A piece on how perpetuating beauty standards are a significant detour in our self-esteem journey.
Growing up, I had always seen my mother look in the mirror with disdain, as if she was disappointed in what she saw reflected back rooted in childhood experiences where she felt like an outsider because of her looks and body type. But to me, my mother is the most beautiful woman alive. Her smile lit up a room, and her laugh filled it with joy.
I never understood why she couldn’t see herself through my eyes, instead believing that her looks were a source of shame. Little did I know then that this belief had been passed on from generations before — an ancestral curse of sorts — one which seemed determined to follow me too. Because we are multi-racial, curvy, and off standards, we were forced to believe that we should put more resources and time into our looks, like beauty is a choice and a reward of an insane discipline that enslaves us our entire lives and following a norm is obligatory. That belief was a burden in my family through several generations: not just my mom, but her mom and her grandma felt that way because it’s how the system needs us to feel to profit.
As I grew older, I started to feel less confident about myself when I looked in the mirror, too, seeing more flaws than beauty staring back at me like a stranger’s reflection rather than my own self-image. After the internet entered my life, my insecurity went off the charts. It made me feel helpless, as if some invisible force was guiding how others perceived me based solely on my exterior appearance rather than who they’d get to know if they took the time to look beyond physical features alone.
But slowly, over time, with lots of patience, therapy, and effort (and not without tears), I began to piece together fragments of self-love until gradually forming an image that felt much closer to home: imperfectly perfect just like all else around us here on earth is meant to be! Now when looking into the glass panes each morning, instead of feeling wrong about what stares back at me; now only peace can be found beneath those curved surfaces… And newfound acceptance for myself and those who have gone before me too!
I will always look up to my mother, I just wish she had the same tools I have right now to overcome this limiting belief, and I will always encourage her to keep trying.
Let’s take the time and resources we spend paying for hour-long skincare routines, alternative gyms, researching cosmetic procedures, and torturing ourselves and shift them toward our mental health. Self-love is not a destination; it’s a path. Let’s go together?
Carolina Bradilli is a Creative Entrepreneur and founder of SMC Creative House, obsessed with equality and breaking systemic barriers for minorities like herself. She is also very imperfect but always tries her best.