Beauty, Lookbook

I brainwashed myself into believing I am beautiful

Each week, my inbox is filled with emails from girls who all ask the same thing: "how can I become more confident in myself and the way that I look?"

Each week, my inbox is filled with emails from girls who all ask the same thing: “how can I become more confident in myself and the way that I look?”

Garnering the confidence to be a “plus size” model or an ambassador for a brand that promotes a healthier, more diverse image was not the insurmountable feat than it might seem to most. In actuality, once I surrounded myself with the right people and images, loving myself and my body came naturally.

The first thing I do for these girls who write me is to drive home not just how ridiculous our nature to compare ourselves to other people is, but I also try to highlight the often overlooked and very real fact that beauty is subjective. It was only in understanding just how varied and diverse forms of beauty are out there that my confidence in my own differences grew. It made me stand proud rather than cower in fear of being called “ugly” or “fat”.

We are all our own biggest critics – it is true, but beyond that, our ideals are also shaped by the world we see around us. We don’t just wake up one day and decide that feeling confident, sexy, and worthy of love is a class of experiences only deserved by a few elite. Instead, we have learned over decades of being fed streamlined images exactly that which we are supposed to find beautiful. When I came to this realization about four years ago, I made it my personal goal to de-brainwash myself of unrealistic standards. I embarked on a complete media detox. I un-followed, unfriended and unsubscribed from all the media outlets that were feeding my inferiority complex – this was the key to my beginning to feel more confident.

It was only in understanding just how varied and diverse forms of beauty are out there that my confidence in my own differences grew. Click To Tweet

Changing the way I felt about my body wasn’t just about unfollowing certain companies, brands and celebrities on social media, it was also about following the right ones. I figured that if the media is so powerful at conditioning us to unrealistic images, then surely, the same power could be exploited to condition us to a more achievable and inclusive standard of beauty. It wasn’t an immediate change though, it took me months to properly detox and retrain my brain, but eventually, I began to change my thought patterns and taught myself to consume a different type of image – one that was more like me.

I embarked on a complete media detox Click To Tweet

When we realize that no one, not even supermodels, look like supermodels, it is a lot easier to come to grips with the fact that we will never look like the images we see on television or in magazines. I work in entertainment, which is often an aspirational medium, but I am able to separate what is real from what is not, and I could not feel more empowered.

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I wrote in a recent article about the importance of seeing examples of ourselves in the media, and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this newfound body-positive revolution. Through my writing and my modeling, I am able to align myself with brands and people who share my vision, and together, we are helping to saturate the market with more size-inclusive and diverse imagery.

The world around us is filled with so many real examples of beauty and no two are alike. Click To Tweet

I think now, more than ever, we have access to such a vast array of beauty from around the world that we needn’t just seek it out from one source. If I were to constantly compare my looks to the tall, slender and fair skinned model, sure, I’d be in a pretty disappointed place. It was the most sobering realization when I came to understand just how ignorant and narrow-minded I was being in my perception of beauty. Therefore, I always encourage my followers, like myself, to consume media from outside Western culture. The world around us is filled with so many real examples of beauty and no two are alike. After all, the women we love – our mothers, sisters, friends, and wives look absolutely nothing like anyone in the media.

Aren’t they the most beautiful women of all – inside and out?

There are more than 7 billion representations of beauty in this world, never forget that you are one of them. Click To Tweet

If we can see so much beauty in others, why not in ourselves?

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I don’t think I am beautiful, because I think supermodels aren’t; I think we are all beautiful in our own way. I would be amiss to say that looks don’t matter – because they do – but they are only a part of the package, and it is a package that has endless possibilities and many facets. So to build upon on Anita Roddick’s sentiments, there are more than 7 billion representations of beauty in this world, never forget that you are one of them. Expand your sense of beauty and open the bounds of what you consume to include the contents of the globe rather than the contents of a magazine.

You just might see yourself reflected back.

Jenny Alexander

Jenny Alexander is a published South Asian writer, model and entertainer living in Toronto, Canada. She studied English literature at the University of Toronto and began her career life writing for the theatre. Later performing improv at The Second City and being a huge advocate for the representation of diversity within the media, Jenny often uses humour to shed light on some of society's more weighty issues.

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