Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when did we start letting everyone else around us—in Hollywood, on Instagram, famous influencers, close friends and even people we don’t know—start dictating our own personal standards of beauty?
According to a recent Ulta Beauty study, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans have judged someone else for how they look, but 7 out of every 10 Americans admit that they’ve misjudged someone based on their appearance. Think about it: Have you ever seen someone and thought they were wearing too much makeup? Does that really speak to who they are as a human? Bottom line: Judging others without knowing them is a norm. It’s astonishing, sad, but also extremely believable in today’s picture-perfect-obsessed world. It also makes it amazingly clear why we feel the pressure to present this one-size-fits-all fake front.
But why are we so quick to appease this manufactured standard and let it change how we feel about our uniqueness? Even though we feel the burden to conform from every angle, who says we need to hide the things that make us standout?
The reality is this peer-judging, self-judging roller coaster is only going to speed up unless we stop it—starting with how we show up for ourselves. Take the celebrity world for instance: There are plenty of models, actors and other big names that have decided to celebrate what others might have (mis)judged as imperfections. Maybe it’s gap teeth, a prominent mole or a conspicuous scar. When personally embraced, these so-called “flaws” have become the very trademarks that make said celebs, dare we say, iconic.
To prove that you too can be iconic when you stop judging yourself, we asked six brave women to leave their insecurities at the door and flaunt what they’ve got, whatever it may be—even just for one day. Vicky stopped coloring her hair and loves the way her silver locks shine. Nida used to hate her bushy brows as a child, but now they’re her signature. A younger Chelsea felt insecure about her full lips, but now she’s happily rocking the hottest Hollywood trend—naturally. Beccy has felt pressure to cover her curves, but showing them off gives her confidence. Michelle wasn’t a fan of the way her eyes looked without makeup, but she’s since mastered a cat-eye and loves the results. Christie used to get bullied for her small frame, but now she works in fashion and loves the way clothes fall on her.
Try it: It’s nothing fancy, just you, your favorite people, no phones and a few Polaroid cameras. Focus on what you like about yourself, take photos, enjoy each other’s company and simply be yourself, no questions asked. Chances are by the end of the day you’ll see lots of real smiles, raw personality and unfiltered fun—not just from you, but from everyone else in the room. Suddenly you’ll catch yourself appreciating everyone beyond these initial (mis)judgments. You’ll feel good, naturally, and you’ll have reclaimed, or at least reminded, yourself that you have the power to dictate how you feel when you take time for moments like these—and only you can do that.