In the first part of the article, I spoke about the avatars inherent to women’s objectification and man’s womanizing. Recently, I noticed an article title mentioning the statement of a Hollywood actress who was feeling disconcerted that facial plastic surgery trends don’t only flatten personalities, but also produce convulsive distortions of self-image. I will propose to focus on the means of building proper self-esteem as possibly close to who we really are.
Herbert Harris compiles, in The twelve universal laws of success, a series of laws which can ensure success in life. The first is the “law of thinking” and it directly concerns self-criticism and self-image. Or, as Harris states: “The way in which you see yourself will determine what you’ll get in life. The self-image is your concept of your own person. It is the mental and emotional representation that you grow in the field of conscience, referring to what you are and what you represent. The self-image is important because it represents the starting point for your life experiences”. What do we have here? A direct causality between the way you define yourself and the way your life develops. If we are constantly complaining about ourselves or if we feel like we don’t bring too much value, then very probably, we have convinced ourselves to go along with a series of failures. If you think you’re not able to do something, you will not succeed. This uncertainty caused by the incompatibility with the beauty standards aggressively promoted by media has serious repercussions on our self-image. For the simple reason that our body size or facial proportions do not fall under the current trends we profoundly implant in our subconscious the feeling of imperfection, which we then get to project on our entire human structure. Because we don’t look like Kate Moss or because we have stretch marks, our entire self-image gets to be dominated by the feeling of imperfection and inadequacy. For teenagers, the feeling is even more powerful.
In order to create a balanced and healthy self-image we need to abandon the unrealistic beauty standards and to understand that mass-media is actually selling an image, a projection which doesn’t match reality. More than that, the purpose is to sell an entire series of products, from cosmetics to fashion items, able to offer that Hollywood “look”.
Then, we must pay attention to the three factors determining self-image: thoughts and emotions we cultivate from the earliest age, the environment and the entourage. Let’s take them separately:
1. The emotions and thoughts you develop are those which ultimately will define your personality. Negative thinking, frustration, complaining, shame, feelings that you don’t deserve appreciation or love, all these negative emotions must be removed. Take time and meditate on yourself. If you fight this type of negative feelings, try to look beyond them, to identify the causes, the reasons that have led to these tendencies. As the author mentioned above was saying, “Self-image is developed based on these feelings and emotions, which will later be associated with thoughts. If the following years do not change them […] in a broader sense, they determine all life experiences”. So, once again, take action! Remove negative feelings and grow positive feelings for replacing these!
2. Environment: a house, respectively a tidy room can do wonders. Mess and dirt only highlight a destructive self-image. Tidy up your space and, step-by-step, you will also tidy up your life. In his study, Herbert Harris was very inspired when he remarked that, whether we want it or not, we take on a part of the traits of the environment we inhabit.
3. Entourage: Because we cannot conclude it better than that, I will directly quote Harris’ observations on choosing the friends we invest time and energy in: “you should join, first of all, those people who have the positive complementary traits capable to improve your image of yourself. Such associations will help you accelerate your personal evolution...”.
In conclusion, forget about the Barbie doll and the stereotypes imposed by media, and start investing in your development, for real. Discover who you are, and only after that will you know what you want from life and how to fulfil your objectives. Grow the positive features that you have.
Don’t focus on flaws, but on developing your qualities!
Ellen White writes about a type of “unfading beauty”: “The pure religion of Jesus requires of its followers the simplicity of natural beauty and the polish of natural refinement and elevated purity, rather than the artificial and false. God, who created everything lovely and beautiful that the eye rests upon, is a lover of the beautiful. He shows you how He estimates true beauty”. And where you can find that true beauty? In yourself! Be proud - because you are a child of God, you are part of His amazing creation.