I Feel Pretty

I chose this topic because it is something that falls very close to home. I myself am a victim to negative self-critique and often I don’t even have enough confidence to do the simple things I enjoy most. This is not just due to internal pressure created by myself to live up to social media norms but external pressures too. For example, a simple jog outside in proper gear has men cat calling me and making me feel inferior for not giving them the time of day but according to them I wore my sports bra just to entice them.  Even buying food at the grocery shop gets me into awkward conversations with men I have no intentions of becoming friends with. When I kindly reject their offer of friendship, I become *insert rude names* because I’m acting self-centered. The thing about beauty is that it cannot be measured by the external factors, no matter how much society wants it to be based on looks, it really starts from within. This took me a while to realize but once I did, I was able to have a fresh look on life and myself.

Images are credited to @p.losoul
Kevin Mthethwa is a photographer from Durban South Africa. View his work HERE.

I’m from South Africa, which is flooded by beautiful, intelligent and ambitious young women of every colour and size. But even with that said, there is a high rate of girls, within this country, suffering from self-esteem issues. This is an old topic of discussion but a reoccurring song. Young women are constantly being bashed because of their natural looks, especially young African women from across the globe. This includes critiquing our skin colour, bodies and especially our hair. Manufacturers target young African females with their skin bleaching products, hair weave extensions, waist training belts, and all kinds of makeup products. If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice how most advertisement use keys words such as “hide” “enhance” & “cover” to trigger our insecurities and create a desire to get rid of them instead of accepting them. We live in an era that is attempting to teach young women to be empowered and confident whilst simultaneously convincing us that we are not good enough without the enhancements. Where is the balance? Well, the balance is within us. It’s about us as woman realizing our worth, whether beauty or body and embracing its true natural essence.

There are a several ways to recognize and embrace your natural beauty. Although we don’t realize it, a morning routine is just as important as eating breakfast in the morning. What is a morning routine? It is a 15 to 30-minute period which you dedicate to yourself to reflect on your upcoming day. This may include meditating, scheduling your day, and reminding yourself of your goals. By having a morning routine, it helps you to become more organized and less stressed which allows you to start your day at your best. For some people prayer is a form of meditation, getting in touch with your spirit guide is an essential way for releasing bad energies and taking in good ones. If neither of these seem to be the option for you maybe you can try other ways which are more physical forms or mental stimulation such as jogging or running, an early morning swim, or a simple walk with your dog in your neighbourhood. It’s great for your physic and good for the dog to get out of the house and get a mini exercise of its own.

Images are credited to @p.losoul
Kevin Mthethwa is a photographer from Durban South Africa. View his work HERE.

Other methods that can help you become happier and more confident is listening to music. Music is a powerful tool as it has the ability to change your mood and spark certain memories or emotions. Do you ever find that when you listening to sad music you feel like crying and you start thinking of all the sad things in your life? In the same regard listening to happier music can leave you feeling better about yourself, your day and anything going on in your life. There is a range of music you can choose from to play. From something that keeps you calm and opens your mind, to music that leaves you feeling as if you are the queen who runs the world. Lastly, you. Yes, you. Your feelings and opinions are enough. Stop seeking validation from others. From your parents, your siblings and especially your friends. No one in this world wants better or the best for you than you do. You need to start accepting that your word is law in your life. No else must or can run it.

With that being said, these tips may seem a bit impersonal or perfected. So I took it upon myself to find women who have or are going through a journey of self-discovery and have ‘mastered’ the art of self-confidence. These are some of the things they said helped them gain confidence. 1) Letting go of guilt. We don’t realize it, but often we hold on to the emotion of guilt for wronging someone else or even anger towards someone for wronging us. This more often than not blocks us from growing and as a result we become stranded behind whilst our peers flourish. Learn to let go. 2) Only say yes if YOU want to! Caving into the requests of friends and sometimes lovers when your heart is not in it can cause stress and depression. This is a tell-tale sign of a lack of confidence. To combat this, you need to be firm in your own decisions and feelings. Confident people know that it is healthy to say no. 3) Find a mentor. This is not limited to someone you can talk to on a personal level. You can find a local successful woman (there are plenty) you most identify with in terms of their career, morals or values and use their social media platforms to follow them.  For example, Khanyisile Dhlomo is a 44-year-old successful entrepreneur who works as an editor and is the CEO (owner) of Destiny Magazine amongst other things. She is a prime example of what young women in South Africa should be aspiring to. Other successful women include Nomzamo Mbatha (28), Connie Ferguson (48) and Bonang Matheba (31) to name a few. 4)Applaud yourself for small victories. Confident people can challenge themselves even if their efforts lead to small victories. The ability to appreciate the series of small victories creates a boost in your confidence that can last for months.

Images are credited to @p.losoul
Kevin Mthethwa is a photographer from Durban South Africa. View his work HERE.

As listed above there are a range of daily routines one can use to keep the motivation going. It is not limited to what is set out above but what is above is a good way to start. Remember, this is in no way attempting to belittle women who love using makeup, weaves or waist trainers. The idea is to make you as a woman understand that you are just as beautiful, if not more, without these products.  You are beautiful just as you. Now love yourself.

Written by Zanele Mthembu- Forgotten Magic’s SA Content Creator

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