Use What You’ve Got

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wished for (or tried to recreate) someone else’s look. Was it their hairstyle? Their physique? Their style of dress? All of the above? Now that you have something in mind, think about what was at the heart of that wish in light of how you saw yourself then versus now.

I want to start by saying that there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with your look. In fact, I highly encourage it! But there’s a difference between experimenting with your look and switching things up in the hopes of becoming more like someone else. One can be fun and freeing, and the other can be damaging.

When you stand in front of a mirror, do you struggle to embrace the person looking back at you? If so, then it might be time for a heart check. I’ll dive deeper into what that means some other time; but for now, here are a few ways you can begin to use (and even celebrate!) what you’ve got.

Be your own kind of beautiful.

Embrace your natural hair texture.

Guess who spent the majority of her life obsessively straightening her hair. Yep, it was me. Like most Black women, I grew up believing that my natural hair texture was not beautiful or desirable; and after 20+ years of using relaxers and flat irons to achieve my desired look, I decided to give it up. It was a long process, but I slowly, but surely, created a haircare regimen that (1) freed me from the pressure to be something that I’m not, (2) revitalized my strands, and (3) improved my self-image.

In a future post, I’ll share the details of my natural hair journey; but I want to let you know that I proudly wear my naturally curly crown more often than not and I wish I had learned to embrace it sooner.

Play up your favorite facial feature(s).

Over the last three years, I’ve developed a love for makeup. Not only for its ability to mask blemishes, but for the many ways in which I can use it to enhance my favorite features. And get this: the features I’m referring to just so happen to be what I felt most insecure about as a teenager – my eyes! These days, I love using a good mascara and eyeliner to make them pop; and before the pandemic, I was experimenting with more colorful eyeshadow palettes to discover what works well for me.

All of this to say that once I recognized, appreciated, and enhanced my (now) favorite features, I experienced a tremendous confidence boost.

Resist the urge to pick apart your bodily “imperfections.”

Like most women, I can identify specific parts of my body that I don’t like or that I feel ashamed of. Much of this stems from a lifetime of absorbing unhealthy messages about body image and womanhood. As we all know, there are far too many voices weighing in on what’s too big or too small, what’s worth flaunting versus concealing, what’s in versus out… It’s exhausting!

Although it might sound cheesy, I highly encourage you to gain control over what you label as an imperfection when it comes to your own body. We all come in different shapes and sizes. We are all molded differently from head to toe and that’s something to celebrate.

Learn to appreciate your body for what it does for you rather than how it looks; then it becomes a lot easier to steward it well. Don’t pick it apart or compare it to someone else’s at your own expense.

Accept genuine compliments on your appearance.

Once upon a time, I had a really bad habit of questioning people’s compliments. I would even think about them hours later and convince myself that the person who gave the compliment was somehow mistaken. It was a terrible, terrible habit, but I’ve gotten better with age. Instead of undermining the compliment, I’ve learned to smile and say thank you. I’ve learned to hold my head up higher in those moments. I’ve learned to take mental notes of the details of the compliment for future reference. I’ve learned that I am worthy of kind words and that I don’t have to be a picture of perfection to be deserving of a genuine compliment.

God has been so kind to me over the years that in moments where I felt invisible, someone noticed me and complimented me on my appearance. So the next time someone makes a nice gesture and compliments your hair, your skin tone, your style, or whatever it may be, soak it up and say thank you.

Your Homework

Since we’re all stuck indoors, now’s a good time to play with your look and truly discover what you like about you:

  • Consider what it might look like to wear your natural hair texture.
  • Pick one to two of your favorite facial features and research how to subtly enhance them with accessories, makeup, or a specific haircut.
  • For a full week, only wear clothing that makes you feel good (even indoors!). That includes colors and silhouettes that look good on you.
  • When you step out of the shower and look in the mirror, choose to be kind to yourself.
  • When/if someone pays you a compliment, kindly accept it.
  • Last, but not least, get into the habit of affirming yourself often. Don’t be blind to your own beauty!

Then watch the magic happen. The magic of using what you’ve got!

Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: