Tugging on her mothers dress, she points over to a doll sitting in the corner of the store. Seeing the interest beaming from her daughters eyes, the mother walks with her over to the doll, and picks it up. “It’s exquisite” exclaims the girl! Blue braided hair, purple sparkly eyes, canvas brown skin and a vibrant sequin dress. “There is no other doll like it” says the girl. It was a designer doll, that had been meticulously hand crafted.  The mother see’s how mesmerised her daughter is with this doll, and she can see why – it’s interesting, it’s vibrant, it’s unique…

So many of us woman, have grown up in a world where beauty is not about uniqueness, but rather has been standardised, and defined for us – size 6, glossy straight hair, 5 “11, flawless fair skin, on trend clothing. These preconceived ideals have been heavily projected onto us and the society we live in, by the media. The rise of instagram has only further compounded this. And so here we are in a world, where so many young girls and women, end up feeling like they are inadequate, and need to somehow change to feel “pretty”. This imposed lack of self worth is detrimental to our mental health, and can set us up for destructive cycles in life.

As an awkward teenager myself, I despised my appearance – 5’2, curly hair, tan blemished skin. In my eyes I was far from the worlds definition of  beautiful. It wasn’t until at 28, when I had my own daughter that my reality began to shift. I began to wake up to the true value of who I was as a mother, a daughter, a sister and a wife. I realised that “Grass withers and flowers fade” (proverbs) – that the worlds definition of skin deep beauty, does not last forever, as “apparently” it fades with age. How could I base my self-worth on something so fickle, so superficial?!

As we invest time finding our true selves, and accepting ourselves for who we are, I believe we come to realise that true beauty begins on the inside, and emanates on the outside. My perspective of beauty is now much more diverse and unrefined, and in-fact evolves as we age. Like an old tree that stands bare, there is so much rugged beauty in elderly women – every wrinkle, every line, every grey hair has been earned, and the alluring eyes of age tell wild, unspoken stories.

And as a mother tiger proudly wears her stripes, so to should we mothers! Those stretch marks are not imperfections, they are a badge of honour. To be worn as a reminder of how amazing and strong our bodies are, to have endured the mind blowing process of producing life!

Since when did we think that trying to standardise ourselves to fit the worlds definition of beauty would make us more valuable? Aren’t designer, or custom made goods worth more because they are unique? Let me tell you, you are designer, you are custom made! Give yourself permission to love yourself for everything that makes you, you!

In a world obsessed with the physical appearance, I feel like we need to embrace our individuality. “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself – Coco Chanel.” We need to rock what makes us different. How about that for a fashion trend – embracing you?! Enhance your uniqueness rather than camouflaging it. After all, it’s what makes us different that makes us special, and it’s this confidence that makes us beautiful. The world is so much better with variety, how boring if we all looked the same. So I challenge you to embrace who you are – your curves, your ethnicity, your height, your hair – embrace your genetic lineage, embrace your individuality!

I am not my hair,

I am not the clothes that I wear.

I am not a number – my weight, my age,

nor even my wage.

I am not the blemishes on my skin,

I am the spirit that lives within.

I am a person – a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a wife.

I am a woman, I am warrior battling through life.