Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Embrace Your Flaws

Flaws are one part subjective, one part socially influenced and one part the things others have said. They may pertain to your appearance, your personality, your strength or other aspects of the self. And they can feel far worse than they actually are, especially if you've blown their significance well out of proportion. While it can be hard to embrace flaws that you've grown to hate, it is possible to do so. The journey to self acceptance is one many people face at certain stages in life and the sooner you learn to embrace those alleged flaws, the sooner you can stop letting them hold you back.

Reflect. Why do you think of these aspects of yourself as flaws? There are usually three main reasons for finding flaws in yourself, sourced in your own sense of self, social ideals and external commentary. The first, self, refers to your own sense of limitations or of not meeting standards you'd like to meet. Second, you will most likely have internalized society's current ideals of beauty, intelligence (or cleverness) and industriousness, and if you feel you don't meet those ideals, a flaw is easily born. Third, you may have internalized external criticisms from family, friends, coworkers, teachers, people on the street, whoever. In this case, the flaws are often born of another person's distorted image of desirable traits (ironically, their criticism is often a reflection of what falls short within themselves, projecting their perceived flaws onto you.) In reality, all three reasons for flaw-finding are fairly much intertwined and play off one another.

  • Did you simply decide one day when daydreaming or watching yourself in the mirror that some aspect of yourself was not as pretty, ideal or pleasant as you'd like it to be? Did you decide that by watching your siblings, parents or the neighbors that you weren't as fast, smart or thoughtful as someone else? This isn't to say that all comparison is bad, as sometimes we learn much from observing and adopting behaviors we'd rather pursue. But it's problematic the moment we label ourselves as somehow "not right" by comparison.
  • Did you soak up the images of supermodels from magazines and movies, only to realize that you or your lifestyle could never match up? Media images and messages from TV, print and online sources are very influential in developing the human sense of self and one's place in the world, and not all of it has a healthy perspective of what makes for a balanced human being.
  • Many people have defining points in life where someone said something rather critical that sticks in the memory evermore. Recalling all those times you were called hook nose or lanky legs at school, or when a family member accused you of being lazy or slow, can cause the taunt to live on forever, defining a part of you in its own small yet significantly unhelpful way.

  • Challenging the flaws

    Challenge your idea of flaws. Use your knowledge from the previous exercise in determining the source of your flaws to start challenging them. Once you're clear on how that idea of a flaw came to be, you can question its utility to you:
    • If your own ideas about perfection have been the source of the flaws: Be more gentle on yourself. Seek to be more aware of the things you've being gifted with rather than focused on what's missing or imperfect. Life is precious and human beings are always more contented when focusing on the good they can do. Finding self balance is more important than focusing constantly on the negatives.
    • If social ideas of perfection cause you to find flaws: Ideals in appearance, personality and behavior are often associated with particular periods in time. Nowadays, flaws seem even more deeply embedded by the technology that enables models, actors and celebrities to appear flaw-less in magazines and movies, thanks to airbrushing, makeup and other tricks of the trade. Ironically, many celebrities and icons of fashion and beauty can tell you they have flaws, and do their best to cover them up! And it's not only bodily appearance, but lifestyles that are presented as "perfect" too. Realize that the perfection presented through social images is often unrealistic and unobtainable, even for those supposedly representing these ideals. Life is messy, imperfect and ever changing.
    • If other people's comments are the source of the flaw: Question the motives of those people. In some cases, it may just be that they weren't very nice, while in other cases, they might have been thoughtless, letting off steam or plain ignorant. Don't allow the unkindness or lack of sense of others to turn into a personal flaw.
    Turn the mountain back into a molehill. Where possible, reduce the impact of things other people say, as these lingering messages are a form of control from the past. Perhaps your teacher Mrs X said you had a lopsided smile in school photos. Later a child in your school year said your teeth were funny looking. Then one birthday, your Uncle Y said your smile was dopey (he always had foot-in-mouth syndrome). You stopped smiling, all because the things these people said loomed large in your mind. Now, you have the hindsight to realize that these comments were not related, were blown out of proportion in your mind and failed to account for the times Mrs P said what a brilliant smile you had and when the dentist congratulated you on having such well cared for teeth. Your smile was never a flaw; rather, it became such when when you overlaid the throwaway comments of people from here and there over the years.
    Talk to your friends about your flaws. They'll probably have a lot to say. Often you're your own harshest critic, and the flaws you see in yourself aren't as bad as you think. Your friends will give you an honest and reasonable view of your flaws from the outer world's point of view. Do likewise for your friends who are worried about their flaws. Be kind and thoughtful!

    Embracing the flaws

    Remember that naming something gives it form, or even power. Avoid calling your flaws "flaws." Call them quirks, pet habits or "my thing". Being quirky sounds a lot more accepting then going on about being flawed. Taking the word "flaw" out of the whole equation makes any flaw much easier to embrace.
    • Often what you think of as "flaws" are actually quirks. Quirks are like lovable flaws. Quirks make you who you are, so you've got to love them! If you didn't have them you'd be empty, boring and totally hated. Your quirks are the reason people fall in love with you, befriend you, relate to you, so embrace them.
    • In turn, avoid finding "flaws" in others. When you feel tempted to do so, ask yourself why you think someone else has a flaw and rename it as "their thing", or whatever works for you
    Give your flaws a workout. If you're a terrible dancer, go dancing. You might be teased, but chances are you won't be and most likely, someone's a lot more worried about their dancing than you are! If you live life afraid of your flaws, you'll miss out on parts of life that help shape who you are. Don't be afraid of what people will say; instead, let yourself explore beyond those flaws, doing whatever you want and seeking either enjoyment or fulfillment in all you do.

    Plan ahead. Have witty or amusing comebacks ready for people who might say unkind or thoughtless things when you reveal (or revel in) your flaw instead of hiding it. This empowers you ahead of time and lets you keep the momentum going. Pretty soon, people stop viewing a supposed flaw as such when it's downplayed.
    De-emphasize flaws. When it comes to flaws in appearance, take a leaf from the books of those so-called perfect supermodels. They know they have "flaws" too but they work on minimizing the impact and emphasizing their good features. Makeup, style of clothing, the way you walk, your attitude and your willingness to participate are all important ways to minimize flaws.

    Think of the popular people in your life who don't match current standards of appearance––likely they'll have de-emphasized the flaws, made the most of their good points and are bubbly, friendly, outgoing and caring people who draw others to them.

    Notice positive reactions to your flaws. Once you put your flaws out into your public life, you'll probably notice that a lot of people have positive reactions to them. By hiding your flaws, you can suppress chances to make to friends, try new things, and learn to love your flaws. Befriend some people who have the same flaws as you and talk about the flaw––not as a flaw, but as something you share in common.

    Often speaking up about a so-called flaw gives other people the opportunity to connect with you and to own up to having the same fears, worries and thoughts as you. By creating the space in which people feel safe to discuss their flaws and show them, you can become part of a chain reaction of liberating other people from hiding their flaws!

    Realize that flaws are part of perfection. If you were flawless, you wouldn't be perfect. Your flaws are part of who you are––part of your perfection. Some professional artists put purposeful flaws in their art. Your flaws make you human, so don't be ashamed of them.

    Find the good part of every flaw. Go back to the list you started, and next to each flaw, write two good things about that flaw. You must do this for every single one. It can be hard, but it's extremely important to see that every flaw has its pros. If you're only seeing the cons, it's hard to learn to love the flaw. If you're having trouble, ask a friend to help you.

    Monday, March 4, 2013


    Big is beautiful, if you know how to pull it off. Even the thinnest women need a bit of work before they feel ready to face the world in the mornings. Just because you're "thick" doesn't mean you're automatically disqualified from beauty. Here are some steps to help you look your best.

    1. Exercise: All women agree on this one: a little bit of a workout works wonders not only on your figure, but your overall health. Don't focus only on losing weight. Instead, after consulting your doctor, start a workout focusing on cardiovascular health and toning your muscles. A woman weighing 190 with 36% body fat looks different than a woman of the same weight with 22% body fat.

    2. Have good hygiene: Being overweight is completely acceptable. Smelling atrocious or being grimy is not. Pamper yourself with this: get a manicure, get a flattering new hairstyle, but be your natural self, not your clothing.

    3. Find flattering styles: Depending on your facial structure and the distribution of your weight, this all varies, for both clothing and hair. With a hairstyle, consult a trained stylist. In clothing, look for a proper fit: your clothing should generally be feminine and a looser fit. That is not to say "baggy", however if you have a tiny waist, accentuate that with a cinched waist instead of wearing a shirt that is not only tight at the waist, but also tight across the stomach.

    4. Shift the focus away from your weight and to your personality: Add individual style to your clothing and self. A beautiful pair of earrings, or a pretty pair of shoes, they all say something about you. Go for beautiful.

    5. Refrain from showing too much skin: This is distasteful on anyone. Wear long or elbow-sleeved shirts or wear light jackets, and knee-length skirts. Most everyone has nice fore-arms and calves, and paired with a flattering cut shirt, this is a lovely way to show off your beauty.

    6. Smile: If you think you are beautiful, so will everyone else. Show off those pearly whites!

    7. Push your stomach in a little: This is a a very clever technique because if you push your tummy in a little, your back will be automatically straight so you won't have to worry about how to always keep your back straight. At the same time never over do it because then it will show and look horrible.

    8. Keep your back straight: You really gain respect and beauty when doing this.

    9. Try using a little makeup but look natural in the process: Lastly, don't think about your weight. It might put you down. Think of how beautiful you are and it will shine through.