I remember my first experience in an H&M dressing room, and it started out horrifically. Every H&M I’ve been in has multiple mirrors which display absolutely every side of you – sides that you’ve never actually witnessed before. Sure, they can help you find a dress that’s flattering from all angles, but they can also lower your self-esteem.
When I looked in the H&M mirror, I realized how Muppet-like I truly am – just awkward all around, like a constantly moving Grover. But through learning how I look to others on a daily basis, I also learned to embrace it. It’s who I am, and I have to remember that what I see is simply who I am, not some Grover monster. While I have flaws – and everyone has flaws – they’re all probably only magnified in my own head. (I also finally realized how much good posture makes a difference. Seriously, you don’t think about posture until you see yourself standing at all angles… or start to feel horrific back pain – whichever comes first.)
This week, the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie had a similar feeling of disappointment, followed by extreme acceptance, when she and her fellow co-hosts examined themselves in a 360-degree mirror live on television. The exercise was based on a study done by Dove, which pointed out that women spend an average of 50 minutes in front of the mirror each day. The show focused on being makeup-free on an episode that aired earlier this year, so they’re big fans of keeping it real.
Savannah, who is pregnant and due this August, immediately picked herself apart before realizing what truly mattered. Upon first glance, she announced to viewers how her ‘boobs are huge’ and she’s not fond of her arms because they’re ‘flabtastic’, before quickly realizing that there were parts of her body that she absolutely adored. For example, she loves her growing baby bump because its reminds her how remarkable the human body is and how lucky she is to get a chance at motherhood. Sure, a woman’s body will change when she gets pregnant, but it takes on so many new forms of beauty that we’ll all be able to eventually recognize and adore if we’re willing and able to have children.
Savannah wasn’t alone, as her co-anchors also found things that they thought were flawed while looking in the mirror. Natalie Morales focused on her wrinkles, Al Roker on his ‘man boobs’ and ‘turkey waddle’ neck, Matt Lauer on his thin body, and Carson Daly on his ability to hold onto a few extra pounds. Despite being on-air ready, the crew still had a few insecurities that they weren’t ashamed to admit.
It’s interesting to know that it’s not only women who carry insecurities about their physical appearance, even though it seems to stereotypically be a “woman’s issue.” An article from Psychology Today last year called “Why Women Feel Bad About Their Appearance” used a study by David Brooks, who says, “For decades, surveys indicate men had higher self-esteem than women. But there is some evidence that the gap has narrowed or vanished. A 2011 study from the University of Basel based on surveys of 7,100 young adults found that young women had as much self-esteem as young men.”
From that same article, writer Nigel Barber says that while women tend to spend a lot of money on cosmetics that promise to make them more attractive, he has never heard a man saying he wished that his girlfriend would spend more time and money on her appearance. Makes sense, in a way. While I might focus on that little fold of skin under my arm, it never actually ruins my day, nor has anyone ever taken note on it or asked me to try and tone up a bit. And if they did, they’re really nobody worth knowing in the first place. While you’re bound to notice it, you shouldn’t obsess over it – nor should you get to a stage where something so insignificant makes you feel less worthy as a person.
The Today Show segment served as a huge reminder that everyone has insecurities. How often have you thought about Al Roker’s chest prior to him openly admitting his feelings on the matter? Probably not very often. (No offense, Al. When I think of you, it’s strictly weather-related.) Putting an insecurity out in the open will draw attention to something that has likely never received an ounce of public, negative attention before in the past. If it’s a nit-pick, and not anything that will jeopardize your health, the best thing to do is accept the flaw and realize that there are so many amazing things you could be doing instead of focusing on yourself pessimistically.
Next time you look at yourself in the mirror – whether or not it’s in a dressing room or in your own home – remind yourself to focus solely on things you’re absolutely proud of. Even if you’re having an off-day, or gained a few pounds after a vacation, your biggest critic will always be yourself.
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