This piece is by Alysia and was originally posted on Truly Beautiful Online.
Young women the world over spend hundreds of hours and millions of dollars scouring magazines and crowded department store beauty counters on their never-ending mission of conforming to the standards of beauty set by the fashion and advertising world. Although many cannot fathom this revelation – real beauty does not lie in a tube of lip gloss, or in any glamorous packaging for that matter. True beauty is a sparkle in your eye, a bounce in your step, a positive attitude, a healthy body and inner confidence that comes from knowing that you are a beautiful child of God (or whichever higher power you believe in). Although many people feel that when you look good, you feel good, I truly believe that most people have to feel good on the inside to be motivated to look good. The focus should be on your inner beauty before you obsess over your outward appearance.
Inner beauty is hard to achieve in this stressful world because of the demands of school, work, family and relationships. Today, young women feel pressure to reach the highest levels of success so that they can get a college degree and provide for their families one day. Young women of color have additional stresses because this country is not yet free of the shackles of ignorance, prejudice or sexism. However, in all cultures there are employers that tell us that we are not experienced enough, colleges that tell us we aren’t smart enough, men that batter our self-esteem, “friends” that do not have your best interest at heart and insecure people that try to bring us down to their level (better known as “haters”).
Although it is sometimes hard to realize, each and every one of us has the potential to reach the point of self-acceptance that comes with realizing that we are beautiful no matter what we look like on the outside (Yes, even on bad hair days, fat days and when you are rocking your rattiest sweats) and no matter what anybody else thinks about you.
Fight the stereotypes and images that have been subliminally placed in your head by Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Skinny can be beautiful, but it is not the only beautiful body shape. Hair in all textures and styles is beautiful as long as it makes you feel like your best you. Most importantly, all skin complexions are beautiful despite the centuries-long stigma and “colorism” that was planted within Black societies to tear us apart.
Fight the negativity that can surround and overtake you. Although the going may be tough, remember why you are working so hard. Make sure to set goals for yourself and follow through with each of them to the best of your ability, despite the people who tell you that it can’t be done. If you set your mind and heart to something positive, you will achieve success. They key is a mixture of believing in yourself, hard work, preparation, persistence and faith. Knowing that you posses boundless potential will give you inner confidence that shines through.
Fight the urge to sacrifice your needs to make other people happy. Young women tend to put others first neglect themselves for two main reasons. The first reason is that they have an insatiable drive for achievement. However, remember that you define your own success, not others. Another reason is that they have a fear of disappointing people. Learn how to say “no” and mean it. One person cannot do everything. There is only so much weight that you can place on your shoulders before you fall to your knees. It is key to remember that you can’t take on the burdens of other people, no matter how much you want to help, if you have not put your own life together first.
In addition, stress is not sexy. It is not the latest on the catwalks in Paris or Bryant Park. Proper planning and organization of your life can help you to achieve a proper balance and reduce the everyday stress in your life. You must make sure to plan time for eating healthy meals, sleep, exercise and “me time” each and every day between classes, work and other activities. Young women of the world, take note. You must invest time in yourselves. Take the time to develop a hobby, learn a language or read novels. There can only be one you, so make yourself the best that you can be.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but nobody on this earth can deny beauty of a person that emanates it from within.