Being a woman in the world is hard, especially at this point in history. More than ever before, we are bombarded with images of conventionally beautiful women. Instagram influencers. Celebrities. Models selling us Kim Kardashian’s latest body makeup cream (and reminding us we’re ugly without body makeup cream!) More than ever before, we are reminded that we aren’t enough, not pretty enough the way we are. It’s a poisonous message: one that can bring us to the brink of self-loathing.

So how do we fight it? How can we feel prettier in a world that constantly tells us the opposite? 

1. Minimize your exposure to oppressive beauty standards 

Unfollow Vogue on Instagram. Stop watching Bella Hadid’s makeup YouTube videos. Forget about watching the Victoria’s Secret show this year. If looking at models constantly is making you feel bad about yourself, don’t buy fashion or beauty magazines. Replace the time you spend on them with literally anything else, sis. I promise it’s worth it. Follow cute accounts of calico cats instead of wondering why your thigh circumference isn’t like Emily Ratajkowski’s. It’s the best gift you can give yourself.

At the very least, try to remember that there is absolutely no model or female celebrity who has not been called ugly. It doesn’t matter how perfect, how heart-stopping beautiful you think someone looks, there will always be a man who comments “4/10 would not smash” on her picture. Remember that and be free. 

2. Surround yourself with friends and partners who affirm you  

It’s 2019. Absolutely no-one has the energy for toxic friends. (You know, the kind who’s always going on about how fat she feels, or making snide passive aggressive comments to you on a regular basis). Friendships, especially female friendships, are often our biggest source of self-esteem in a cruel world. You can’t afford to have friends who make you feel bad about yourself – fade out on those friendships and get new ones.

You know that girls’ bathroom energy, when all the drunk girls are putting on makeup, taking selfies, and complimenting strangers on how cute they look? Yeah. That’s the same energy your friends should be bringing at all times. 

Same goes with men. Find men who make you feel good – no, wonderful – in the body you have. They’re not always easy to find, but they’re out there. Toss the lukewarm men you keep meeting on Tinder, the ones who don’t shower you with affection and give you the genuine compliments you deserve. 

3. Spend time on a different kind of self-care 

So much of what we call ‘self-care’ is just buying products to make ourselves more outwardly beautiful. It’s buying ourselves Korean skincare creams, or those expensive hair extensions we can’t afford. These things are legitimate, but they’re not the only kind of self-care. They may make you feel prettier right now, but they’re not going to magically fix underlying insecurities. Capitalism isn’t the shortcut to self-confidence. 

Take out a pencil and a sheet of paper. Think back to when you last felt pretty, really pretty. Was it when you were wearing your favourite dress? Was it on a girls’ night out with your friends, or when you looked at yourself in the mirror after a morning of meditation and a restful night’s sleep? 

Here’s the secret to feeling beautiful: it’s usually linked to some internal thought process, to a good mood or to being in the company of your favourite person. Try to recreate that feeling, or that event: it’s going to show on your face automatically and give you that incomparable glow of joy. That’s the kind you can never buy, baby. 

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