Self-Image: The first step

Kelsey Gustafson
Kelsey Gustafson

Self-image is probably one of the hardest concepts to ‘accept’. As a 20-year-old woman, I am supposed to be fit, but not too muscular or else that is considered ‘manly.’ I am supposed to be witty, bright, well dressed and funny, but not inappropriate. All the while, I am supposed to be wearing minimal makeup to slightly enhance any ‘natural beauty’ that resides in my face.

The pressure of being a young woman is increasing throughout the years—or maybe that’s just my sociological analysis since it is my applied focus of college. Whatever the factor is, it is one that needs to be addressed.

As a junior in college, I have noticed my physical transformation since I started off as an 18-year-old bug-eyed freshman, entering Rowan University for the very first time. I was both scared and excited to meet new people and to encounter and date men. I also wondered if I would be able to lose some weight and get clearer skin (which is basically wondering if I will hit the jackpot). It has been three years since then and yet, even though my skin cleared up and I lost the freshman 15, I still find myself battling the same insecurities.

My friends always tell me, “Shut up Kelsey, you look fine.” FINE? I don’t want to look ‘fine’, I want to turn heads and be a lady killer for goodness sakes. The mere thought of being just ‘enough’ does not seem to have the same glam as being more than enough, which is the point I am getting at.

Our bare-skinned selves pale in comparison to those beautiful, timeless models in magazines. Our sleepy-eyed faces and hips with stretch marks are not as desirable as flawlessly unscathed bodies and bright blue-eyed beach babes.

Whenever I wake up in the morning and see a slight break out on my face, I go crazy. I buy all these face and beauty products to cover up a few pimples because I’m scared of what people will think if they see a red mark on my face. It’s like we have been injected with the idea that pimples make us unattractive or that having a bigger body frame makes us undesirable. Society tells us not to be like Barbie, but they sure as heck don’t hesitate to use her as a woman’s ideal body-image. I’m not saying she isn’t beautiful, because I’ve been raised with the pre-designed mindset that she is; however, I am saying that I think it’s time for us to find a new ideal.

This column is about figuring out who you are as a person, and loving that person more than anything or anyone else. It’s going to be a process, since I’m only just learning how to love myself now, but at least I found my starting point. I challenge those who are reading this to find their starting point and begin this journey with me. It’s not going to be easy, but if we can erase the invisible walls we have around ourselves, we can begin seeing that we aren’t as alone in our thoughts as we believe we are. The first step is looking in the mirror and deciding right then and there, you have found your starting point.