Training the Mind to Love The Mirror

As much as people tell you that looks don’t matter, the truth is that to a 20-year old girl, it does. And I needed to work with that fact.

For so long, I had lived under the notion that there was an inherent flaw in my appearance because of my hair loss. It seemed to be more of a widespread societal fact rather than an anomalous opinion.

However, in truth, people would obviously always comment nice things about my appearance to my face, and I realised that the bulk of the doubt was within myself. I realised that I didn’t care about seeking external approval about my appearance, I wanted it from within myself. I had read a lot about how people can train their brains in the same way that we train our muscles at the gym, so I figured I could apply that to loving myself as well.

I was never one to really dress up too much or spend much time thinking about my aesthetic either. I had always maintained a pretty simple style that reflected my thought process and personality, and that wasn’t something that I wanted to change.

Rather than going down the route of doing specific workouts for my body to look a certain way, or shopping at selected stores to accessorise myself in outfits that I thought would look more appealing, I really just wanted to love how I was at the time. Of course I would do workouts and shop with that mindset later on, but I figured that if I could train my mind to believe that I am beautiful enough as a raw and very vulnerable version of myself, I would be able to always see myself like that despite any external changes.

So, I started to compliment myself. At least two times a day. I forced myself to pick out things about my face that I liked, I complimented my own outfits that I put together, and I grew into loving my body. By pushing myself to do this daily, I discovered that I liked how easily I smiled in candid videos that my friends took of us, I felt more authentic in the way that my eyes were so revealing of my inner emotions, I started to recognize that I liked how soft my skin felt and how I was learning to feel comfortable in it, and I began to focus on how the delicacy of my hands and the strength of my legs felt and looked when I danced.

The truth is that, as much as you compliment that 20-year-old girl who is told that looks don’t matter, but is expected to fit into societal beauty standards, it is already ingrained in her mind to not internalise the compliment. We’re so deep-rooted in the idea that we need to put ourselves down with regards to our appearance, and instead of normalising self-appreciation, we have normalised “correcting” our own “flaws”. I definitely get weird looks or questions when I look in the mirror or at a photo of myself and my instant reaction is to compliment something that I see, because it is such an absurdly unorthodox concept. Some people call it being cocky or self-obsessed, but I prefer to call it confidence and self-love.

Despite the compliments that I gave myself and the photos that I started liking of myself, I knew that I felt extremely self-conscious about the bursts of cystic acne spots that I would sometimes get when I travelled, or the moon-face side effect that I hadn’t been able get rid of after my steroid medication, or the way that certain clothes didn’t end up looking like how I would ideally want them to when I wore them.

But in training my mind to think that I look attractive, I didn’t avoid any of these insecurities. I just learnt to put them in my back pocket when I walked out the door. I believed that it didn’t matter whether I had the most gorgeous hair in the world or none at all, and whether I looked “fit” enough or “radiant” enough, or “enough” at all. People would always find something to comment on to each other. My task instead was to make sure that I never became one of those people, and to ensure that I found myself feeling and looking cute on the way.

This is by no means a fool-proof ‘one solution fits all’ path to self-love, but I hope that it encourages some positive energy that you can hold onto when you next look in the mirror.

For someone who lost all her hair within a month and refused to meet people because she was so terrified, it takes a lot to gain back any level of confidence. But at some point, you realise that it isn’t going to come from anywhere else, and that after spending years pinning yourself down to your appearance, the only part that you will regret is that time that you lost chasing hair solutions rather than your dreams.

1 Comment

  1. Sangeeta Sethi says:

    Love yourself Sunena and rest assured hair or not we love you and are here for you! You are the daughter I would want… Hair/or not.. Always❣❤💓💞😍


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