Over the past nine months or so, I’ve struggled a lot with my physical appearance. I know I don’t get personal on the blog very often, but after a bit of consideration I felt that this was an important subject to bring up. In a world and industry that’s so inundated with the need and desire to appear attractive, it’s easy to get caught up with and put an unhealthy emphasis on the outside – and often without second thought. And so, here’s a break from the regularly scheduled, light-hearted personal style posts for some musings of the heart.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever been overly obsessed with my appearance by any means, but this year I realized how much it’d innately become part of my identity. Although my self esteem has been pretty healthy since I graduated high school, this year I’ve learned that a lot of it was actually grounded in looking a certain way (and this blog likely had a role in that). But recently, due to a combination of aging and perhaps just not taking very good care of myself, I’ve been forced to think differently. Challenged with a bit of weight gain, hormonal acne, new wrinkles, and eye health issues that have required me to wear glasses instead of contacts, I’ve honestly become accustomed to simply feeling unattractive most of the time.
To say that this has been inconsequential for my life would be a lie. Part of the struggle has been the real need to come to terms with getting older and not looking the same way that I did in my early 20’s. Lots of things don’t come as effortlessly anymore, and aspects of my body that I took for granted in earlier years have inevitably faded.
Through it, I’ve been forced to embrace the fact that a woman’s beauty does not primarily come from her physical appearance (big shoutout to my incredibly patient and loving boyfriend for consistently reminding me of this through my tears of frustration). And while I’ve always known that to be true in theory, seeing it play out in my own life has been highly arduous and incredibly beautiful at once. I’ve had to ask: what does it really look like to not place any of my value on how I look? Although it hasn’t been fun, being able to work through this issue head on – instead of trying to revert back to the past – has been a huge gift.
I’ve also been reminded that even as I age, I do have the important role of taking good care of myself. And for me, that means sleeping at a decent time, eating healthily (seriously hard for a carb and refined sugar addict!), exercising regularly (probably the hardest for me), and journaling my thoughts and prayers daily.
Obviously, it seems like such a first world problem to even have the luxury to contemplate this. And as I write this to you, I’m still in the midst of the struggle and probably will be to some degree for the rest of my life. I don’t really have any answers, but I do want to open up a conversation and share some of my personal challenges with beauty and appearance this year. I’d also love to know: how have issues with physical beauty played out in your life? Please do share in the comments below, or in an email if you prefer!
A special thank you to Darcy’s Cafe for providing the delicious food and location for this post.
Photos by Paul Milaire
Edits by Brian Chan