Why women should stop being so self-critical

When you look in the mirror, do you always find something that’s not perfect or beautiful? Why is it that we set the bar so high and there’s always something to complain about?

The critical voice in your head.

Even now being at the other end of the world and working as a model, I still suffer from that critical inner voice. One would think that there’s no reason for me anymore to be insecure about anything, but maybe that’s exactly why I still am. Generally speaking, I am kind to my reflection in the mirror. All day long, I am surrounded by the most beautiful men and women on earth, all of whom I wish the best. Of course, there’s always something to find that makes the other person more beautiful or more fun, but by now I know who I am and what I have to offer. 

I never felt so beautiful before

This week, my boyfriend and I were looking at our new photo series that we shot in Cape Town. The results are mind-blowing. I can’t remember ever looking so good. I am not too thin, not too chubby and my hair is growing back. The most important thing is that I am glowing. That’s not only because of the sun and my healthy diet. Above all things, you can see that I’m literally comfortable in my skin.

The photos are amazing 

We are a good working duo: the model & the photographer. We learn from each other and have a lot of fun together. We feel the gratitude that the universe gives us to be able to pursue our passions on the other side of the world.

These photos are good. Like really good. That’s because they reflect exactly what’s there in this very moment: joy and gratitude. 

Fuck, there it is: belly fat 

And yet, there is this self-criticism that resides in me as I skim through our photos. Alongside all the dozens of beautiful photos, there are a few that I would prefer to delete immediately. I see myself bent over a little too much on a stone staircase. My eyes glance downwards and there it is: a roll of belly fat. Fuck! It now looks like I have a huge fat belly but even if I did: So what?

Unrealistic beauty standards

My critical eye frightens me. Why do I immediately disapprove of myself at the sight of that one little belly fat roll? It makes me think and I realise that I am contributing to the unrealistic image that women get of themselves when they look at model photos. Nothing is what it seems and a lot is photoshopped. I’m always horrified by fellow models who have their photos retouched to such an degree that their skin looks like a bowling ball. Why? Why not show ourselves as we are? What’s wrong with that little belly fat roll? 

Against retouching

So I am against retouching. I always get a bit sad when photographers photoshop away the bump on my upper lip. It’s part of me, so just leave it! And yet, I would now prefer to know someone who retouches away that belly fat. So it’s a contradiction in terms. 

I hear my mother’s voice in the back of my head: You are lucky to have two healthy legs to walk on. She may be the master of putting things into perspective, but right now I don’t give a fuck about those stupid legs.

I published it

It has to be broken: our beauty standards and our self-critical image. I decided to honour my belly fat and published the photo here. And do you know what? It’s actually not that bad after all.  I would almost like to have it retouched to make it look worse. Why would I do that? Because now I see that it doesn’t make any sense. Like so much of what we think about ourselves and others doesn’t make any sense. So, listen dear reader: be happy with your two legs and your belly. What would you do without them?

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