Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Of Self-Esteem, Beauty, and Competitive Comparisons

hi there, just wanted to pen down my thoughts today.
i've been thinking about this issue of self-esteem, beauty, competitive comparisons for some time now, just trying to figure it out.

self-esteem in our world today seems like a very...complex idea to grasp.
i do wonder, how many people can actually surely say "i'm confident. i'm 100% happy with myself. there is absolutely nothing i would like to change about myself."
would you be able to say that loud and proud?
i know for one that as of now, i'm not able to do that.

for starters, here is an excerpt from a text i read a few days ago.
“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another....

One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object -- and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.” 
― John BergerWays of Seeing

i wouldn't say i agree fully with this text, but some ideas do resonate with me (esp the ones in bold).
to put it simply,
why do we search for our own beauty in the eyes of others?
okay, i guess its natural to want to look good, to everyone and to the other gender whether you are attached or not.
most would feel a slight rush of happiness when their other halves compliment them for say, their dressing that day.
and thats normal, really.
but this i have realized, what is more important is how you feel about it.
for example, when i went shopping with D that day, he pointed at a few blue dresses and said it was nice and asked if i wanted to get it.
i could get it, wear it and look nice to him.
or, i could follow what i really want and not get it, because i feel that its a shade of blue that doesn't complement my skintone and wear something else that i truly like instead.
of course this is just a little example, it builds up to a broader, more complex perspective.
my point is, don't let your decisions be controlled by others, be honest to yourself about what you truly want.

i think nowadays, we are more and more concerned with how we look not just to the other gender, but also those of the same gender.
there seems to be some untold competition brewing.
a few days ago, someone left me some comments on askfm, which is something along the line of:
"you're really pretty! what advice would you give those who aren't as fortunate to be born pretty like you and are struggling with negative self-image?"
i am very thankful to this someone who thinks of me so highly, really.
and i'm not trying to be humble or anything but honestly, i know deep inside that i'm not able to believe in that comment entirely. 
because like many others, i find it so easy to find faults in myself that its like second nature, especially when the idea of comparing comes in.

i'm honestly not the best person to give advice on negative self-image, because i do have my own insecurities and i'm battling it day by day to the best of my abilities.
there are days when i look in the mirror and think, 
if only my thighs were thinner.
if only my hips weren't so wide.
if only my zygoma weren't so protruding.
i know sometimes its easy to say that "looks aren't everything, don't feel bad about yourself over looks."
but in reality, its hard to truly accept that and feel that way.
knowing it theoretically and actually accepting it with your heart is two different things.

i do think that we ourselves are our harshest critics.
and its hard not to be harsh on ourselves when there are so so many beautiful people in the world, and comparing is perpetuated by social media.
#bodygoals #relationshipgoals, sounds familiar?
why is it so easy to find beauty in someone else, look past their flaws, and do the complete opposite for yourself?

we're always thinking that we aren't good enough.
but do we ever think about this question,
"who are you not good enough for?"
there will always be someone out there who is academically smarter, has the socially accepted "perfect features" etc.
but we have to know that no matter how hard we wish we could be them,
its just not gonna happen.
the only thing we are and can be is ourselves.
so the only thing we can do is to make the best out of it and at least be the best that we can be.
at least thats doing yourself justice.

and its probably best not to feed your self-esteem using compliments from others, because those are but temporary and shallow measures.
of course, a genuine compliment once in awhile is a kind act.
but imagine, isn't it dangerous to rest your whole self-esteem on what third parties say?
today, someone may tell you you're beautiful, and therefore you think you're beautiful.
the next day, someone else tells you you're hideous, and then you mope and cry over it.
so, are you all that what others deem you to be?
i hope not, because thats the silliest thing one can do.

something more lasting would be to derive it from yourself, and you have to truly believe in it.
i guess the question we all have to ask ourselves is,
"who do you want to be remembered as?"
last time in school, when i had casual chats with friends, one of the common topics is about the "popular" kids.
"oh, xxx? i think she's pretty."
"oh, xxx? quite high profile one right."
at the end of the day, is that all you want others to remember you as?
i wouldn't, because that would be so sad.
and so, i realised and understood what matters more.
i want to be remembered as, the girl who prepared birthday celebrations for my friends and made cards for them, the goofy one who likes to send derp faces on whatsapp, the one who was apprehensive about telling everyone about her insecurities but did it anyway.
and many many more innate things that actually have meaning, worth remembering, worth celebrating.

and now, for social media's part to play in all these.
social media, is a lie.
a lie because it commits the sin of omission.
do not be fooled by the picture perfect lives of others on instagram, facebook.
because, we go through a selective filter when we post things on social media.
for most people, we want to remember the happy, good stuff, and so we share those moments.
what we don't see is what goes on behind the scenes.
that perfectly tousled bedhair, seemingly sleepy but still gorgeous, unbloated face with zero blemishes?
may possibly have taken hours to prep, but makes you feel bad when you look at your own wakeup face, all bloated and eyebags and all, if you fell into the trap of comparing your real life with a lie.

i know this piece may seem abit specific, choppy, incoherent and not catered to everyone but i'm piecing it together based on what i felt; my personal experiences.
so, yes, as of now, i can't say that i have learnt to accept myself, flaws and all wholly,
but i do promise that i will never stop trying.
and i hope that everyone who resonates with this post will never stop trying too.
it takes time, but i hope we'll all learn to love ourselves fully some day.

with much love,

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