Invariably, there will come times when you feel hideous. No matter how fabulous, vain and self-loving you are on normal days, those times will come. You’ll look into your mirror, horrified, and wish to crumble into a small pile of ugly dust.
It’s times like these where makeup transforms from an art form that celebrates the beauty of your face into a mask to hide its imperfections: we conceal the dark circles, put foundation over the “bad” complexion, and for the love of God, do whatever’s necessary to get rid of that enormous pimple, NOW.
Times like these sometimes last weeks, months, and years. Sometimes, “times like these” are all we’ve ever known.
We have a lot of solutions for improving long-term health for beauty’s sake, like making sure to moisturize our skin and eating lots of protein for our hair and nails. Sometimes, though, it’s good to slather a beauty mask on our minds to rejuvenate our concepts of self-worth; to give our positive emotions a co-wash every now and then to keep them voluminous and abundant. We should treat our emotional insides with the same attention and care that we treat our physical outsides.
Here are some tips to bolster your inner fortress of vanity so that these unavoidable, crappy times feel at least slightly less crappy the next time they roll around.
Ask yourself: to whom, or what, are you comparing your appearance?
Beauty standards are very interesting things in that they are both extremely personal in the way we internalize them, yet wildly generic and cultural outside of that. Be it subconsciously or consciously, we wind up comparing ourselves to our various ideals, whatever they may be and however closely they may follow the mainsteam.
If we really deconstruct beauty standards to the inherently subjective and culturally constructed things that they are--and no, I’m not interested in a spiraling evo-psych debate about symmetrical faces--it becomes glaringly clear, with time, that many of the things we learn to hate about ourselves are perfectly normal, perfectly beautiful things.
When you find yourself judging your appearance harshly, ask yourself what your beauty ideals are. If you don’t fit into your own concept of what beauty is, it’s your concept that need to be altered--not you.
Try not to project outside stresses onto your own self-worth.
It’s really easy to internalize outside stresses into both our worth as individuals and how we look. When that’s added to the fact that stress can often cause acne breakouts, it’s fertile grounds for seeds of self-criticism to take root.
The next time you notice that you don’t love yourself as much as you should, consider the other things going on in your life that may be affecting your mood. When life is hard enough on its own, try to give yourself--and your looks--a little more leeway. Take a bubble bath, listen to your favorite album, and take yourself out on a date. You deserve the TLC!
You are often your own worst critic.
No one has seen our faces and bodies as many times as we ourselves have, and it’s incredibly easy to hyper-scrutinize any perceived fault as a result. We have the entirety of our lifetimes to pick apart the parts of our appearances that we deem ugly, usually under the misconception that others will judge us based on how hideous we supposedly look.
The thing to remember in these instances is that many of the things that we’re self-conscious about--the shape of our cheekbones, the thickness of our eyebrows, rosacea and acne--are things that by and large barely register on other people’s radar. People are too busy going about their days to really sit and pay attention to what you consider the problem areas of your face.
Having said that, there are absolutely people who will go out of their way to make a comment about your appearance, often times with all the grace and sensitivity of an internet comment troll. I don’t want to pretend that douchebags don’t exist, because they do, and they absolutely suck.
When you hear those comments, and compare them to the things that you think about yourself, how similar are they? If you’d never think something so negative about yourself a day in your life, you have enviably stalwart self-love and, while I thank you for doing so, probably don’t need to be reading this article.
If your self-criticism is nigh indistinguishable from your grossest run-in with a rogue butthole--if you discover that you yourself are the nasty internet commenter on the online article that is your appearance--it’s time to thoughtfully re-assess some things.
Know when to ask for help, and know that asking for help is ok.
For some, the battle against our appearances is a lifelong, inborn thing that is almost impossible to shake, much less cure with a few suggestions from an article.
If you recognize yourself exhibiting symptoms of disordered eating or body dysmorphic disorder, it’s good to be honest with yourself about the reality that what you’re feeling may be much deeper than you, your appearance, or culture. It can be a scary thing to consider, but know that the way you feel now doesn’t have to be the way that you feel always, and asking for help from a therapist or therapy group can do wonders to helping you know that you’re far less alone than you feel.
Do you have an internal beauty regimen? What kind of things do you do for self-care?