Accepting yourself as the woman you are, in the body that God gave you can be more challenging than you’d think. From an early age, I can clearly remember looking through fashion magazines, comparing myself to the celebrities, even if they weren’t anywhere close to my age or appearance. I attempted to point out similar assets and traits that I could compare to celebrities, making me as similar to them as possible, and evidently making me as likable as possible to everyone around me. As I grew older, I’ve been compared to many celebrities, some I’m pretty sure I don’t even compare to at all. It began with Rooney Mara, Dakota Johnson, Carly Rae Jepsen and Zooey Deschanel, and somehow escalated to Anne Hathaway, Lady Gaga, and even once Amy Winehouse, during her sober years.

The older I got, the more pressured I was to look a certain way, or act a certain way, but I never seemed to abide by those rules. When everyone began to straighten their hair and apply makeup, I left my hair curly and my face clean– but soon caught onto the makeup bandwagon junior year of high school. I was told to continue with dance and not do sports because sports are for the boys, but just dancing was too girly, and I needed something more strenuous to stay fit and in shape. I was told to wear makeup, to appear attractive, but also told not to wear too much. So basically, wear makeup, but make sure it looks natural. I was told to be myself, but not too crazy and funny and loud and brutally honest… myself, but toned down a bit so I could impress others. Along with many other things I was told, I believe many girls can vouch for being told similar things throughout their youth.

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By the time middle school ended and my first year of high school was coming to an end, I had already experienced everything in the books– from bullying to name calling, growing and maturing, losing friends, and even the ugly and weird phase– I believed I was ready to take over the world. Not because I had grown to love myself completely, but because I was sick of being told how to act and how to look.

Throughout my life, I never once openly struggled with being confident– it just seemed to come natural. My parents raised me as an independent and confident individual, and always instilled in my brain that I was beautiful, probably because they had to. However, it was just enough to get me through life as a strong, self aware and self confident individual, but not enough to make me a cocky know-it-all individual. Even during times where I felt like I was being kicked down into the dirt, I still managed to fester up a smile on my face. Just because I was confident, and still am, doesn’t mean I am completely secure with myself however. I have a lot to work on, and I continue to work on myself every single day.

The fact of the matter is, you reach a certain point in your life, or maybe it’s just me, where you learn to stop comparing yourself to the people you’re surrounded by; in real life and in the media. Yes, you may look like a certain celebrity because of some of the features you possess, however you are not that celebrity. You are you. And many women seem to have a hard time grasping that.

For years I wanted to live the life of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, and envied every single outfit Sarah Jessica Parker wore, and every date she went on. I thought it was the life of Riley. Although I was aware that the show is fiction, that was the life that I desired the most. (I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to be a successful freelance writer in New York City?) Years later, I began to envy Dakota Johnson. Her bangs were always perfect, and even when they weren’t, she still looked beautiful. She was skinny, and tall, and had a quiet voice but such a loud personality. I soon came to the understanding that yes, my bangs can be perfect, and I can be a successful writer, but that is all on my own terms. I should not do anything, to be like a certain someone else. I should do everything for me, by simply being myself.

When things like this begin to get inside of your head, sometimes you find yourself going so crazy, that you actually begin to do things that the celebrity does. I’ve heard stories of my friends when they were younger, researching certain celebrities weights, just to make sure they were right around the weight they wanted to be. Weight never was a problem for me, but not because I have a super fast metabolism– it’s because I worked for it. I danced and participated in gymnastics my entire life up until high school, when I began participating in sports. I went to the gym and worked out on my own to maintain a toned, slim body type, because that’s exactly what I wanted.

I did, at some points, compare my body type to celebrities and fitness models, and wish I had abs like her, or less curves like her, and the like. But then I remembered,

“I am not that celebrity. I am not that fitness model. I am me.”

If you want to lose weight, do it for yourself. If you want to wear makeup, do it for yourself. For years I believed that when I wore my bangs down, I always needed winged eyeliner. (I used to tell my mom that I looked like a drug addict if I didn’t have eyeliner on with my bangs down.) The no eyeliner and bangs down look was something that took some getting used to for me, but I did it. Am I 100% comfortable walking out of the house with no makeup on? No, not at all. But do I do it? Yes. I push myself out the door with a big smile on my face and just do it.

Now, there is a difference between accepting yourself and letting yourself go, and accepting yourself and maintaining good care of yourself. I’ve heard horror stories of many girls and women who’s weight began to sky rocket when they entered a relationship. In a relationship, it’s only natural and healthy to be comfortable. However, how comfortable is too comfortable?

Anyways, being comfortable in your skin is exactly how you want to perceive it. For me, being comfortable in my skin, and being confident in my body is knowing I’m healthy, and happy. When I workout, or eat healthy, I feel good– and I am happy. When I am happy, I do happy things– hike, dance, run, paint, read, or even just relax. Happy and healthy is what makes me accepting of myself.

Self confidence is how you define it. Self confidence is being comfortable in your own skin, and accepting of your body and self. Self and body acceptance is a journey that women face every single day. Growing to be comfortable in your own skin is an ongoing challenge. However, it’s all about loving the skin you’re in, and realizing if you want to see change, you are the only one who can make change where change is needed.

Following the crowd and trying to compare yourself to others is ridiculous, because every single human being is different in one way or another. If there is a weight you’d like to achieve or a look you’d like to re-create, do it for yourself and not for the sake of anyone else. Continue this journey with an open mind and never lose touch with yourself. Work on being the best you that you can be. The journey never ends.

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