When thinking about our flaws, the majority of us try to find ways to hide or erase our quirks or personality defects rather than ways to embrace our imperfections. Everyone has something that annoys them, whether it’s limp hair, a curvy bottom, a quiet attitude, or a too-energetic personality. It seems there’s always something to work on, and the case proves true that the grass is always greener. You always want something you can’t have, just because goals are how we keep moving forward.
Many times, this urge for self-improvement turns a little mean and destructive. While it’s never a bad thing to improve yourself, often times our obsession with our quirks gets a little skewed. You see thick, bouncy hair on commercials and frown at your thin, frizzy mass. Or you see thin, blonde models gracing covers, and compare how you don’t measure up. One thing that we often times don’t notice, though, is that our perceived imperfections are what set us apart and make us unique. They give us character and let us bring something different and valuable to the table.
In an effort to not become one cookie-cutter society, we should embrace our “flaws” and see them for what they are: Differences. But that’s easier said than done. Here are six tips on how to embrace your imperfections and begin to appreciate what they bring to the table.
1. Surround Yourself With Positive Women
You know how sometimes you really, really hate that you have freckles or that you're really shy, but then you meet a woman that knows how to laugh about it and makes it seem like a great quirk? After being around her positive, unapologetic way of thinking, you tend to begin adopting the same mentality, right?
That's why you should surround yourself with positive, forward-thinking women and resources that either encourage you to love all parts of yourself or help you see certain "flaws" in a new light. According to writer Amir Motahari of Elite Daily, "We are all reflections of the people we keep in our lives and interact with on a daily basis. Their actions and behaviors all resonate and subconsciously influence our everyday choices." Whether that be bloggers, upbeat acquaintances, body-positive publications and websites, or inspiring people on social media, if you build a forward-thinking tribe of people around you, they'll start rubbing off on you.
2. Find Unconventional Looking Role Models
When you only see one idea of beauty over and over (see: tall, skinny, blonde), anything that falls outside of those guidelines automatically feels wrong or ugly. To change your way of thinking, surround yourself with unconventional looking role models that are every bit as beautiful as their cookie-cutter counterparts. And by noticing that beauty in them, and realizing that their imperfections are what makes them special, we can begin to feel the same way about ourselves and our "flaws."
According to beauty writer Garbrielle Korn of Refinery 29, "It's no secret that beauty is overrun with impossible-to-attain standards of perfection. However, we're often drawn to women because they do not look like what everyone expects. Unconventional beauty is far more compelling than cookie-cutter features."
The more quirks you see = the more quirks you love.
3. Try To Work With What You Have
Whether your imperfection is physical or a personality trait, for one day try to highlight it rather than hide it and see what happens. Chances are, you made it so much more terrible in your head than it actually is in reality.
The things we hate about ourselves are complexes, not actual facts. If we embrace them and learn to work with them, we take out the steam of their negativity. For example, according to Elaina Verhoff, writer at SheKnows, "Lady Gaga recently responded to criticism of her weight gain by launching a Body Revolution,' posting pics of herself in a bra and underwear and encouraging fans to do the same. 'May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous,' Gaga wrote on her blog." By taking the perceived flaw of a rounder tummy and owning it, she made it into something positive, empowering, and above all else, normal. There's nothing ugly or negative here.
4. Find The Positive In Your Negative
If you're having a hard time accepting your quirks, try to change the filter of your thinking and see what happens. Meaning, instead of focusing on the negativity of your traits, see what positivity they bring. If you struggle with being reserved and quiet, realize how that, on the flip side, makes you an excellent listener or a keen observer.
In my case, for example, I've always disliked my Viking-esque calves. There were many sighs huffed in changing rooms every time I tried on mini dresses or skinny jeans. While they can be annoying sartorially, they also make me an excellent runner and allow me to walk for miles and miles without getting tired (which helps when I'm sightseeing new countries!). To every negative, there's a positive.
5. Realize That Your Imperfections Are What Give You Humanity
No one likes a person that's completely put-together. We like to aim to be that type, but when you actually meet one, they're down-right annoying. A person with a few scuffs and kinks is so much more personable and welcoming. Once you realize that, you can start to feel like your imperfections are your tools. Just think of all the times you thought someone's shyness was sweet, someone's bossiness made them appear strong, or someone's non-delicate nose gave them character.
According to Elaina Verhoff, writer at SheKnows, there's a term for that: Flawsome. "Yes, flawsome is an actual term. It was recently coined by trendwatching.com to describe brands that show humanity by being open about their flaws. In their words, 'Human nature dictates that people have a hard time genuinely connecting with, being close to, or really trusting other humans who (pretend to) have no weaknesses, flaws, or mistakes.' Who wants that?" We connect with flaws because we all have them. And when you notice someone else with their own struggle — but still enjoying what those qualities bring to the table — you feel a positive and inspiring connection towards them.
6. Use Them As Tools To Help Others
If you've ever taken a high school girl under your wing while she was going through an awkward stage that you remember all too well, you know helping someone get through a rough patch can feel pretty great.
Well, you can do that with your imperfections too. Own those character flaws, learn to love them (or at the very least, accept them), and turn them into something that can spread inspiration. Reach out to people or friends struggling with the same acceptance and share your story and experiences. Not only will you help them become kinder to themselves, you'll help yourself along the way.
According to Jaclyn Witt, a writer with muscular dystrophy, "I didn’t realize that trying to fit myself into everyone else’s perceptions and society’s perception of 'normal' was denying everyone and the world of all my gifts and who I really was. That my disability made me special and gave me a platform to try and help others all over the world with disabilities too. That it gave me such a deep capacity for love and empathy that I wouldn’t trade for anything."
Accept and love yourself — and then spread the love.