** Today's guest blog is written by Ashton Long, Founder of The Authentic Woman.
Insecurity is a common feeling most women face.
Whether it’s due to acne, cellulite, excess weight, not being able to gain weight, feeling too tall, having a weird smile or being too pale, we all face our own insecurities. We look at our bodies and nit-pick at every little thing that doesn’t seem to measure up to “perfection.” We judge ourselves by the standard presented through the media - the standard that only portrays one type of woman as beautiful. She’s the perfect height, just tan enough, has intense curves, a big butt, a super flat tummy and airbrushed skin. We are expected to live up to this one body-type, and when we fall short, we become so insecure about ourselves.
I vividly remember receiving a Victoria Secret magazine when I was in my freshman year of high school. Little 14-year-old me flipped through the pages swooning over the sparkly outfits, flashy smiles and perfect bodies. *Flat tummies, skinny legs, tan skin and flawless curves.* My response was this: “Man, I never realized that I was fat.” In that moment, I decided that I wanted to look like them. In fact, I needed to look like them in order to be considered beautiful. I stashed this book away in a safe place, and any time I would think about eating carbs or not working out, I would pull it out to get “motivated.”
When you try to make your body be something it never can be, you will always be disappointed.
I am short, my skin is pale, my thighs are thick and my tummy is a little-bit curvy. I deal with hormonal acne, I have cellulite and I don’t have all the flashy outfits. But you know what? Every single thing about my body is absolutely, utterly beautiful. If I’m judging myself by the standard in the VS magazine, then I will NEVER be good enough. But if I’m judging by the standard that says “Every single human being is beautiful,” then I will always measure up. I will always be good enough. The reflection I see in the mirror will always be beautiful.
The ultimate lesson is this: we have got to change the standard. Beauty is not one body type. It isn’t being skinny. It isn’t even being curvy. Beauty is the essence of a human life. It is found in our bravery to take risk, our vulnerability in relationships, and the breath in our lungs. And YES - it’s also found in the way our body carries us in strength and beauty. Here’s three ways to grow in body-confidence…
1 | Choose health over perfection… Especially in your fitness goals!
Let me preface by saying this: being fit, tone and healthy is AMAZING. I think we should all prioritize our health because this is the only body we have, and it deserves to be taken care of. So, I am in no way discrediting anyone’s fitness goals and aspirations or the people who are already completely content with their fitness level. That is wonderful! I am only suggesting that we shift our perspective around fitness.
As women, we have to stop making fitness about achieving the “perfect body.” We have to stop building our fitness and health goals on the weak foundation of looking like someone else, losing three sizes or having a bigger butt. We have to shift our perspective towards being healthy and feeling good in our own skin. It’s all about choosing health over perfection.
2 | Stop trying to be anyone but yourself. Cause you are pretty dang awesome.
Yeah, comparison. It’s a real struggle. We all know it isn’t beneficial, but we all know that it’s a real problem most women face. In the midst of trying to be someone else, we deny the world an honest experience with our truest self. And what a shame is that? We are each unique and unlike anyone else that’s walked this earth. So, we’ve got to actively pursue being our truest self because no-one else can accurately live that out.
Pro-tip: Consume content that encourages, inspires and empowers you to love your body well. If someone’s content makes you feel insecure, simply unfollow. When we get intentional about what we consume, we set ourselves up for success!
3 | Choose the standard you want to live by - an attainable one.
What society deems as “bad,” may in fact not be bad at all. When society creates a standard where success looks like being a millionaire, walking on the red carpet, having flawless skin, being the perfect weight and juggling multiple things at once so effortlessly, how can we ever attain success, beauty and cultural ideals?
We can’t. Not measuring by this standard.
When the media conveys that beauty is defined by the standard of perfection - one body type, edited faces, bodies and personalities - we get to choose whether or not we live by this ideal. We get to choose what standard we live by. And a big part of loving yourself is choosing what you will and won’t be measured by.
Women should never be measured by the shape of their body or the texture of their skin.
Women should be measured by attributes such as bravery, selflessness, courage, passion, heart, purpose, and authenticity.
Because your identity is not defined by what other people say. Your identity already lives inside of you. Your identity is strength and beauty.
Ashton is the founder of The Authentic Woman, a platform that empowers women to live authentically as themselves. She firmly believes that women have the power to shift culture, eradicate unjust standards and ultimately change the world. When she's not working with her soon to be husband, she is most likely sipping on a cup of local coffee, swooning over pottery or adding to her succulent collection."