September 14, 2020

I tried so hard to fit in when I was in school. The standard of beauty in the Philippines is this: light skin, shorter height, skinny. Well, I used to be skinny, but that was it. My skin was tan, I was pretty tall, and my body has changed more than I can ever imagine. So, what now?

I’ve tried dye-ing my hair with every color of the rainbow (not really, but close). I even shaved my head at some point—not once, but thrice. I tried doing these things because at that point in time, that was what made me feel ‘special’.

I felt like I had to do all these to please everybody. Boy, pleasing everybody had been such a priority when I was a tad bit younger. I had spent a good portion of my late teenage years and my early twenties trying to fit into the status quo, and trying to jam myself into the moulds that were made by our society. I didn’t like it.

I learned a lot of things from the past few years, and one thing that stuck with me is how I only needed to be absolutely in love with my own body, and how to be a genuine and authentic person. To heck with people’s opinions. I wanted to be true to myself, and I wanted to know what sparked joy and what didn’t.

Today, as I was working, I looked in the mirror.

As per usual, my first impression was, “Woah, I look horrible and I look so tired!”

So then I looked closer (not to be vain or anything lmfao), I somehow appreciated all the imperfections that made me, me.

How my legs are slightly more toned than the rest of my body because I love walking and hiking and cycling. What do you expect? For someone who walks a lot and for someone who cycles every weekend, my legs weren’t even as toned I wanted it to be, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

How I have a bit of belly fat because I love to eat food—good food. Oh, and beer too! I’ve spent two Oktoberfests in Germany, and have spent half a year stuffing my faces with tacos in Mexico. I’m living the life I’ve dreamed and worked hard for, and I’m eating great food from all around the world. Obviously, the calories had to go somewhere…they chose my belly, and I’ve got no shame in that.

How I have some prominent back muscles from always carrying my 75L packs. My pack is slightly heavier than most backpackers, but I’m a hoarder, and so my back gets more workout than most parts of my body. That’s perfectly fine.

How my left arm carries a constellation of moles (just like my papa’s). My papa and I have a set of matching moles on our arms, and I feel like it’s a connection that I have with him, and I’m absolutely in love with that thought.

How no matter how many times I try straightening my hair, it will always be curly. I got my frizzy hair from my mama, and just like her, I have a hard time straightening it. But it really doesn’t matter, because it’s always up in a bun anyways.

It’s different. I’m different.

There are days when I feel like I’m not enough, but not today. Today’s different. For once in my life, I feel enough, and I want you to know that you are too.

So the next time you feel like you’re not up to society’s beauty standards, just look in the mirror and tell it to screw its beauty standards. The only beauty standard that you should ever live up to, is yours, and believe me, you’re already beautiful. We were created in God’s image, and we were designed beautifully. So, look in the mirror and smile, because you’re beautiful, and I know it.

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23:6 NIV

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