Images of Self-Image

You are kind. You are beautiful. You are loved.

How often have we heard those words? Is it once a day? Once a week? Once a month? Maybe we’ve heard them and nodded and said thank you, but not really registered them. Maybe because deep down we believe they aren’t really true.

How come others see beauty in us when often times, we fail to see it in ourselves?

The first day of middle school dawned bright and clear, and I was all ready to go with my first day of school outfit. You know, the one you spend hours laboring over to determine what kind of new “image” you want to have. I had finally chosen the perfect combo, a red shirt with decals (hello early 2000’s), and a cute skirt. Or so I thought.

I was so confident walking in to the building that day, fresh from a wonderful summer, and ready to meet my match.

What I wasn’t expecting was a swarm of buzzing, pretty girls and popular boys running about in fashionable clothing and chatting happily among themselves. The second thing I registered was that I was short. Too short. As if everyone else had grown over the summer except for me. At that rate, I could practically shove myself in to the lockers.

It was that moment for me when I really started to look long and hard at who I was. I had braces, I was small, I didn’t wear the popular brands of clothing, my hair was just starting to curl awkwardly, and I was smart. Not the play-it-dumb kind of kid that seemed to somehow be excelling at what they did-gaining friends.

It was a pretty frustrating and heartbreaking moment when I realized I didn’t really fit in.

My own self-image started to crumble, and it would take several years to finally feel confident in myself and who I was, but those moments I still remember clearly.

I think it is safe to say we have each had those moments when we don’t fit in to a place. We’ve had those moments when we walk confidently in to a situation, only to realize the reality of the situation meets nothing of our expectations and we walk grimly back out.

And we’ve most likely had those moments when we feel we don’t even compare to the beauty around us. There are moments, where we only see the “beauty” of the surface. The clothes, shoes, hair, makeup of what seems to be a very serenely perfect life.

In Middle School, I kept thinking that if I only wore the name brands of clothing that the other popular kids wore, I would feel so much better. People would talk to me more, I could even start being more confident because I would have better looks.

I have to laugh now, because I know that isn’t exactly true. Although I ended up convincing my Mom to let me buy the more expensive name-brands, I was really gaining confidence because I found my voice. When I had the realization of being able to stand up and talk about what was really bothering me, and actually talking to the “popular” kids, I was able to be more of who I was.

Even though middle school is long, long gone, I feel I still have growing left to do. I still see images of the perfect life, and clothing, and makeup, and this image of what my perception is of the picture perfect life, before remembering that that is all it is…a picture.

We are exposed to thousands of images each day. It’s almost as if Social Media is imposing this idea of who we are “supposed” to be. Whether we stop and stare at each picture, oogling over perfect hair and makeup or we just scroll by each picture, sometimes it’s good to remember that those pictures don’t always tell the whole story. There’s more than just the surface.

It’s also so good to remember that you don’t have to be like the women you see in those pictures. You don’t have to wear your hair like that or do your makeup like that. You don’t even have to run around and take pictures.

All you need to do is to be you.

Look for something good in yourself each day. Focus on that one good feature until you feel like you’re more confident in yourself.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful. You are kind. You have a huge heart, and you care about so many wonderful things in the world. And most importantly, you are a true gift to others around you.

Caitlin is one of the Content Writers for Tribe Twenty One. She is a recent graduate from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with a degree in Elementary Education, and currently works as a 5th grade teacher. In her free time she loves to ski, run, and read.

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