It has taken me six days to write this personal story. I would write a few lines but then quickly erase it because I wasn’t content with what I wrote. Finally, I realized what the problem was. I was trying to write as someone that I am not. I was trying to be the broken girl who came back from rock bottom and became successful.
I am not that girl.
I am pessimistic, I complain all the time, I have no self-esteem or confidence, and I’m much too sensitive for my own good. But out of all these flaws, the most prominent one in my mind is beauty.
I would never define myself as beautiful.
Before I attended a Beauty for Ashes workshop I had many ways to describe beautiful—skinny, long hair, perfect smile—but then I realized this beauty is only superficial, there are so many other ways to define beautiful.
One of the first workshops I attended spoke about perspective. During the workshop, the facilitators showed a quote that said how we view ourselves is dependent on what others think of ourselves. In my head, everything began making sense. For years I had been ridiculed in school and even before my elementary years, my family often criticized my body image.
So maybe it’s a little too late for my nonexistent self-esteem to come back from the dumps but there was something else from that first workshop that stayed with me. Beauty for Ashes had their own definition of beauty. Beauty was not only described by physical characteristics but what went beyond what others saw, like our personality or passion.
After this workshop, I realized that I often let everyone else define who I was. My parents told me I was going to be a doctor, my grandfather said “Thank God! You’re at last smart,” and the rest of the world didn’t see me at all. That moment I decided to start defining myself because I was tired of living someone else’s life.
So I may never see myself like a Hollywood superstar but who cares? I rather be defined for the more important things like being genuine, friendly, kind, free-spirited and driven. Instead of finding my confidence in my physical appearance, I found it within myself and that kind of beauty is eternal.
— Stephanie, 19