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Hey, girl, 6 ways to love yourself, and don't be picture-perfect.

Lila Sonnenschein L

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?

O, com'on, this is so yester-century. 

Who needs a mirror,

Now that we have photo-editing Apps? 

Viola! I just transform into a celebrity *wink*!

Yesterday I met up with a friend for lunch and we started to chat about our experiences growing up. 

She was from a very strict family. She had no phone before college. Her mom only allowed her to look into the mirror twice a day, at exactly 6 am, and 9 pm, for 10 minutes each, while her mother waited impatiently at the washroom door. 

"Hurry up, Mimi, don't be vain! It will affect your studies!" 

In addition to that, her mom also insisted that she kept only short hair, a bob in the winter, and a pixie cut in the summer. 

The reason given was: she would save more time each day and attract less attention from the boys, now that she looks exactly like one of them. 

Luckily, she grew up perfectly fine, now keeping flowing long hair in college and has a stable boyfriend**.

"I was not conscious about how I looked before I left home for college. Occasionally I heard some classmates gossiping: 'she actually looks pretty nice, if not because of her ugly haircut.'  And yup, thanks to my tiger mom, I did very well in school. In addition to that, I developed a habit of reading, building genuine friendships and a good self-esteem."

But this is a relatively unusual experience compared to many teens today. In our social media age, selfies and photo-retouching is the norm. Seeing Instagram celebrities and all our friends posting beautified flawless pictures make many of us feel competitive, being flawed and not good enough.

Overtime, it's possible for an individual to internalize these feelings, which may result in low self-esteem, anxiety and in some cases depression. This is especially true among girls in high-schools and colleges where peer pressure is the highest. 

There is a glimmer of hope that the tide may (very) slowly be changing. Several celebrities have spoken out against magazines that have retouched their photos, among them, are Lady Gaga, Kate Winslet and Zendaya. 

When Zendaya's image was photo-shopped by a magazine in 2015, she posted an Instagram photo of the real picture alongside the retouched version.

"Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19-year-old hips and torso quite manipulated. These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have," she captioned the post. "Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love. So I took it upon myself to release the real pic (right side) and I love it. Thank you @modelistemagazine for pulling down the images and fixing this retouch issue."

Kudos to her courage and good example for the rest of us girls!!! 

So what are the tips for embracing ourselves as who we are - adorably imperfect and perfectly lovable female homo sapiens?

1. Follow courageous trend-setters who are unafraid to show their real face and body.

Yup, follow people like what I mentioned above, Zendaya, Kate Winslet, etc etc. And unfollow the ones that arouse any insecurity in you. It is not that we are against photo-editing. It can be quite fun actually. But we don't want our self-esteem to suffer becaue of some unrealistic beauty standards implicated by some accounts that we follow.

2. Stop comparing with friends. 

We are a competitive lot, by nature. But that doesn't mean we are happy when comparing with others. When looking through friends' posts and pictures, always remember that people only post the best sides of their lives online. Everyone has her share of shitty days and down moments. Are there tears behind that grin? Who doesn't have dark moments, or waking up with messy hair and horrible breath??

3. Filter out negative people, and filter in cheerleaders.

They say we are the average of the 5 people we hang out most with. This is huge. Look around you. Does that so-called "best-friend" always put you down directly or indirectly? It might be his/her way of boosting his/her own confidence by putting you down, but at your cost!! By all means, cut these toxic people out, or minimize conversations if you can't avoid them (in the case of family members). Instead, hang out with people who are positive, always cheer you up and be there for you when in need. You can't possibly hate yourself, when surrounded constantly by 5 non-judging, loving souls. 

4. Seeing yourself through the eyes of God, or your loving parent.

When you look into the mirror and start picking at your pimply faces or fat thighs etc, try to see it through the eyes of your loving God (if you are spiritual), or a loving parent/family member. Children do not discriminate people based on their looks (unless they look scary).  What we have learned is an artificial beauty standard created by the media and society. Do you know in ancient Tang dynasty of China, small eyes and full-figured women were regarded as the standard of beauty?? So, you don't need to conform, you are uniquely beautiful,  in your own way. 

5. Get rid of clothes that make you feel self-conscious. 

This is more therapeutic than you think. Have you ever bought a miniskirt that looks great on you but makes you feel really self-conscious and uncomfortable? Guess what, because that is not YOU. So go through you wardrobe and get rid of clothes that make you feel that way, or things that remind you of a bad time in your life (for example, a ring from an ex-boyfriend.) 

6. Eat well, sleep well, and have a little "me" moments. 

Eating well is super important. If you eat good natural food such as lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts etc, your body will thank you and you will feel good. Similarly it goes for our sleep. I don't know about you, but if I don't get enough sleep, I tend to turn grumpy and have a brain fog. In addition to that, unwind each night before sleeping by having a little "me" moments. Hmm, examples like applying your favorite body lotion slowly after shower, while listening to your favorite songs, or reading a book.

I think that's all I wanna share. If you have more tips on how to practice self-love, leave in the comments below;)


**No intention of insult to any LGBT communities here.