By: Eleanor Coughlin(she/her/)
Editorial Team Member

One of the hardest things for girls to believe is that they are beautiful.

Society doesn’t like it when women have confidence. Society doesn’t like it when women are able to look in the mirror and be happy about what they see there. There’s hundreds of specific standards that are pushed on girls as soon as they’re able to understand the world around them.  Perfect looking models, celebrities, and social media influencers are the envy of all. There’s makeup products that claim to help ‘make you’ pretty.

I can’t lie, I do feel pretty in makeup. I love wearing eyeliner, because I think it makes me look really cool. But while it’s an amazing thing to feel beautiful in makeup, it’s important to also be able to feel just as beautiful without it.

Luckily, in recent years this has been brought to light more. The body positivity movement has been pushing the idea that you don’t need flawless skin and hair, and that you don’t need to be as skinny as a stick to look good. But still, even with this seemingly positive movement, there’s still a lot of negativity towards women truly feeling beautiful.

Sure, people want girls to feel pretty,  . If we’re too confident in how we look, that means we’re vain, self-absorbed, narcissistic. Society still doesn’t want women to truly think that they’re beautiful.

And much of the time, they don’t need to use makeup or models to make us insecure.

This was something I first noticed when I was in seventh grade, after picture day, when we had gotten our results. I had actually liked my photo. Sure, it wasn’t the best picture of me, but it wasn’t the worst, and I was proud of how it had turned out.

But it seemed as if everyone else hated theirs. I had stood in a gaggle of girls complaining about how ugly they were, how horrible they looked in their photo. One girl would complain about how weird her smile looked, and then another girl would reassure her that her smile looked fine. Then that girl who had reassured the first one would point out something bad about her own photo, and it was her turn to be comforted.

I had been taken aback by this, and when it was my turn to speak, I had searched my photo for things that weren’t quite right. Everything else that the other girls had been saying seeped into my brain – their hair, smile, and glasses were crooked, messy, and wrong, and suddenly my hair, smile, and glasses were crooked, messy, and wrong  too.

So I said that, and they all reassured me that it wasn’t true – but how could it not be, when they were the ones who had put those thoughts into my head in the first place?

A group of people insulting your appearance is a common phenomenon. In the movie Mean Girls, Regina, Karen, and Gretchen, the group of ‘mean girls’, all stare into a mirror and point out flaws in each others’ appearances. They then turn to the new girl, Cady, and expect her to say something bad about herself also. She seems a little taken aback, but does it anyway.

We see girls being pitted against girls all the time, but this specific type of attack is unintentional. My friends didn’t mean to make me feel insecure about my picture. They unknowingly pushed their own insecurities onto me.

This unintentional cause of insecurities has been one of the biggest reasons I’ve struggled to look in the mirror and see someone who’s pretty. However, in the past few years, I’ve started to love my looks more and more. The biggest reason for this is that I told myself that I was beautiful.

At some point during my freshman year of high school, instead of looking in the mirror and pointing out all my flaws, I looked in the mirror and told myself that I was beautiful. I would do this every time I looked at myself, even if I didn’t actually believe it. And just like how my insecurities unconsciously seeped into my brain, the idea that I was actually good looking unconsciously seeped into my mind. Eventually, I started actually believing the words that I was telling myself.

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