Kelly Rowland recently penned an article in which she revealed her struggles with seeing herself as beautiful:

“It took a long while for me to know that I’m beautiful. I remember going through this phase when I was younger of wanting to pass by mirrors and not look at them. That was so ridiculous. I’ve learned now that beauty starts from within. If you don’t know your worth, if you don’t know your value, if you don’t know how fantabulous you are — it’s going to be hard for other people to see it. Being appreciative of self is beauty to me.”

It’s hard to imagine a girl who looks like Kelly Rowland failing to see herself as a knockout, but her sentiments are not uncommon. Many of us spend years trying to find the beauty in ourselves, while some never do. The global beauty industry brings in billions of dollars each year playing to (and encouraging) our insecurities. Fashion magazines, films, videos and television promote standards that would suggest that beauty is actually a rarity. And even many of those women who fit those ideals, like Rowland, still don’t like the way they look.

Despite constant affirmation from my family and even strangers, I never considered myself to be pretty until I was about 16; one of my best friends at the time said to me: “You are really beautiful, you know that?” And I didn’t. I didn’t feel that way at all until she said that and I guess because I thought she was so pretty, I took her words to be the truth. But since that validation came from someone else, it was unsurprisingly fleeting.

It’s taken me years to truly believe myself to be beautiful and there are days in which I’m still not the biggest fan of my looks. However, I’ve learned to realize and appreciate the fact that these are my eyes, my nose, my lips, my hair … this is me and I couldn’t look like anyone else even if I tried. I learned to love how I look even when the eyeliner is washed away and the big bushy ‘fro is braided in plaits for sleep. And I realize that even with narrow hips and a flat butt that contradicts the ideal “thick sista” build, I am a cold piece of work.

It isn’t because of what men think of me or however much attention I get on a particular day. It’s because I have to see this face and body everyday so long as I have the good fortune to be alive. It’s because I love myself on the inside and I think that I am an awesome person, so how could I not also be awesome on the outside? As Rowland said, if you aren’t convinced of your gorgeousness, who else is going to believe it? While the thoughts of others should not matter as much as your own when it comes to your self-image, if you project self-loathing and carry yourself like you feel unattractive, the world will take its cues from you.

If you are reading this, you are beautiful. You need to believe that with your entire heart and you need to walk the world with that attitude. While a toned tummy, a flawless weave or even a nose job may make you feel even more attractive, they are all for naught if you don’t believe that you are beautiful on your own. You can’t wait for a man or a woman to anoint you beautiful; you have to claim that on your own.

That said, Clutchettes, let’s have a self-love party today! What makes you feel beautiful? What do you love about yourself most? When did you begin to feel beautiful? Sound off!

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