Hello everyone! My name is Crystal and I blog over at The Happy Type, where I focus on encouraging and empowering women to live a life they want and deserve. I’ve never done a blog take over, so getting to take the reins of A Compass Rose is beyond rad. For my first blog takeover, I wanted to bring the issue of self-love up for discussion, because I know that it’s an issue that far too many women struggle with.
When I was younger, I used to look at the beautiful glossy images of supermodels inside of the fashion magazines at the supermarket. The women inside the magazines were beautiful, perfect, flawless and they all seemed to be living absolutely fantastic lives. I used to stand there and dream about the future, because I was certain that one day I would be one of them. I wouldn’t be a supermodel, but I was positive that I was going to turn into a beautiful woman, foot-loose and fancy free in the world. My belief that I would blossom into a beauty was absolute, or at least it was until the world had something to say about it.
I once spoke up in class that I was going to explore the world and go on adventures like the beautiful women in Vogue when a teacher asked what we were going to become when we grew up. I remember the look on my 3rd grade teacher’s face as they tried to make sense of what I was saying. “Like a model?” they asked gently. I laughed and meant to clear it up telling them, No, not a model. I didn’t want to be a model, just a woman. A beautiful woman. I never got my chance to reply, because my classmates all started to laugh at the idea that I could follow through on what I had shared. I wasn’t pretty and models were beautiful, what was I thinking? I was too fat, too short, too plain looking to be a model. My teacher silenced the students, but the damage had already been done, and I started to look at myself differently.
My 3rd grade experience was just the first of many events that started to chip away at the self-love I had once embraced so readily. Little-by-little the absolute believe in my beauty was damaged and ripped away from me by callous and casual comments by family, friends, enemies, the media, and those beauty magazines started to become painful reminders of my imperfections. I started to shy away from cameras, because I didn’t think I was pretty enough to have pictures taken of me. If a camera came out, I ran the other way and I was content to be BEHIND the camera, not in front of it. But something happened that began to change my relationship not only with photography, but myself.
About a year ago, I opened up a little vintage clothing shop, but I needed a model. I had recently moved to a new city and didn’t really know anyone to ask to model for my project, and that only left one option: I had to be the model. I can’t even begin to describe the apprehensive nature I approached my camera with. I knew what to do BEHIND IT, but what was I going to in FRONT of it? At first it was incredibly rough going, I used to take a whole mess of shots and delete them in frustration. I even cropped out my face in those first photos because it made them easier to put out there for the public.
But without my even noticing it, I started to see a beautiful woman. All those hours staring at photo after photo started to reveal things I loved about myself. I stopped seeing all the things that were wrong with me and started to see myself through new eyes, through a photographer’s eyes. My confidence grew not only in front of the camera, but in life. I stopped being so self-conscious because the camera had revealed what I had known all those years ago. I had become the beautiful woman I had anticipated as a child, and nothing would ever again shake my belief in my own beauty.
The reason that I share this is because I know that I’m not the only one to have struggled with self-love. I hope that sharing my own thoughts on self-love will help another woman think about how she sees herself and why. Every woman is beautiful and while outside influences can sometimes overtake us and change how we see ourselves, it doesn’t change the fact that you ARE beautiful You just have to remember to take the time to see it. Embrace yourself in all your imperfections, because that is precisely what makes you a beauty.
How do remember to see your own beauty? Has there ever been an instance in which you forgot your own beauty or was there a moment of clarity when you finally realized it? I know my own moment of came while I was sitting in front of my computer screen really looking at myself, and I’ll never forget the feeling of freedom that came when I truly saw myself.