This video says it all:
I definitely questioned my appearances growing up--first of all, I wasn't White like most of the other girls. I remember being told that I looked a lot like my grandpa from my dad's side, and didn't really know how to feel about that. I was scrawny, wearing mostly whatever my sister would pass down to me, and did whatever I could to fit in with everyone else. Those years were rough. When middle school rolled around though, I felt like I turned a new leaf. I met some really great people, and felt confident in who I was as a person. I discovered I had a lot of hobbies and interests, and that if I did the things I loved, I would have tons of chances to meet other people who did the same thing--I was right.
High school was pretty solid, but was rocky on a few occasions. I'd had someone tell my I would be pretty if I didn't have such big lips. I had someone else tell me I was good looking...for an Asian. Hell, I even had someone tell me I would be good looking if I wasn't Asian. I was really lucky to have built a pretty solid foundation in middle school to recognize that these people's opinions didn't matter. I mattered. I am a strong, capable human being, and it's nobody's place to determine my worth.
If I had thought high school had it's rough moments, college was even more of a challenge. I had a hard time finding friends that I had a lot in common with (I'm okay with that now because the friends I DID make are pretty awesome). I questioned myself over and over again, trying to meet people I could relate to, and eventually I did. I ended up joining a sorority, which could have been a terrible experience (since I joined one where the girls looked put-together at just about every moment of every day), but it wasn't. We had a guideline to follow called the four F's: food, fashion, fat, and fitness. These were topics that we, as a chapter, agreed to avoid talking about. It was put in place to be respectful of each other, and while every so often we would make jokes about it, it was one of the most respectful things I could imagine a sorority would put in place. People were kind, and not even close to being as critical as the nightmare stories I'd heard about sorority life.
Now onto post-college life, I'm happy. I'm happy with the way I look. The past year or two have been really good to me. I'm still not quite to where I want to be fitness-wise, but I'm stronger, fitter, and healthier than I've ever been. I'm okay leaving the house without make-up. I feel like I've managed to build my confidence up to a point where I know my own self worth, and do whatever I can to help others know theirs. I know too many beautiful women who do nothing but cut themselves down, and I would be a bad friend to let that continue.
Here's my challenge to you: grab a dry-erase marker. When you look in the mirror each morning, write down something you like about the way you look. At the end of the week, or even better--at the end of the month, read everything you've written and see how you feel. We're all beautiful people--we just need to focus on what makes us beautiful, rather than focus on the negatives.
What's your story? To the men out there, do you feel the same pressures to question your appearances? To the women out there, if you're critical about your own appearances, why?