If you are anything like me, learning to love the way you look has been a life long struggle.
I’m pretty sure this is something that affects nearly everyone in the world. And why wouldn’t it? We are not only swarmed with images of what beauty is “supposed to look like”, but many of us also deal with people straight out telling us we are ugly, or that we need to change something about ourselves.
Which starts a cycle of hating who we see when we look in the mirror.
But a few months back, something happened where immediately overnight, I learned to love the way I looked.
And my goal is to share with you exactly what changed, so you can start viewing yourself differently too.
The Low Self Esteem Cycle
Growing up, I had incredibly low self-esteem. From things that happened at home, and constantly seeing my mom dieting and speaking ill about herself, by the time I hit my pre-teens, I felt like I wasn’t supposed to like how I looked.
Then around my pre-teens, one of my really good friends since the 3rd grade, started telling me daily how fat and ugly I was. (I was actually a really skinny kid). She was one of my best friends, so I believed her. (For those who watch my Youtube channel and met Rachel on there, it was NOT Rachel who did this.)
Then sometime around the age of 14, I was in an online chat room (remember those?) looking for new friends. There was a guy from my school, a grade older, who messaged me. Once he looked me up in the yearbook, he told me how ugly and hideous I was.
I was crushed. I felt so ugly. I was so ugly that it prevented me from making friends.
I spent the next 20 years trying everything to prove that wasn’t true and started looking for “love” and validation anywhere I could get it.
Was What They Said True?
I felt they must have been speaking the truth. Because after all, they weren’t the only ones who have said things like that to me.
The boyfriend I had before I dated Aaron, made it very well known that he thought I was disgusting and gross (seriously, why was he with me then?), and even made an appointment for me to have my skin tightened everywhere.
But looking back, I realize something about all of these situations.
They May Suffer From Low Self Esteem Too
The “friend” from when I was younger, she constantly sabotaged me in other ways.
My very first boyfriend at 12 years old, she called him behind my back and got him to date her.
I got a part in a school musical and she didn’t, and she made me feel guilty and told me they didn’t want me, they only picked me because the teacher was mad at her for something ridiculous. I thought that was unfair and felt like I wasn’t the one they truly wanted, so dropped out. She didn’t get the part.
I was so excited about the musical and had dreamt of being onstage. But I never tried out again because I had the feeling they really didn’t want me.
Then she became friends with the biggest girl in our grade and told her lies that I was saying mean things about her. I had no idea who the girl even was until after she started bullying and trying to intimidate me.
All of that should show that my “friend” was speaking from a place from her own insecurities.
Anything good that happened for me, she would try to sabotage me and bring me down. Because she didn’t want a friend who seemed better than her in any way. She needed a friend who she could feel better than.
And she succeeded.
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
When I first heard that term, I thought it was stupid.
I don’t think I really understood what it meant. Because wasn’t beauty just beauty? How can beauty be different to different people?
But when the guy from high school told me I was ugly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder is exactly what I should have seen. I just didn’t understand that at the time.
We tend to judge others based on things we grew up with and what we are insecure about ourselves for.
So if we grow up in a house where no one’s weight is ever good enough, that is one of the first things you will notice about other people. And you will see it as a negative.
If you grow up in a household where someone hates their nose, hates their hair, hates blue eyes, etc, or if you think these things about yourself, that will be the first thing you see in other people, and it will seem ugly to you that they have this imperfection too.
Which is why beauty isn’t the same for everyone.
I didn’t fit his definition of beauty.
He probably doesn’t prefer females with blond hair, blue eyes, or females with my face shape. He was taught those things are ugly.
And that is okay. Because later in life, there are others who would find me beautiful and weren’t taught those things.
The Ex Who Bashed My Looks
He was just a jerk.
Everything he did was to keep up on appearances.
Initially, he found me to be the most beautiful woman in the world. But it wasn’t long until he started joking about my imperfections and how we needed to fix them before we went out next, because he had to have the perfect woman with him.
I wasn’t allowed to go out of the house without makeup. I always had to be dressed for success.
I didn’t own my first pair of sweatpants until I started dating my husband!
Looking back, there was nothing wrong with me and how I looked. I just didn’t fit in with his idea of how I should look.
Because my husband now feels I look perfect.
Was it okay for my ex to treat me that way? No. But the point here is the issue was not how I looked, but how he perceived me to look.
Learning to Love The Way You Look
As you can see, the problem is never actually the way you look.
But if you are still unsure, here is the ultimate thing that happened that led me to change my mind on how I looked.
I constantly was down on myself about how I looked. I talked about the features I was unhappy with constantly. My nose, my asymmetrical face, my tooth gap, my big forehead, the luggage under my eyes….
Then one day, I saw a photo of my grandma (my mom’s mom) when she was about my age.
We were identical. Could be twins. I actually thought the picture was of me and was reaching into my memories to figure out when I took this picture because I didn’t remember it.
Then I found out it was my grandma. People kept commenting on social media how much we resembled each other.
Then my grandma made a comment I will never forget. “Sorry, Ashly, that you have to look like me”.
I instantly reassured my grandma and let her know that I thought she was beautiful.
And then I stopped. How could I tell her that she was beautiful, but tell myself that I was ugly?
Every single time I told myself I was ugly, I was saying she was ugly too.
And she isn’t.
In one moment, everything about how I felt about myself my entire life turned around.
I was proud to look like my grandma.
Who Do You See in The Mirror?
When I look in the mirror now, I look for other people who made me.
I see my dad’s forehead and eyes. I see my other grandma’s jawline. I see my mom’s teeth and bags under the eyes. I see a feature inherited from every single person in my family and extended family.
I don’t think any of them are ugly.
So why would I think that about myself when I am made up with stuff from them?
Who in your family do you love?
Do you see any of their features on you?
Then when you go look in the mirror, start seeing THEM.
Because my paternal grandmother is gone, but I still see her everyday when I look at my jawline.
When my maternal grandmother passes, I will still see her every day because I look a lot like her.
Start Seeing YOU
When you look in the mirror, you should see YOU.
The person who is made up of all the features of the people you love.
When I look in the mirror, I smile now. Because I see both grandmas.
And both grandmas are beautiful.
And I am damn proud to look like them.
And you should be damn proud to look like the people you love too.