Often we overlook or downplay our own beauty. We're far too busy criticizing ourselves, stressing over our flaws and comparing ourselves to other people. Read Know Your Own Beauty Part 1.

I wish I had understood my own beauty when I was 23. I mean really understood it.

I would certainly have appreciated it more.

I would have been a lot kinder to myself and my body. I wish I could have stood in front of a mirror, looked at myself and said ‘You are beautiful’ and actually meant it.

Instead, I was obsessed with my skin, spent hours torturing my hair and burnt myself to a crisp trying to get a tan.

Instead of appreciating my beauty, I was incredibly insecure about my looks.

When I looked at myself all I saw were flaws and what I thought I was lacking. Being skinny and flat chested didn’t help much either since I was teased for both.

Contrary to popular belief, being thin is not the be all and end all. Despite the fact that I have never had an eating disorder people often talked as if I did. Some people were downright mean and insulting.

Now that I have done a lot of growing up, thankfully I have grown into my own skin.

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Important Note – I am not a medical professional or trained therapist so if you are struggling with depression, an eating disorder or suspect you might be suffering from a mental illness, please contact a medical professional for help.

Here are my personal tips on knowing and truly appreciating your own beauty. This is part one of a three-part series so make sure you read the full series.

Don’t compare yourself to celebrities or models

When I was younger I bought a lot of modeling magazines. It was the 80’s, so think along the lines of Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and Linda Evangalista. These magazines were filled with gorgeous, beautiful women.

A friend asked me one day if I found them depressing. Oddly enough I didn’t.

I understood that what you see in photos is not how people actually look.

One of my favorite parts of the magazine was the center spread where they would have dozens of magazine covers of one particular model. I found it fascinating. The covers were taken from all over the world and were often incredibly artistic. What I loved about this section was how they could make the model look like a different person on each cover.  The makeup, clothes, lighting, exotic locations, not to mention airbrushing did the job (and this was before excessive Photoshop was used).

Now Photoshop is used on an epic scale. They can remove anything they view as an imperfection (or a whole limb if you like, I’ve seen plenty of magazine Photoshop fails) and make your skin look flawless, to the point where it looks more like plastic than actual skin. No lines, no skin folds. Nothing. Want a longer neck, higher cheekbones, wider face, smaller waist, bigger breasts – no problem

The other thing to remember with any celebrity is that they are selling a brand.

It’s their job to look a certain way and they often have personal trainers, nutritionists, make-up people, marketing types and a tribe of others to present them to the world looking a certain way. Add retouching to the mix and what you see is definitely NOT what you get.

That’s why celebrities without makeup stories are so popular, the media like to make celebrities and famous people look more human. News flash – they are human, just like you and me with different jobs. (I was going to write better jobs but I’m not fully convinced on that one).

We don’t just compare ourselves to celebrities.  We compare ourselves to the person standing next to us.

I hate to admit this but I used to have bouts of jealousy towards my beautiful female friends. Why couldn’t I look more like them I would think to myself? I cringe at the very thought of that now.

This sort of negative thinking ravages your confidence not to mention wreaking havoc on your relationships.

Of course, the crazy part of the story is that my beautiful friends were often crippled with their own insecurities about their looks. Like me, they rarely saw their own beauty.

Related content from the Know Yourself series – 

Embrace your uniqueness

I talk a lot about embracing your uniqueness on this blog. You will see these words scattered throughout a bunch of my other posts.

Why do I mention this so much? It’s because I’m passionate about people realizing their true potential and knowing how incredible they really are.

People don’t need to look like carbon copies of each other (how boring would that be?) and we don’t all need to fit into a certain mold.

Our uniqueness right down to the way we look makes us extraordinary – why would we want to throw that away to look like someone else or fit into a crappy stereotype?

The shape of your eyes, that lump on your nose, your smile, and the way you walk are all unique to you. Understand just how special and beautiful that is.

Related postWhy It’s Okay to Be Different

Stop the battle with the mirror

When I was younger I had one of those round makeup mirrors with two mirrors and a light. One side was a normal mirror, the other side magnified (which I now realize was an illuminated torture device for an insecure girl with bad skin). Not something I recommend.

Insecurity can make us look in the mirror too much. We scrutinize ourselves to the point of self-loathing.

I need to be blunt here. Stop scrutinizing yourself in the mirror. Stop picking out your flaws. Stop getting upset over every mark or blemish.

How is picking yourself to bits going to make you feel good about yourself? How is scrutinizing yourself going to make you happy?

It won’t – it will make you miserable.

There are a million other fun and amazing things you could be doing instead. Scrutinizing yourself is like any bad habit – you can stop and your first step is awareness and a willingness to change.

I see young girls on the bus constantly checking their makeup and making sure every hair stays in place. To be honest I was exactly the same at their age. You might spend an hour blow-drying your hair only to step out of the car and be caught by a gust of wind.  It’s not the end of the world. It’s just hair out of place and you still look beautiful.

Stop picking yourself to pieces and comparing yourself to other people and embrace your unique beauty.

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Read next – Know Your Own Beauty Part 2