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A message for young girls about self esteem and body image by Honor Newman

The teenage years can be a self- conscious time and we all want to look our best.  It also seems like the prettiest girls get all the fun, opportunities, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, invitations etc.

I agree that it is good to spend some time and effort on grooming and looking good. It can be really fun to read through fashion magazines and try out different looks. I still do and its one of my favourite things!

However when its stops becoming fun and starts being a constant stress or even an obsession then something has gone wrong. Worrying too much and obsessing over our appearance is a really miserable way to be.

And here’s the thing – other people notice a lot more about what is going on inside you than you might think.  You can’t cover these insecurities up with clothes and make up unfortunately.  How we feel inside affects the way we come across to others  and how they react to us.  People generally respond positively to positive, confident people and negatively to insecure, negative people.  It is that rule  – like attracts like!

Over my life so far what I have seen is that the girls and women that come across as the most attractive and receive the most – invitations, relationships, friends etc are the ones that know how to tap into their feminine/girl power – and that means having  high self -esteem.  As a rule of thumb most people generally find people with high self -esteem irrestistable.

So what is high self -esteem for a girl?  I believe it is a combination of qualities and actions.

Firstly, I think it is about looking after yourself in terms of eating well, exercising and saying no to things that don’t feel right. It is also about  supporting  friends when they are struggling,  giving compliments to others, having your own hobbies and fun things to do, being able to have some alone time and enjoy that, and having some goals you want to achieve in life that you work towards.

It is not about dropping everything to be with a potential love interest or saying nasty things behind people’s backs – they generally find out you know!!

The personality qualities that I think makes a girl/woman beautiful are:

Compassion: showing kindness to a person who is suffering.

Poise – good manners and good grooming. Staying calm and keeping a level head in stressful situations.

Mystery – not giving too much away too fast, before you know people well and not dumping every problem on people all the time. Intrigue and less information is very attractive.

Confidence – looking after yourself, not putting up with poor treatment from others and walking with pride.

Good health – radiating that healthy glow!

Intelligence – having your own mind and opinions about issues

Assertiveness – speaking up when you need to.

These qualities radiate an incredible glow around a girl that makes her extremely attractive to others. And the good thing is – they are in your power to work on.  You can give less away about yourself in the beginning of a relationship, you can hold off on having sex in a relationship for a while, you can cultivate your mind through reading books and current affairs and looking at the arts in galleries, plays etc  you can look after your health, you can show compassion to others. Your beauty is in your control.

What’s not attractive/beautiful:

Going along with the crowd no matter what,

not having your own mind,

gossip,

bitterness,

obsession with the superficial

I know you probably want to be the best looking girl in every situation but for 99% of us, there will always be someone better looking, so what about stepping out of the competition and loving the unique you? There is no one else like you and that is so special.

I wrote this letter to my 16 year old self to tell me what the now me would like to say to the then me. I thought I’d share it with you:

Dear me,

I know it’s a really tough time right now, you really like this boy but you don’t know if he likes you back. Your parents don’t understand you and other girls can be really mean.  But you need to remember that you are wonderful.  You have so many amazing qualities – you see people for who they really are and you have compassion for their struggles. Things that seem huge right now are either things you will get through and won’t mean anything in a few years or they will define you for life.  It’s all part of the experience of life.  And sometimes when things are tough it is just about putting one foot in front of the other and moving through the grey time until the clouds pass.

You are going to have amazing experiences in life with travel, university, lovers, and then you will get married and have beautiful children. They will be so beautiful they will make your heart explode and you will wonder how you existed without them.

 Yes there will be pain and heartbreak along the way, but so many of your dreams are going to come true because you are the type of person that has the courage to pursue them. Never forget you are unique and special to the world because of that. You have gifts to offer the world that no one else can offer in the same way, because they are not you.  You will meet people who can see the beautiful light in you and those are the people you keep in your life.  Those are the people that love you. Demand that others treat you with love and care.  That is the most important thing,  that self -respect.

 I love you,

 Enjoy the journey,

Love me.

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