I’ve always believed physical flaws are like mosaic pieces. Individually, they might look a little uneven and out-of-place. But when put together, every piece makes art… sometimes a masterpiece. How do we accept our physical flaws in a society reaching for perfection?
The word ‘flaw’ in itself is misleading. It’s an imperfection claimed by society. You don’t think your nose is big until someone tells you, or your hair looks great until an advert exclaims it needs more volume. There’s no real truth: every imperfection is just an opinion a person has formed and believed. So, for every person thinking one body is too curvaceous, small or short, another believes it’s perfect.
I know scientific research suggests humans are attracted to specific symmetry, yet some studies also note we’re attracted to people who share similar features and genes. I believe most of us are conditioned to follow media ideals though; paying too much attention to adverts.
Although everyone has their own beauty ideal, countries also behold a favourable aesthetic. For instance, we stereotype the French as loving simplicity and believe Brazilians adore sun-kissed skin. As social media is global, it’s collectively put billions of us together and chosen one Instagram look for us all to follow. This is arguably damaging our self-esteem because we’re losing identity trying to represent one ideal. How can people across the world all look the same?
When you don’t love your imperfections
Insecurity creates low self-esteem and a sense of idolisation. Disliking your appearance often leads to over-admiration for others – others who we believe are ‘better’. Psychology Today discusses how feeling bad about yourself can actually be comforting; a familiarity that becomes habit. And I notice this occurs often, when we feel afraid to make change. It’s easier to tell ourselves we’re failures who can’t achieve our goals, rather than take a leap of faith.
Should Physical flaws be changeable?
Some physical flaws (like acne scars) have a cosmetic cure. Whereas others (like my large forehead) are with us for life. In theory, some flaws can and should be worked on. A spiteful tendency and quick-tempered rage for example, isn’t healthy to embrace.
I’m not against plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as I understand we may feel a flaw affects our confidence. With that being said, flaws will always be with us. A plastic surgeon cannot produce a flawless canvas. You can take the best eyes, lips and cheekbones in the world, put them together and still find fault. Physical flaws can modify (providing you adapt them for yourself), but the term never quite leaves a human.
Take a step back
It’s easy to objectify and blow micro-issues out of proportion: that spot on your chin – is a spot on your chin. To you it’s a spot invading your entire face and making you look like a Dalmatian. Kendall Jenner has been photographed several times with spots, as have many other stars over the years. Cameron Diaz famously suffered from severe acne and still found success as a model – once labelled the highest paid Hollywood actress.
Let your physical flaws empower you
Only recently, I have begun to accept my scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Because I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me, I never expressed sadness towards the condition. I always made my spinal surgeries sound fascinating and exciting. Every year in high school, I went to hospital for more operations and post-recovery. I made it sound as though I was fighting a battle and yearly winning the war.
After my final operation, my surgeon said, “That’s it, you’re recovered”. I got on with my life not knowing what to do. My hips are uneven (visible if I didn’t angle them in photos), my back is not completely straight, and there are two permanent scars across my spine.
When I was pursuing modelling, no photographer captured photos showing my back. That was until one particular studio shoot. Photographing me in a bikini, I had my back to the camera as I tilted my head to the side. Although it’s not my favourite photo, the image reminds me to feel good about my scars and body. If you can find strength in your flaws and see an empowering story behind them, you can likely begin to feel better.
Go behind your history
I adore photo albums. I love trying to recognise what similar features I share with relatives. My grandma I discovered, has my face shape – one I’ve spent years wishing to change. How I dreamt of having chiselled cheekbones and a defined jaw. Only, I would then stop looking like her.
We all have interesting stories and people from our past. We’re beyond unique! And for each man and woman who married and fell in love with a person to help create your family’s generations, they potentially fell in love with the very traits you hate.
Focus on what you do love
One birthday, I was given the book Seeds for the Soul. It’s become my bedside table inspiration, whenever I feel confused about life, uncertain, sluggish or insecure. In one chapter, the book discusses feelings, noting we’re usually more troubled by how we think we should be feeling as oppose to the feelings themselves. For example, when going through a painful breakup, your sadness may turn to anger at still having feelings for your ex. The book suggests we ought to ride out our emotions and take them for what they are. And that’s the attitude I believe people should have with their looks.
To focus on your best traits, why not write down all your positive physical attributes, including traits that others have complimented you on? There’s no shame in loving your appearance; it’s not a crime show kindness to yourself. And if a loved-one or stranger on the street deserve your kind words – so do you.
What are your favourite features? How do you accept your flaws? Would you consider plastic surgery?
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