Not many people use Facebook these days. I have found myself religiously checking it everyday just to see if Jada Pinkett-Smith has posted a new status. The wife of Will Smith reminds me so much of my mother. The eloquence with which she shares her life lessons is so admirable. Recently, she posted a status commenting on Sharon Stone’s interview on The Queen Latifah Show. Stone reportedly spoke on how our culture “cultivates desperate women.” Smith went on to say, “Many of us have been taught to believe that how people treat us is a direct reflection of our self-worth so we become desperate about our looks, desperate about whether he is being faithful, we become desperate about being good enough.” It is not often that this topic is discussed on media outlets. It both was refreshing and encouraging to know that self love is not only a priority for some women in Hollywood, but that they are also passionate about influencing other women to self love.
As women there is so much pressure on us from society and the media to look, act, and speak a certain way. We wax, shave, tweeze, powder, highlight, diet, run, lift, squeeze in, poke out, accessorize, flaunt, flirt, etc. – but for whom? I was fortunate to grow up in a household where being presentable and approachable was instilled but there was never much emphasis on my physical appearance as far as appeal goes. I have met women who never leave the house without a face full of make-up and their hair done. While I can admire the effort and skill, I still ask – whom are you doing this for? The amount of beautiful, fashionable, depressed women in this country is a tragedy in my eyes. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we allow the media to make us victims to our own unrealistic expectations of self?
I spent most of high school getting cute for classes, trying to catch an eye, just to feel that it still was not enough. I found that no amount of make up or trendy clothing would gain anyone’s, (male’s especially) respect. Stifling my personality and buying into clothes and cosmetics to cover my insecurities did nothing but make me miserable. It took a couple heartbreaks for me to see that the best way to get respect from others is to respect myself. Being selflessly selfish is the best decision I have made as a young adult. I had to take responsibility for my feelings, my health, my well-being, my conscience, my spirituality, my body, my happiness – I had to be real with myself. Instead of buying foundation, I started drinking more water and eating cleaner. Instead of wondering why “he” didn’t call me back, I got a haircut and painted my nails – because it made me feel good. As cliché as it sounds, once I started doing these things, the more beautiful I felt, and more consistent I became with my healthy habits. I make it my responsibility to feel good about myself in a healthy way.
Looking back I see that I was depending on others for my own validation of self. I am the most beautiful I have ever been because I believe it for myself. I don’t need anyone to tell me. Compliments are always wonderful reminders and humbly appreciated. But it is our duty to know ourselves. To know that we are not reflections of how people treat us, we are not reflections of our past, or of what the media and society has projected onto us. We are the reflections of what lies in our heart.
Sophomore at Ohio University