I know all too well how easy it is to fall into the trap of self-criticism. Whether young or old, we often compare ourselves to others and forget to appreciate the way we were born and the things that make us unique. Let’s face it: Self love can be hard. Because this is something so many of us struggle with, I asked members of the CF community about how they’ve learned to love themselves and their perceived “flaws” over time. Keep reading to find out about the journeys these students have taken to achieve self-acceptance and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
“I carry a story wherever I go that shows my true strength.”
“I received a spinal fusion surgery in June that left a big scar running down my spine. At first, I was very nervous to wear shirts and bathing suits that showed it. One day though, I looked at my scar and saw how unique I am. I carry a story wherever I go that shows my true strength. Instead of hiding it, I decided to show it off for myself. It’s now a reminder of the things I can overcome. I am proud of my scar and I don’t mind who sees it.” — Carmen Amadia, Point Park University, class of 2020
“I skip foundation so I don’t cover them up.”
“When I was younger, I hated my freckles; all my friends had “clear” skin. I think seeing celebrities like Kesha and Emma Stone be unafraid to show off their freckles really opened the door for me to start seeing mine in a positive light. If they could still look gorgeous with freckles, then so could I. I started highlighting them with my makeup instead of trying to hide them, and now I can’t stand to hide my freckles. I’ve realized how beautiful and unique my freckles are, and I even skip foundation so I don’t cover them up.” — Claire Biggerstaff, Davidson College, class of 2019
“I didn’t have to do what I thought was the norm.”
“I used to hate my eyebrows—they’re thick, bold, and shapeless. I was insecure about them and always wanted to pluck them as soon as possible (which my mom hated). As I went into high school and the beginning of college, I got them threaded because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. After a while though, I really stopped enjoying the way they looked after being threaded and hated the process. I stopped doing anything to my brows about three years ago, and now I appreciate them so much more. Coming to the realization that I didn’t have to do what I thought was the norm was very freeing for me. Now, I think they’re one of the strongest features of my face.” — Marit Darrow, The New School, class of 2018
“I’m too busy laughing to even notice how I look.”
“When I was younger, I was always self-conscious about the way my face scrunches up when I smile. Family photos were my worst nightmare. I’m able to love and recognize that the reason my face gets like that is because I am smiling so big! I now realize that I should be living in the moment and staying happy always. Now, I’m too busy laughing to even notice how I look when I’m with my friends and family—and that’s all that matters.” —Shira Freiman, Temple University, class of 2020
“Instead of damaging my skin, I want to treat it well.”
“I used to hate my pale skin. People used to make fun of me all of the time for it. Instead of damaging my skin, I want to treat it well, because I’ve come to the conclusion I’d rather have healthy skin than damage it in a tanning bed. I’ve learned to love it and not worry about being pale in the summer. It’s something unique to me that I’ve grown to love about myself.” — Samantha Batterman, Liberty University, class of 2019
“My appearance is not a downfall.”
“My curves have always been something that I’ve found shame in. After suffering from an eating disorder and enduring sexual assault, I thought my curves were my downfall—an evil thing that I believed needed to be remedied by starvation, purging, and abusing my body. But now, as a survivor, a young woman in recovery, and a stronger human being, I see my curves not as a magnet for abuse or something ugly that needs to be destroyed. Instead, they’re beautiful, unique, and a part of me. My appearance is not a downfall, but an asset.” — Hannah Hofmeister, Lancaster Bible College, class of 2022
“No one else is exactly like me—and that’s good.”
“When I smile, one eye gets a little smaller than the other. I say ‘little,’ but it’s pretty noticeable, especially in photographs. I used to hate it and was always self-conscious about taking photos of myself, but I have since come to learn that is something that makes me unique and is part of who I am. I like that it makes my eyes stand out, and I have come to really love that part of myself. No one else is exactly like me—and that’s good. We are all different and made specially to be who we are. The sooner I learned that, the easier practicing self-love became.” — Jordan Miller, University of Alabama, class of 2018
“I’m finding reasons to love my body—not for my size, but for my strength.”
“In high school, I really struggled with my body image. After years of struggling with this, I finally learned to love my body for all the things it could do. I started getting more into running and fitness in general, and now, I’m finding reasons to love my body—not for my size, but for my strength.” — Lexa Krajewski, Boston University, class of 2019
Do you have a story about learning to embrace an insecurity of yours? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by @chllloewilliams.