For both men and women, appearance means a lot. Feeling self-conscious about how you look is also very common in different phases of our lives. Most people grow out of their embarrassment about their appearance once they become adults. For people with anxiety, however, this is often a more challenging transition.
I remember hating my appearance for a lot longer than I ever should have. I hated going shopping for clothes and makeup and things because I thought, “What is the difference? Some clothes and makeup won’t change what I dislike about how I look”. I hated catching glimpses of myself in the mirrors in department stores, feeling so inadequate when compared to all of the photoshopped and touched-up pictures of gorgeous people lining the walls of the store. Only once I started trying out makeup, and fashionable clothes did I realize that looking nice is connected to feeling nice.
I think my close relationship with God also played a part in my preteen and teenaged self’s concerns and anxieties. I think I felt ashamed of wanting to look nice – I thought that somehow made me shallow and worldly. I had always heard so many Bible verses about preserving your inward beauty and not staying modest that I never considered that as God’s creations, we are able to present ourselves in ways that are both pleasing to God and to ourselves.
There are 5 things I try to remember whenever I feel myself falling into my old self-conscious mind-frame, and I will share them with you all. (Ranked from least important to most, 1 being the least and 5 being the most important).
1. Get rid of old clothes that you wear out of convenience, not because they look good on you or make you feel good.
- For a lot of people with anxiety, there is something secure and safe about what we know. The new is scary and dangerous. This applies to clothes and hair too. We do not like to consider that we are changing and getting older because that means we will eventually have to change our appearance to something more fitting for our position and age. No matter how much we dislike change, no one feels confident when their appearance is run-down and not suited to them—because of this, tossing old clothes can provide a massive boost of confidence even if it feels uncomfortable for a short time.
2. Find things you would like to try or buy to change or improve your appearance in the future. Use these as treats for yourself for reaching goals in life.
- It is okay to see things and say, “Ooooo! I think I would like to wear that!” or “That makeup/hairstyle might look nice on me!”. That does not make you vain or selfish; it just means you enjoy improving your appearance in new, creative ways. Of course, since no one can afford to buy new wardrobes or dye their hair every other weekend, these makeovers can be reserved for special occasions in your life, such as promotions, good grades, or birthdays.
3. Try a new look or hairstyle – something to change it up and get yourself out of the rut you have fallen into regarding your appearance.
- You should not just keep your ideas for personal improvement and makeovers as fantasies. A common habit for people with anxiety and low self-esteem is just to put off these changes and purchases indefinitely, saying “there are so many better things to spend my money on” or “I will try this out… someday”. Making little improvements to your appearance on a regular basis is both affordable and practical for keeping a positive image of yourself.
4. Practice getting dressed up nice even if you have no plans to see anyone or go anywhere.
- There is one thing I have realized when it comes to dressing up: if you look good, you feel good. When you are lounging around the house all day without seeing a soul, there is no real need to get all fancied-up if no one will see it. But this practice ultimately leads to feeling depressed and apathetic about how you look. Of course, it is okay to have lazy days. But when you do not make it a habit to make yourself presentable every day, it will be harder to want to do it when necessary to go somewhere or see someone. And with everyone stuck at home most of the time with quarantine, getting dressed up at all seems pointless. But to keep your spirit up, it is essential to exercise, eat right, and dress nice now more than ever before.
5. Stop comparing yourself to Instagram influencers or Hollywood celebrities.
- You could have probably seen this one coming. It is such a common thing to say nowadays. “You can’t compare yourself to celebrities; they have makeup artists and touched-up pictures.” Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to take that advice when perfect faces are thrown at us in every store, movie, and social media site. The practical advice I would recommend is to take a break. Take a break from all of the social media and advertisements and posters with perfect faces everywhere. Of course, it is hard to avoid all of that, but taking a break from social media makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself.
Of course, all of this being said, it is still important to remember who gives us our value: God our Creator and Jesus our Redeemer. We are first and foremost creations of God. This is the primary place our confidence in ourselves should stem from. Sometimes, however, we need an extra boost by bringing ourselves out of slumps and changing things up. I hope this list helps you as it has helped me as I have matured from an adult and have learned to love how God made me.
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Until next time!