15 Ways To Feel Beautiful In A World That Tells You You're Not

Society tells us we’re not enough. They tell us we’re too fat, too thin, not pretty enough, too loud, too quiet, too dark-skinned, too light-skinned, too wrinkly, too scarred. Society creates an ever-changing, unattainable ideal image that so many of us fight to become, but we always fall short.

What are society’s beauty standards?

Society tells us that in order to encompass beauty, we must follow its guidelines and rules. We must appear happy and exude confidence and a “go with the flow” attitude in our social media photos.

We must exemplify perfection through our skincare routines, makeup regimes, outfit selections, and self-care practices.

Every detail of our image must be meticulously hypercriticized in order to represent the standard of beauty society has set for us. We can’t let anything slide; we can’t give ourselves grace for being human.

What’s wrong with society’s beauty standards?

The ideal image society issues us is flawed. Flawed because not only is the image carefully finetuned and photoshopped with filters and coverups, but it is simply unrealistic. The beauty standards society attempts to convince us are the norm are laughable at best, due to their extreme nature.

The people in control, advertisers, marketers, celebrities and models, influencers and internet sensations, tell us that we need to look a certain way, act a certain way, spend our money on certain things, and live our lives a certain way in order to be enough, in order to be beautiful.

Our self-esteem and self-worth are held in the hands of these people, of society as a whole. We are sheep following the herd, following the rules, following the beauty blueprints society has laid out for us.

We are told to splash our lives on social media accordingly, as long as we fit into the standards deemed desirable and appropriate by society. Achieve the beauty standards, and only then are you allowed to live your best life. Only then can you reach your highest potential.

The problem here is not us. We are simply doing what we’re told will bring us happiness. We’ve bought into the lie that the right brand of makeup, the right highlights and haircut, the right style and brand of clothing, and the right Instagram filters and hashtags will bring us a perfect life.

This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

What does it mean to be beautiful?

True beauty is not the shallow beauty sold to us by society. True beauty is not found in money, material things, and hours spent toiling in front of the mirror. Regardless of what society may be impressing upon you, this is not the truth.

True beauty is embracing who you are, the characteristics of yourself that make you unique and identifiable, and accepting your features and qualities exactly as they are.

True beauty comes with self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance. Everyone is born beautiful in their own way, but sometimes, in order to feel beautiful, it takes time, intention, and care.

There are things you can do daily that help you see and embrace your beauty, and steps you can take to welcome the idea that you are, in fact, beautiful, regardless of what society says.

Here are 15 simple ways to feel beautiful in a world that tells you you’re not. 

1. Make a list of your favorite physical attributes

Even if this may seem shallow to you, do it. Beauty is not everything, but in the world we live in, life is more manageable if you feel comfortable in your skin.

Spend some time exploring your face, your body, your features. Everyone has attractive qualities about them, so find the ones that stick out to you. It could be your eyes, your skin color, your hips, your shoe size, whatever it is about yourself that you find physically appealing.

Make a physical list of these things and write next to the item what it is you find alluring about it. This is a great way to remind yourself that there are in fact beautiful physical qualities about yourself, and you can reference this list when you’re feeling bad about your appearance like we all do from time to time.

2. Pick your number one favorite and focus on it

From your physical features list, pick your absolute favorite. You’re allowed to have more than one favorite thing, so don’t be too nitpicky in narrowing your list down.

On days you’re feeling less than beautiful, give attention to your favorite physical part of yourself. Remind yourself that there are beautiful qualities about you and focus on the parts that you find attractive.

If you’re in need of a self-confidence boost, play up the feature you admire most. If it’s your eyes, put on a complimentary shade of eye shadow or go full out with a smokey eye. If it’s your waist, wear a crop top that makes you feel comfortable. If it’s your freckles, go without foundation for the day. Play up your favorite features in a fun and warm way.

3. Make a list of your least favorite physical attributes (stay with me on this one) 

This may sound strange, and that’s okay. We all have parts of ourselves that we don’t particularly like. We judge ourselves harshly at times, and we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the parts of our body that are less than acceptable in our eyes.

Make a list of all the things you dislike about your physical appearance. However, instead of trying to change or alter them, think about how they improve your quality of living.

If you hate your legs, on your list, include the things they do for you. They allow you to move from place to place, they give you the strength to run, they provide you with the ability to jump up and down, and they empower you with the ability to dance when you’re feeling joyful.

On your list of least favorite attributes, write next to the feature all the positives they bring you. You may not like how it looks, but it surely brings you comfort and stability in life. You may despise your eye color, but at least you’re not blind; you have the ability to see the color in your eyes.

4. Think about what qualities make you, who you are

Beyond your physical appearance, cogitate on the aspects of yourself that make you who you are, the things you believe define you, and your personality.

This could be your witty sense of humor, your loud and boisterous laugh, your ability to empathize with anyone, or your tendency to make lists for everything.

Ponder these things and celebrate them. You have substance; you are a human being who brings so much to the table. You are unique, you bring your own individual quirks to the table, and you offer the world your own eccentric spice. Embrace what makes you, you.

5. Follow diverse accounts on social media 

Scroll through the accounts you’re following on your social media platforms and take an inventory. Are you only following fitness accounts? Are you strictly focusing on accounts promoted by society’s ideal image of beauty? Are your followed accounts all white women with thin waists and big curves, perfect hair, and pristine makeup?

Check yourself. If you’re only exposing yourself to a certain type of beauty, you’re limiting your ability to recognize beauty in other forms, including yourself.

Add diversity to the accounts you choose to follow. Include people of different ethnicities, body sizes and body types, genders, interests, and lifestyles. Broaden your horizons and expand your idea of what it truly means to be beautiful; don’t limit yourself to what society demands.

6. Limit social media use as needed

Even if your feed is diverse, you may need a break from social media from time to time because, on social media, people tend to post the very best about their lives.

Very few people are inclined to post the lows they hit, the difficulties they face, the trauma they’ve experienced. They don’t want to admit that their lives are less than spectacular. They don’t want the world to know they might not have everything together.

Instead, we scroll and see blindingly white and sparkly smiles, bright rays of sunshine, clear blue waters, and thin and tanned bodies in immaculate clothing.

Suspend your time on social media if needed. Temporarily delete your apps if you can’t keep yourself from checking them or set a timer for yourself if you decide to scroll through Instagram, limiting your usage to a certain time limit. Protect yourself and your self-esteem by limiting the amount of false perfection you’re witnessing on social media.

7. Unfollow any account that makes you feel bad about yourself

No matter how much discernment you use when it comes to the accounts you follow on social media, there will always be a profile that makes you feel bad about yourself.

These accounts don’t deserve your time and energy. If someone is posting things that make you doubt your worth and value as a person or create a sense of uncertainty about whether you’re truly beautiful, just unfollow the account.

It’s not worth it to follow someone who damages your self-esteem, regardless of the quality of their content. If you find yourself comparing your beauty to that of another, unfollow the account, block the account, do whatever you need to do to remove the account from your feed.

You deserve to see things that bring you joy and make you happy. Unfollow the account and fill that space with some of Instagram’s cutest cats.

8. Find a beauty regimen that works for you

In order to embrace your beauty, you need to wear as much or as little makeup as you want. Whatever makes you feel beautiful, do it.

If you’re not used to wearing makeup but enjoy putting it on, appreciate how it enhances your favorite features, and have fun playing around with different colors and textures, explore the makeup world a little more and find what makes you feel good.

However, if you truly appreciate your natural beauty but are prone to wearing a full face of makeup to cover up and perceived flaws, go a day without wearing any and see how it makes you feel. You never know; you could feel your most beautiful without a drop of foundation, without a coat of mascara.

Whether it’s a full face of makeup or a completely naked face, or even just the bare minimum of mascara and lip gloss, pick what makes you feel your best and go with that.

9. Move-in ways that feel good to you

Exercise and movement make you feel happy. Serotonin rushes through your body and is released when you exercise in a way that brings you joy.

Find a form of movement that makes you feel strong and capable and include it in your regular routine. This could be taking ballet or contemporary dance classes, rock climbing, jogging through a park, jumping rope, using a Stairmaster, lifting weights, or swimming; anything you’re able to perform in a way that makes you feel the most like you.

Spend some time trying new things and explore different forms of exercise until you find what brings you joy. Confidence stems from cheerful movement, and this will contribute to your sense of beauty.

10. Repeat affirmations daily

Positive affirmations make a world of difference when it comes to loving yourself and embracing your true beauty.

Come up with a few affirmations that you feel strongly about. This could be anything from, “I am beautiful every day,” to “I am beautiful even if I’m wearing sweatpants.” Have fun with it but choose some affirmations that make you feel truly beautiful.

Remind yourself of these affirmations on a daily basis, and even when you’re not feeling beautiful, eventually the affirmations will become part of your regular talk track and you’ll start to believe it even when you’re feeling doubtful.

11. Spend less time in front of the mirror

It’s important that you feel beautiful, but it’s not necessary to stand in front of the mirror for an excessive amount of time. This often leads to obsession over certain parts of yourself that you wish to change, parts of yourself that you deem less-than.

Mirrors aren’t always honest with us. You could put your favorite outfit on and feel absolutely weightless and lovely, and then glance at yourself in the mirror, realize you’re having a bad body image day, and then decide to put on something baggy and shapeless to hide your figure.

If mirrors are triggering for you, limit yourself to a few minutes of mirror time in the morning to ensure your makeup is clean and your outfit is in order for your day’s planned activities, and move on. Don’t linger.

If even the bare minimum of mirror time is upsetting to you, write your beauty affirmations on post-it notes and stick these to your mirror. That way, when you’re feeling down about yourself, you can see, “I am beautiful every day” and remind yourself that you truly are beautiful because you’re you.

12. Spend more time doing what makes you happy

If you’re spending the majority of your time doing things that make you happy, then you’ll be less focused on any negative thoughts you have about yourself. You won’t be paying so much attention to any self-deprecating thoughts if you’re immersed in your activities.

Whatever it is that brightens your day, brings you a smile, and makes you feel light and carefree, do that thing. Do more of it, do it as often as you can. It’s a good distraction from negative thoughts, and it’s a confidence builder. Confidence enhances the beauty you already have within you.

13. Wear colors that bring you joy

If bright colors lift your mood and make you feel happier, wear them. If black and white spark joy for you, wear them. If loud patterns and design cultivate jubilation, wear them.

If you typically steer away from bright and cheerful colors or patterns due to a lack of confidence in “pulling them off,” erase that worry from your mind. If neon yellow makes you feel euphoric, buy a pair of neon yellow shoes and wear them whenever you feel like it. If plaid makes you feel most like yourself, wear that flannel when you need to add some spice to your day.

Clothing has a powerful impact on us and our moods. If you find certain colors or designs that you feel enhance your personal beauty, bringing out your favorite features, and most importantly make you smile, wear them to your heart’s content.

14. Hang out with people who recognize how amazing you are

Hanging out with people who see you and your beauty for what it helps you see and recognize your own beauty from a different perspective.

Your friend may appreciate your beauty through your effervescent laugh, or through the sparkle in your eyes, or from the way you gracefully carry yourself. These are things you don’t necessarily perceive because you’re not seeing yourself the way they see you.

Friends aren’t your friend because you’re beautiful. Friends are your friend because you make them feel good, they enjoy being in your presence, and you enhance their lives. If they’re truly a good friend, they couldn’t care less if you have makeup on or not.

Allow yourself to spend more time with people who value and cherish the inner beauty you bring to the table, and this will make you that much more aware of how beautiful you truly are.

15. Accept yourself as you are

The number one, most important thing you must do in order to feel truly beautiful is to accept yourself just as you are. Embrace the temper of your voice, acknowledge your curve-less or overly curvy body, accept your stretch marks and scars, welcome your freckles and moles and discoloration.

You are beautiful exactly the way you are at this moment. Don’t allow anyone or anything to convince you otherwise. You believe the things you tell yourself, so in a world that tells you you’re not beautiful, challenge that. Tell yourself the truth; you are a stunningly, perfectly, immaculately beautiful human exactly the way you are. Embrace it.

woman smiling, wearing a flower crown
Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash
Eden is a 26-year-old Aries who loves learning and exploring mental health, self-love, self-care, and eating disorder recovery.

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