We’re all crowded around the too few mirrors in our shared house in Surry Hills, pulling at the fabric that clings to our unwanted tummy chub and twisting our faces as we pile on make up and play with our hair. “Sydney has made me so fat” “I feel like a potato” “why do I eat so much?” we’re all going at ourselves chiding the reflections in the mirror, it’s toxic. For a while I was happy with myself, I’d fasted, dieted and restricted myself into an acceptable size and now after a few months in Sydney I was back to square one. I cry in the shower and refuse to look anywhere below my face in the mirror, I go home early from a shopping trip because I catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window and feel embarrassed by my own face. The girls I live with are stunning, a lean blonde, mysterious brunette and curvy in all the right places mademoiselle. I look at them all in their tight clothes with pouted lips and tamed hair and I feel like the ugly duckling. Living with people twenty four seven and being exposed to their insecurities starts to take a tole on how you view you. Growing up the strongest woman in my life was always putting herself down. My mother was always dieting, trying a new life changing skin fad or crying over her hair and subconsciously, I guess, I’ve adopted that self conscious attitude. I don’t blame my mam and she’s still the most beautiful woman in existence to me. Actually I love and admire her because she is strong, hard working, a ferocious force of determination and perseverance and she’ll never see herself in that way, the way myself and everyone who knows her does. That’s the sad thing. All we really have to go on is that taunting voice in our heads, the one that pulls out the worst of societies dictations and plays it against the worst of our paranoia.Loving yourself is a battle, a struggle that is forever altering between highs and lows. I have this face, I live in this body, I inhabit this mind, forever. It is such a massive concept to digest and accept that this is you, that all the niggling in the world won’t fix the fact that you’re image is just the coating to something a whole lot more magical. I’ve read similar bullshit in my time, articles in magazines about self love opposite an advertisement for Chanel with a slim, beautiful model, with a healthy head of hair and a stable financial life all because she won the genetic lottery. But this is coming from a girl, who though she has no where near perfected the self love she preaches, has come to some kind of compromise with her being. Whenever I feel down about the physical, I take myself away from my ego’s negativity and bring myself back to the core of what I stand for. I compliment the women in my life, but I do so on their personalities, their accomplishments, even if they are the most stunning of humans I take them away from the fickle and remind them of why they are important. Building each other up is the single best thing we can do, making the people around us shine with the knowledge that they’re important, individually and as a part of the whole is such an empowering thing for us and them. It just isn’t rational to judge people on looks, they say beauty fades but if it’s coming from your essence, your soul, your life’s purpose, its gonna stick around in the way you communicate with the world, the way your eyes shine with passion, the grace of your words and kindness in your actions. Buy cool clothes, experiment with make up, dye your hair the colours of the rainbow, express yourself in new ways, announce yourself to the world, but remember that all of that is just a bit of fun, don’t make it all you are. I don’t value my friends and family because they have perfect skin, I value them because they listen, advise and keep me grounded, they’re the fun, light and shelter in my life. You are the only you and that is your beauty, make who you are count.