Confidence Secrets From 4 Women Pushing Back Against Beauty Standards

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Beauty standards are engraved into girls from a young age. Our Barbies and dolls come perfectly packaged with their hair, makeup, and nails already done. Most of us played with those toys as we watched our mothers get dolled up for the day. Beauty seems fun and playful until we evolve into teenagers. Then, many of us feel the pressure to conform to trends and change our hair and makeup.

The parts of ourselves we once deemed “just fine” have become our biggest insecurities. Our bodies, skin, and hair begin to change while comparison sets in. This, at times, creates a divide between women, mainly because we feel like we’re not “good enough” to be her friend or because of jealousy. We fail to realize “she,” too, has her share of insecurities. 

If these insecurities are not tackled, they only increase as we get older, like a bad rash we can’t get rid of. We apply more makeup, buy more clothes, and wouldn’t be caught dead skipping a Botox appointment. This mentality can spread to our daughters, and the cycle continues… unless we start to get more honest about the beauty journey. 

That said, below, 4 inspiring beauty content creators share how they navigate the ever-changing beauty industry and the standards it comes with. 

Melissa Baker

Melissa Baker is a content creator who knew the pressure of beauty standards until she started creating her own rules. “Cutting my hair was the first time I felt beautiful,” says Baker. Just a few years ago, Baker was diagnosed with traction alopecia, a disease exacerbated by iron deficiency, tight hairstyles, and years of chemical relaxers. Early signs of alopecia typically begin with bumps on the scalp or hair loss at the beginning of the hairline. In the natural hair community, healthy hair is praised and can come with the pressure of keeping up with a standard of beauty that is hard to maintain. 

With that, “I was spending a lot of time worrying about how people thought I looked versus how I felt about myself,” Baker says. “Cutting my hair made me embrace my beauty,” Baker adds. “This journey has made me realize health and confidence are important. I drink lots of water. I’m constantly nurturing my hair with rice and rose water. This has been great for my hair and overall glow, making me feel beautiful.” 

Angel Edme

Angel Edme began finding self-acceptance when she started her healing journey. She describes her “year of self” as a pivotal turn towards body confidence and the beginning of her fashion journey. “I had a year where I wanted to unpack a lot of who I was. Journaling was a way to face parts of myself that needed to be addressed and get to know myself again. This helped me find a lot of confidence,” says Edme. 

Working on her insecurities allowed her to express her confidence through clothing and experimenting with her personal style. “I used to be the girl that always wore all black,” she says. “My confidence journey gave me the strength to begin wearing more color.” To Edme, there’s no better time to be a curvy woman in fashion. Many brands are becoming more inclusive, encouraging all body types to feel their best. Edme adds, “fashion is about the confidence you bring to the piece. You wear the clothes; the clothes don’t wear you. But this can only happen once you start doing the inner work to find your confidence.” 

Abby Maureen

“I’ve been suffering from acne and hyperpigmentation since I was a teenager,” says Abby Maureen, a skin health content creator. Most of her acne journey was spent with dermatologists who would prescribe her harsh treatments and chemicals. Maureen was given tretinoin, which is often used to treat acne. She described the skin medication as harsh, and when she’d express this, she didn’t feel heard by her dermatologists– a struggle many women of color face in medical offices. 

Maureen’s journey only became more challenging when she started school in America. “I’m from the Caribbean, where acne is normal; I didn’t know clear skin was a beauty standard until I came to the U.S. The beauty standards here made me feel like I wasn’t good enough,” says Maureen. But she refused to let these judgments hold her back from embracing her beauty. She began experimenting with different regimes and sharing them online to help others combat their acne journey and feel good in their skin. Maureen shares, “my biggest beauty secret is to not let others determine your beauty. You determine that for yourself. I stopped comparing myself to others on social media and everything changed.”

Denise Francis 

Denise Francis, the owner of the Self Love Organization, says her journey to inner healing began at nine years old. “There was an argument going on with my family. I remember running to the bathroom and crying. However, when I heard my family looking for me, I wiped my tears and told myself to be strong,” says Francis.

This mentality led Francis to struggle with anxiety for years. She eventually began a self-love journey and took a deep dive into the parts of herself she had suppressed for so long. “Self-love is about returning to the old versions of yourself,” says Francis. “You’re breaking down the old versions of yourself you suppress to survive, and you’re returning home,” Francis adds. 

Once Francis returned to herself, she created The Soul Study Journal, a curated book of therapist-approved journaling prompts that allow us to heal and uncover our true inner beauty. “As you teach yourself to heal, you will teach your daughters to heal. Through the inner work, we will release ourselves and our daughters from the strong Black woman to the healed Black woman.” 

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