When you look into a mirror, what do you see? There's no retouching and there's certainly no filter.
Mirrors are brutally honest; they show the good and the bad with eye-opening clarity, so it isn't shocking that males and females alike notice their own imperfections when looking in the mirror.
Why is it that we feel the need to pick out the imperfections of others? Are our own not enough? Or is it simply a coping mechanism?
I'll admit to having looked for imperfections in others to make myself feel better.
It started with looking at celebrities, who are widely considered some of the best looking people on the planet.
If Miley Cyrus can live her life to the fullest with cankles, so can I! But that wasn't enough. I took a closer look at the people around me to see imperfections that we had in common. Thicker legs, big teeth and frizzy hair were all things I harmlessly noticed about others.
I made comparisons in my mind to justify those things about myself because it is easier to be part of a group.
I felt more comfortable with myself because I wasn't the only one who had these imperfections.
But there's a turning point where harmless noticing and positive self-comparisons both become harsh judgments.
We look at people and make assumptions based on their looks.
Thicker legs equate to laziness and frizzy hair to a lack of care. They become labeled, either in our minds or worse, out loud.
When we put these comparisons into words that others hear, they often become judgments. People's entire beings are judged based off of one small thing.
It's a social norm to judge someone by his or her looks, and it's getting out of control.
We grow up being fed clichés. Don't judge a book by its cover, put yourself in the other person's shoes. Yet, we fail to hear the meanings behind those statements.
We don't see how easy it is to become a person with a mean inner monologue. It's not easy to stray from those negative thoughts and not verbalize them.
Think about the person you could become if you put yourself in someone else's shoes and stop judging that book by its cover.
When you look into a mirror, what do you see? Beyond the imperfections that, at the end of the day, help to make you who you are, what do you see?
I see a big smile, full of big teeth that make my parents smile. I see my sense of humor, which has the ability to make all my friends laugh.
I see beyond my surface because if I judged myself solely on my looks, I might not like myself. As much as I'd love to say I'm fully content with what I see in the mirror, I'm not. But that's okay.
I give myself a break because there are other things I like about myself.
As individuals, we hold the ability to look deeper than the surface, to find the positive in ourselves in order to get out of bed and function each day.
We owe it to ourselves to extend that skill and mindset to others, if not for them, then for us in order to make our very best selves.
Body image isn't something that will go away anytime soon.
As a culture, we're slightly obsessed with things like thigh gaps, perfect eyebrows, visible muscles and a generally perfect body.
I won't say none of these things matter, but they aren't nearly as important as other aspects of a person, like heart or personality.
I personally wouldn't want to hang out with someone who has no heart, even if she does have perfect eyebrows.
It's a good lesson to learn that personality is what makes people attractive.
It's not something you can be told, but something you have to experience for yourself. And when you do, your eyes will be opened to a different kind of world.
In that world, people are seen as more than an image, and it's awesome.