Credit: Leonita*

Credit: Leonita*

There is an important project currently being run by Dove, the champions of beauty through their Real Beauty campaign, and it has touched me in a reflective way, inducing some well needed soul searching. At any age women grapple with issues around positive body image, beauty and gender stereotypes on a daily basis and in various forms. We think we are less than or not as good because we see airbrushed supermodels on the covers of magazines who have become the standard of beauty. We’ve stopped teaching ourselves to strive to be anything but ourselves.

You’ve probably seen some of Dove’s beauty campaigns helping women realise that real beauty is what matters. Now it’s time to talk to young girls and young women – who in  their growing years contend with some of the same body issues, albeit in a faster more connected and more expectant world than when I was younger.

The project, aptly called The Dove Self Esteem Project, is aimed at helping to dispel low self-esteem in young girls around the world by creating content for parents, mentors & teachers that empowers them to start conversations around body image, beauty, self-esteem and to re-establish or instil self-love in our young girls. I was asked to contribute to this project and while researching all the content on the user-friendly website –Self Esteem Project –  I was struck by how I didn’t have this sort of perspective or support for my self-esteem growing up. My only points of reference depended on the women in my family and magazines; which really didn’t represent me. There is a difference in how you feel about yourself as a 14 year old and when you are 30. There is something different about speaking to elders about sensitive issues that you think no-one actually understands. The thing about that adolescent age is that we simultaneously know-it-all and feel completely isolated by the things we think we know and no one else could possibly be experiencing. So I thought the best way to contribute in any valuable way to the project – and hopefully inspire you reading this – would be for me to reach back and speak to my young self and tell her everything is going to be alright. What better time than this season of reflection.

Five things I’d like to tell my younger self:

  1. Be Present

There’s always something to look forward to, plan for, strive for and this is a good thing. Sometimes we worry too much about what may or may not happen and we lose sight of what is happening right now. In all the things you want for yourself in life and everything you work for, you are not wrong, but you will sometimes forget to just be in the present moment. By being right where you are and absorbing everything around you and learning to feel what you feel in that very moment you teach yourself how to appreciate even the little things. You will want to “move on” when things are tough, I ask you to please allow yourself to be in that moment whether it is good or bad and fully experience it. You will teach your heart to laugh when it is light and be strong when it is dark. This is how you will be passionate about anything; being present.

2. Be kind

Even when you are angry, be kind. When you are happy, be kind. The thing about kindness is that no one can take it away from you. There will be times when someone upsets you, maybe hurts your feelings and because we are human and prone to lash out in these times, you may feel that you must retaliate. You are allowed to feel hurt and angry, but there will never be a need to be malicious to anyone (even if they deserve it). Remember to be kind not only because it is one of those things about your character that will be remembered and loved, will also feel better about it as the world turns because we receive what we put out. The world goes around with love and kindness.

3. You are always in season

I know that you wonder if you are good enough. Who told you that you are not? Tell them that the reason there are so many people is that we all bring our uniqueness into the world and we are each necessary. We cannot all be the same, otherwise what is the point? We all offer something specific and important to the universe and it is your job to be who you are at all costs. No matter what you look like, you are always going to be in season because you are you. You will sometimes feel a little low, but don’t let yourself get down; remember that you are necessary.

4. You are everything you believe

The saying goes; “if you think you can or you can’t, you are right”. It may sound like a cliché young one, but it is true. Our thoughts and words become actions and perspectives. It is really important that you know that your thoughts will guide how you feel and how you act. If you think you are not beautiful, you will believe it and you will go through life thinking   and acting as if you are not. If you think you are capable, you will believe it and you will go through life thinking and acting as if you are. So be aware of what you think, and even if you have to fake it to yourself, think only the best. Dream big, because why not

5. Try, fail, and try again

Not everything you do will result in a win. The difference between a winner and a loser is the one who tried again. It is not always going to work out the way you want it to, but please don’t give up. The strongest and most successful amongst us fell but then they got up again. Know that you can. Believe that you can, then try. Try and try again. Even though this is meant to be a letter to my younger self, it is exactly what my adult self needs to remember and live by everyday

Please visit the site: http://selfesteem.dove.co.za and see how you can help a young girl remember that she is valuable and important