Jessica Yin shares her thoughts on beauty standard and why we should look beyond the mirror. 


 

I have big thighs, stubby legs, and practically no torso.

Standing in front of the mirror in polka-dotted underwear, it was hard not to recall the scene from Mean Girls when the gorgeous girls picked apart their minor flaws. To me, they looked perfect, but in their own eyes, there was always something to improve on. For all the fuss about society’s impossible beauty expectations, I am my own worst critic. My mind never ceases its prodding and sneering, comparing my sturdy frame to the delicate, small features of my waif-like friends. To calm my mind, I must have a little talk with my mental judges that critique my reflection.

Self, the world is not fair and every body is not created equal. Even if I spend every waking moment doing crunches and squats, my bone structure will remain strong and large as scaffolding. My legs will not miraculously grow in length and I will always be a fun-sized midget deemed far too short for the catwalk or basketball courts.

Why waste time and energy trying to conform my body to fit someone else’s form? Why mimic someone else’s beauty? Why not spend that time looking at myself and loving the little things that make me who I am?

Self, admire how the dimples from your childhood make yours the face of someone unafraid to lose herself in the ridiculousness of a moment. Your shoulders may be large, but that only goes to show that you are capable of carrying the weight of the world around with ease. Your legs are toned and taunt from a life of overachieving and never standing still enough to let opportunities pass without pursuit. Your feet are small, but your gait is quick. Just because your stature is small, that doesn’t mean you will live a life of casting only little shadows (metaphorically).

The next time you find yourself in front of a mirror, be kind to your reflection. The world is a tough enough place — you don’t need a personal panel of critics. You have to be your own best friend, because there won’t always be someone there to pick you up and tell you you’re awesome. I’d be lying if I said I had this self-love thing down perfectly: as a recovering anorexic, I fight the urge to punish myself daily for little things like eating bread.

Accepting the physical limits of my body and learning to appreciate its unique characteristics has allowed me to move towards happiness. Recently, I’ve learned to stop comparing my body to others — it only makes me long for the impossible. Additionally, I try not to comment on the appearance of my friends or even strangers because big or small, since everyone is struggling with inner demons. Our bodies are our own and they will be with us through the best and worst moments of life; treat yourself kindly and it makes walking through the world a hell of a lot easier.

Self, you are beautiful, intelligent, and no one can stand in your way if you choose to believe in the power of your mind and the strength of your body.

 

Jessica Yin