've recently dyed my eyebrows and I'm feeling 'less ugly'. I don't think of myself as ugly, until I look into the mirror and begin to focus on my flaws. My blackheads, my swollen eyes, fair eyebrows and lashes. Looking into the mirror is a reminder of why I feel inadequate. I tell myself that I have the face of a child with wrinkles. I often blame this youthful face for why so many people don't take me seriously or trust my inner wisdom. I tell myself that I'm not ugly when... when I have my eyebrows on, after the puffiness goes away, after this and that, if I catch the right light and hide my swollen glands from eating wheat last week, if my hair looks full instead of lifeless... After years of positive mantras and reconditioning to feel beautiful in my natural skin, I'm still surrounded by negative self-talk. The road to feeling worthy, feeling whole, feeling beautiful, is long, windy and bumpy. I can remember praying to god at 6, asking to stay blonde and thin, as though that was the only way our culture would find me beautiful. A lot has changed since then, but I still expect myself to grow luscious Bridget Bardot style hair and stay under a certain weight range. I criticize myself for eating 'too much' or the 'wrong things'. I binge to fill the hole, and then criticize myself for seeking what it is I need from an unhealthy place. I criticize myself for not looking after my skin enough, for not drinking more water or getting more facials. For not doing more sit ups or going to the gym more. I'm aware that my expectations are unrealistic, so few of us can 'have it all'; the relationships, the careers, the family, the perfect body and all that we're told to strive for. And yet we keep on striving and using self-criticism as our motivator. But what if we could use positive reinforcement for inspiration?
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