The struggle of choosing to be natural

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I think increasingly in today’s society it’s difficult to make a conscious choice to stay natural. By ‘staying natural’ I don’t mean letting your pit hair grow past your waist or never wearing make-up – of course not! I mean staying away from surgery, fillers, hair extensions and weaves and other fairly invasive enhancements which Instagram models and celebrities display in abundance on constant streams of ‘perfect’ photographs which tell us how we should be – and which often cause us to feel inadequate as a result.

I’m still natural – but only just

Over the course of my journey to semi-self-acceptance I’ve considered most of the above countless times. I even went all the way to the surgeon’s office for a boob job before he (rightly) turned me away because he could see that my motive wasn’t right and my perception of myself was skewed because of my body image issues. although in my opinion surely anyone without medical need who considers potentially risky surgery which involves a foreign body being implanted into you and general anaesthetic has some sort of body image issue?)

Let me define what ‘natural’ means for me, though. Natural is no permanent hair extensions or weaves (I have clip ins for special occasions but rarely wear them, as I spent a lot of time battling hair loss and getting my hair thick and long again). Natural is no false lashes (I look after my own to keep them long). Natural is no surgery (boob jobs, lipo, bum implants). Natural is not feeling bad with no make-up on.

Why is staying natural difficult?

Whilst my journey started with me wanting to change myself ‘for the better’ into the person I felt I should be in order to be liked, now when I have rare episodes of self-loathing they tend to be because I’ve inadvertently been exposed to n image of someone who I can never look like, or someone who I can look like, if I have some sort of work done. the first one is heartbreaking, because i can’t change how I look (and shouldn’t – there’s more on that in this post here) but the second is plain dangerous. Because suddenly, that look that for some reason I desire (and is coveted by many others) becomes attainable. It’s also difficult because these two groups aren’t easily defined – for example some girls have weaves which look incredibly natural yet enviably perfect, or subtle facial enhancements such as Botox or lip fillers which give them a ‘perfectly natural’ appearance when in fact the opposite is true. What we see as ‘natural’ online is actually fake – and if that’s confusing for those of us who know, how must it feel for those who don’t (especially young people and children)? And with social media and an increasingly image-obsessed media, we’re constantly exposed to images of these ‘naturally perfect’ people – it’s the world we live in.

I call surgical procedures and sen-invasive beauty treatments like peels and fillers ‘enhancements’ because that’s exactly what they do. So you almost feel like when you choose to be natural, you choose to be sub-standard. Less than perfect. And that’s the biggest draw to opting for fakeness over liking who you really are and the beauty you were born with- and the most potent reason behind why staying natural is difficult.

Why do I choose to stay natural?

Only one thing has stopped me from giving in to my self-enhancement cravings. And that’s my desire to stay natural. For starters I really dislike having things stuck on my face or on my body – fake tan, fake hair, fake lashes – even fake nails. This is one of the reasons I choose to grow my hair long, to grow my nails long and take care of myself on the outside and on the inside nutritionally to make sure they’re well nourished. But more importantly I just feel as though being fake is cheating a little. I know in my heart of hearts that however much I crave that surgery, if I take it, I’ll be letting myself down. I’ll be conscious that every compliment I receive isn’t mine – it’s for a surgeon, or a product, or a weft of hair. I always say that although nowadays I do receive a lot of nice feedback about how I look that it doesn’t change how I feel inside – deep down, I’m still that girl who is being bullied and I tear myself to shreds feeling ugly. But one thing that feedback does do is remind me that if I change who I am externally, the perception of who I am internally those around me have may also change – and nothing’s worth risking my relationships for.

So how do i ensure I can live with myself with out giving in to these cravings? Aside from my golden rules (you can read about these here) I do invest in myself with a number of key products and routines. For example, instead of wearing fake lashes (even on nights out) I use an oil-based growth serum on my lashes which works really well. I only use natural shampoos and fresh aloe vera to wash my hair with. I moisturise my skin with natural oils.

Compared to someone who doesn’t do any of these things, I might seem unnatural or overly obsessed with how I look. But actually these things simply nourish my natural body and whilst they go some way to ‘improving’ it they don’t change my appearance drastically. They’re just part of the method I use to help me to live with myself. Nobody can be expected to walk around with no make-up and no clothes on carelessly in a world so image obsessed – and Tough cookie isn’t about that. It’s about encouraging and praising small changes.

Why should you choose natural?

The bottom line is, it’s easier to go fake than to stay natural. It’s easier to quickly ‘fix’ the part of yourself you don’t like or obtain something you feel you lack and be showered with appreciation than it is to try to love what you have and risk fading into a background of ‘perfection’ when you do.

When you choose to go natural and ignore aesthetic pressure, you start this process of self-acceptance. It won’t happen overnight – especially if you have self-esteem issues, but gradually you will start to feel better about yourself. You’ll have more time for the things you really love in life, because you only be so hung up on how you look (and you won’t be spending hours in the salon or in front of the mirror) Before you can ‘go natural’ completely, you have to not give a shit about other people – about what others are doing, and about what others are thinking. And that’s easier said than done (I’m not at that stage yet!). But as I said before, small steps add up and eventually you realise you’ve come a long way. So start with the golden rules and work your way towards not self-love, but self-acceptance. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself – and for your children and the next generations to come.

Need help? You can read all about getting to a point of self-acceptance here –

 

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