Whether it’s a brow that never behaves, our height or the way we speak, we all have something that’s caused insecurity or pain over the years. To everyone else it’s nothing; to you it’s everything.
Being acne-prone and oily I’ve certainly complained about my skin, and while my hormones have calmed down as I’ve reached my 30s, one constant is this tiny, almost indiscernible red dot between my eyes, right on the top of the nose, before my forehead. Sometimes friends will comment on it, while others have never noticed, even after decades. It’s an “imperfection” — and it’s one of those things I’d never change about myself. I’ll actually smudge off my makeup to let it show, and I like when it shows up in photos of me.
Self-acceptance is one of those lifelong pursuits that many people chase after. It’s all too easy to compare yourself to others, but comparison is a thief of joy — that is until you learn to say: “Hey, guess what? This is me and I like it.”
Here, 10 women share the qualities they treasure and would never, ever transform.
“My dark circles.”
For 32 years, master certified life coach Stacey Boehman tried to hide her dark circles. The existence of these so-called imperfections made her feel ‘less than’ when she compared herself to women who didn’t have them. She tried everything to get rid of them or to cover them, but it was fruitless as they are genetic, passed on through her Native American heritage. But a year ago, something changed: Stacey was watching television and noticed a makeup-free celebrity who had her same dark circles. “I thought, ‘That looks so beautiful on her.’ And then I realized, I could think that about myself,” she shared. Instead of working to cover them, she says, “Now I think I’m just pulling a posh celeb move when I don’t have makeup on. I like to think of it as part of my exotic-ness, and now I love it. Being comfortable in my skin and proud of my heritage feels way better than rejecting part of my body.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Choose carefully the things you say to yourself. We teach people how to treat us. If you are talking down to yourself, you will let the world talk down to you … When you move through the world treating yourself with respect, you command it with every room you walk into.”
For a long time, senior public relations and digital strategist Mageida Sopon was hesitant to laugh out loud. Because of her distinct sound, kids at school would make fun of her, causing her to suffer from low self-confidence growing up. It wasn’t until middle school when she signed up for choir and found a supportive community of friends that she let her laugh — and optimism — light up the stage. “Now everyone says they can recognize me when I am present in a room … It’s now a part of who and what people attach to my persona.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “It isn’t easy for you to accept what you deem are ‘flaws’ but those are things that actually make us stand out in a crowd.” If you learn to dismiss societies standards, she says, “No one will miss that negativity. Because that is what it is: negativity that we don’t need in our lives because someone else is telling us how we should see ourselves.”
Given the fact Lara Smith, the co-founder of SheWorth and the founder and CEO of Lusome, works in the fashion industry, it’s surprising she once doubted her unique flare. As she started in her career and in her past marriage, she never felt as if she fit in; those who were sophisticated and elegant were revered, and even her ex-husband didn’t like the way she stood out, in style and in personality. “I had to mute it every day,” she shares. But as her confidence in her abilities and in herself grew, she never let her quirkiness hang out in the closet.
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Being authentically you is one of the ingredients to a fulfilling and happy life. When I let go of the expectations of others for me, it was liberating and opened up so many new joys. My quirkiness can put people at ease and help me be in the moment.”
As an artist and stylist, Kristy Rice says if she had a $1 for every time someone asked her to wear her hair down, she’d be quite rich. Kristy’s long hair is one of the traits she’s always loved about herself, and since college, she has sported it in a bun. She calls it her signature — and something she’d never give up, no matter how strange others seems to find it. “I’ve heard ‘Well you only wear it up, so why not cut it off?’. Long hair is my treasure kept just for me, not something I feel compelled to show off to the world,” she says. “With long hair atop my head I feel like the world is mine. I feel put together and confident, ready to tackle anything. It is my armor in so many ways.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Hold confidently those things that make you feel safe, powerful and impervious! These are your treasures no matter what ‘advice’ or suggestions you may hear otherwise.”
While some people may call Tashieka Brewer’s nose unconventional, she loves it. The entrepreneur and founder of Pink Girls Run the World says, “I love how it fits my oval shaped face, perfectly highlighting my cheekbones and almond shaped eyes. If my nose with any thinner it may throw off how my face is framed. I also like how my nose is similar to my grandmother’s nose and when I see myself in the mirror, I like how I will always be reminded of her.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Self-acceptance begins with intention and is something that needs to be nurtured. I advise women to celebrate their strengths. Don’t let society define who you are and what is beautiful.”
By softness, travel blogger Lia Garcia means in her physical appearance and her personality. As she puts it, she’s “soft as a pillow all over” — from her hips, stomach and face to her heart and approach toward life. “I feel everything deeply: I don’t have a hard outer edge. No walls, no shells, nothing. I’m soft, through and through, outside and inside.” Though some people may comment on her weight or how she wears her emotions on her sleeve, she believes her softness is merely a layer above her strength. “I’ve worked hard for my strength; I’ve honed it in the gym and in the therapist’s office, and I’m so proud of it. I’m really strong and I’m really soft … and you know what? That also means I give the best hugs. If you ever need one, just let me know.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Treat yourself like your own best friend … Cheer your successes, loudly: even when nobody else is … When you screw up, treat your failures as learning opportunities and practice forgiveness.”
Chelsea Bear, Senior Account Executive at Fish Consulting, was born with Cerebral Palsy, a physical disability that affects her mobility, primarily in the way she walks. Growing up, she faced hurdles — including being accepted by others. Instead of looking at those as setbacks or struggles, she finds gratitude in each of those experiences, since she believes they improved her outlook and give her the ability to push forward. “I continue to persevere and chase my dreams — whether that be surpassing career milestones or walking a mile without needing to take a break. I confidently say often how I would never want to change the fact that I have a disability,” she shares.
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Nothing is more empowering than fully accepting yourself as you are. It’s definitely an ongoing journey that isn’t always easy — I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m still working on it — but once you have that lightbulb moment and feeling of loving yourself and being confident with who you are — whether it’s physical or not — it will be nearly impossible for outside interactions to bring you down.”
“My loud mouth.”
When Gianni Spradley, the CEO of Fifteen East Media Group, walks into a room, you definitely won’t miss her. She’s loud — and proud — of her voice. Though this confidence wasn’t born overnight, she’s learned to fully accept that she is unusually expressive, and she’s found a way to be unapologetic about it. Though she’s never rude and she’s aware of her surroundings, her volume will rise until someone asks her to turn it down a notch. “I do get slightly irritated when I’m asked to ‘calm down’ — because 9 times out of 10, their tone is super judgmental. It’s just me.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “Just do you — and don’t let other people’s opinions dictate how you should feel or carry yourself! As long as you are operating from a space of love and positive energy, push through.”
“My grey hair.”
While many women don’t find a grey hair until their 30s, for Meghan Ely, the president of OFD Consulting, the process started at the age of 14. To fit in, Megan started highlighting her grey strips, then doing all-over color in her 20s. By the time she was 35, Meghan was visiting a salon every eight weeks, doing her roots once a month at home and using an expensive color stick in between. Finally, she decided enough was enough. And guess what? People loved her natural shade. “I’ve received more compliments about my premature grey hair than I ever did prior. It works well with my skin tone, and I feel like I can be bolder with my makeup as well,” she says. “I hear from a lot of women in a similar boat, especially those who are also constantly coloring their hair and considering the move. It inspires them to do the same thing.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “If you’re going grey, consider embracing it. It’s amazing how freeing it can be. I am a public speaker so I have worked with a colorist to blend my hair as it grows out so it looks professional. But it’s been great to see that salon bill drop more and more as I become 100% grey.”
Through her childhood and teens, Stacy Schwartz, the founder and CEO of Ketanga Fitness Retreats, hated her freckles; she looked different from her friends and the attention made her uncomfortable. But as she aged, she saw that they were hers — and they had value. “I really learned to love them while traveling. I saw the responses from different cultures and realized just how unique and special my little dots are. I love that I stand out in a crowd,” she shares. “Plus, they kind of represent my personality: may seem a little all over the place but when you take a step back it all makes sense.”
Her advice for self-acceptance: “You’re born your most authentic self which includes any and all ‘quirks.’ If we didn’t have them, we would all be the same — and that’s pretty boring! Once you start to embrace what makes you distinct, you’ll realize how much happier you are.”