5 Aussie women on how they beat their beauty hang-ups

They prove hanging up on your hang-ups is indeed possible

Digital Beauty Editor / April 15 2021

We’ve all heard the saying: nobody is actually looking at you, because they’re all too busy looking at themselves. But though we’re well aware of the accuracy, the trope being true doesn’t mean it does the trick. Because here’s the thing: we’re looking at us. Constantly. Now, more than ever before.

We’re analysing photos, we’re assessing our reflections, and worst of all, we’re attacking ourselves when those things don’t live up to the impossible expectations set by our inner monologues and Instagram feeds. We spend our lives poring over and picking apart every part of our appearance, and so a vicious cycle ensues.

Welcome to the world of beauty hang-ups: the features we can’t forget about because we’re convinced they’re ugly, unsightly and hell, downright unacceptable. The cause might have been a callous comment made on the playground that you’ve carried with you ever since. It could be the result of the voice in your head playing ‘hater’ instead of ‘hype girl’. Maybe it’s because the picture of ‘beauty’ being portrayed by society doesn’t look a thing like you, and so you’ve been conditioned to view ‘differences’ as ‘flaws’.

However it came about, having a hang-up is a heavy burden to carry. And yet, it’s usually one we carry alone. Say you confide in a friend about your crow’s feet concerns; she’ll hit you with the “don’t be ridiculous, forget about them, they’re fine” line and move right on.

Maybe they are. Or maybe your comment made her look at your eyes, which made her think of how you’ve probably been using those eyes (which she really does happen to think look perfectly smooth, by the way), to stare at her big nose. Or acne scars. Or ashy elbows. The list goes on; and as an outsider, all of the potential offenders would seem more ridiculous to you than the next.

But when it’s you, it doesn’t feel ridiculous. It feels all too real. And the truth is, ‘forgetting about it’ isn’t always an option. Breaking up with a beauty hang-up is like breaking up with any toxic thought that lives rent-free in your mind day in, day out. Sometimes to truly let go of something, you need to first acknowledge the power it holds over you, and then make a conscious decision to take that power back. You might not be able to ignore it and you might not even be able to appreciate it at first, however, accepting it will set you free.

Acceptance may not happen overnight. Hell, it may be a journey that takes years. Beating a beauty hang-up is never going to be easy. But it is possible, and these Aussie women have been there and have the stories to prove it…


Thick brows

"In my teens, my thick curly brows were always such a struggle to deal with. Even if I plucked them super thin (which I did), they never sat right and were different from all my friends’. I was called “bushy” in primary school because of them, so I’d pluck them until there were literally five hairs left.

Honestly I don’t know if I ever got to a point of 'accepting' them, I think the beauty standards just changed and I was relieved that I could finally fit into them! With anything, trends change. We’re all constantly trying to fit into what’s on trend but things eventually come around and we should just learn to accept the things about ourselves that might not currently be on trend, because that’s what makes us unique. But I also don’t think there’s any shame in tweaking parts of yourself that you are insecure about. As long as you are doing it for yourself and not for the validation of others.”



Body image

“My weight and body type/image have really affected me over the years. Comments were made about it, based off of the ‘society norm’ that close-minded and uneducated people were unfortunately used to – there wasn’t a lot of acceptance towards [different body types back then]. For many years I tried to change, hiding everything from my mum stomach to my cellulite and flabby skin because it wasn’t ‘normal’, and it wasn’t what was being shown to society as ‘beautiful’.

It took me around eight years to reach some form of self-acceptance. To this day I’m still learning new things in regards to confidence, self-love and self worth. Accepting it wasn’t easy, I won’t lie – like all journeys there are days where it might be a bit overwhelming. But beauty is deep within; it’s never about your outside image. What you feel on the inside is most definitely what you will show on the inside and that’s one of the biggest things I had to learn. Stand tall and be proud of who you are. There can never be another you.”



Facial hair

When I was young, people would compliment how thick and beautiful my hair was, but would also tell me how noticeable my facial hair was, [too]. I hated my facial hair. I blamed it for [causing] acne, I blamed it when my makeup didn't look good on me, and I blamed it when I didn’t feel beautiful. I made numerous attempts to remove it, but was [always] scared it’d [grow back thicker] and people would talk about it again.

[To move past it], I focused on my happiness [instead of dwelling on my hang-up] – being happy and content shows a person’s real beauty. Over time, I realised it’s a small beauty hang-up that’s all natural and that I can still feel beautiful with it. So if anyone is struggling to accept anything about themselves, I’d say focus that energy into something that makes you happy, and know that we all have our own beauty in us.”



Stretch marks

I developed stretch marks on my boobs and hips (like any teenager) as I matured, and I used to be so embarrassed of them. I'd wear high cut tops and board shorts at the beach so no one could see them. It developed from my own internal thoughts, and comparing myself to girls I saw in glossy magazines. There was no such thing as the body positivity movement when I was younger, and every magazine photo was warped to eliminate the existence of acne, stretch marks or even pores on models. I used SO many different oils, creams and lotions in the hopes that they'd disappear. [Then] one day I woke up and figured out that every woman had stretch marks. I remember being at the beach, and seeing these beautiful, thin women who still had cellulite and stretch marks.

From that moment, I made a vow to myself to be kind to my body, and appreciate all of the things it can and does do for me. We take our health for granted so much, and it's only when it's taken away do we realise that superficial things like stretch marks and cellulite don't matter! If anyone is struggling with their stretch marks, I'd tell them to really own it! Stretch marks turn into beautiful silver streaks that remind us of all we've been through, and just like tigers, they are our stripes.”



Skin pigmentation

“I've always had lots of freckles and moles which have affected my confidence and self-esteem. I felt like my skin was the first thing people would notice when they looked at me. When I was a teenager and before I wore makeup, I would use Photoshop to edit photos of myself to remove the freckles from my face and even out my skin tone. Once I started wearing makeup, I then used concealer and foundation instead.

When I left school, I quickly realised there were more important things in life to worry about – eventually I just stopped caring so much and didn't feel the need to cover them up anymore. I think it's important to recognise that we are our own worst critics and unfortunately tend to judge ourselves more harshly than others. At the end of the day, we all need to be a little bit nicer to ourselves and embrace our differences. Also, if you're following brands or individuals on social media that feed into your insecurities and don't make you feel great, then I strongly suggest you hit that unfollow button.”

Celebs have also opened up about beating beauty hangups here's how Keke Palmer overcame her cystic acne...

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