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Mirror, Mirror, Loving What You See

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Good evening, my name is Surayya, and my oratory is entitled “Mirror, Mirror, loving what you see.” As I speak to you today, I aim to make this speech more than just a simple act of oratory. This is neither directly about you or me, it is about many of the ties which bind us all. This is more than an oration, this is a global conversation.

Global, in terms of world-wide, well yes, but this has a diversity which is not external, it is an internal issue which affects us all. This is a facet of our humanity, a powerful part of the human experience.


“Self Esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves” – Nathaniel Branden.


According to Do Something. Org , ninety-one percent of women are unhappy with their bodies. To all the women in here, isn’t it sad to hear that within the sisterhood, the majority of us are unhappy with how we look, and only a mere nine percent seem to be pleased with their image? Seven out of 10 girls believe they are not good enough, and that they don’t measure up in some way. The ways in which they feel they don’t measure up are said to be: looks, intelligence, relationships with friends and family members. Within the population of our girls, seven out of 10 suffer from ongoing feelings of inferiority.Over 70% of girls ages 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks. These girls, suffering from those painful feelings, battle with the subject of their worth everyday.  (all info in this paragraph is from Do Something.org) of
Along with the unhappiness that are ingrained in us when we look at ourselves, we also exhibit this unhappiness in an unhealthy disdain for our appearance, not only for our facial features, but also for our bodies. Body-image and self-esteem have a clear correlation due to the fact that when one is happy with their physical being, body included, they are more likely to be happy with themselves. Today, as sad as it is to say, the majority of people around us struggle with paralyzing feelings of inferiority, commonly known as low-self esteem. We live in an age of self-doubting, attention-seeking behaviors that we use as a ploy for others to validate us. The need for validation has encompassed our minds, every day, every hour, there is a need for others to remind us of how beautiful, smart, successful, or intelligent we are.


Through the medium of social media we are constantly posting, trying to make our presence known to the world. We live for the comments, the likes, any bit of attention that we can get from anyone- whether complete strangers, or individuals who we may know in real life. We no longer are able to internalize our self-esteem issues, and through that internalization, introspect and come to realization of why we do the things we do. Why do we enjoy posting every bit of our lives online? Is it for genuine self-pleasure, or is it to receive the false sense of validation and acceptance that comes from the likes and comments we receive?


Now, more than ever, there is a high, almost impossible physical standard that is being set for all of us. We now put more emphasis on being ‘’perfect’’ and ‘’flawless’’, than we do on being ‘’real’’, ‘’kind’’, ‘’strong’’, and ‘’determined.’’ Looks have become everything to us, with the way we look constantly consuming our minds. This pressure to ‘’conform’’ to these impossible standards has ended up slowly disintegrating our self-worth. Now we no longer want to be seen as flawed physically. We let the images of the media, most of which are extremely photoshopped and unrealistic, dictate to us as to how we should look. We have more individuals who concern themselves with following the trends set by media moguls than concerning themselves with following things of greater importance, such as goals, a college or high-school degree.


That is our main culprit. We have let the forces that surround us control how we view and interpret beauty. Beauty should never be something of a standard, we should have the freedom to interpret beauty how we please. We should make it our mission to find beauty in all things. If we believe in God, and believe that he is our sole creator, the creator of the universe and all that exists in it, who are we to say anything on this earth is ugly, or is not of formed 'perfectly''? Does the God we serve hold beauty to a standard? No. As far as I'm concerned he made all of us “fearfully and wonderfully.” Everything on this earth is his and because of that fact, everything that is living exists with beauty. As Song of Solomon 4:7 says, ''You are altogether beautiful, my love, there is no flaw in you." That's how God sees us, as perfect, as flawless. Why can't we view ourselves and each other in the same way?


My fellow females, why do we feel the need to show our bodies in an effort to prove how beautiful, attractive, and desirable we are? Why should we look to outside sources to prove to us our worth! We should already know that we are worthy. We are already beautiful and intelligent. Never should there ever be a time when someone causes you to question your own worth. For the males in here, why is it so necessary to prove your manhood to everyone? Why do you feel you have to sleep with x amount of girls, or own a certain amount of sneakers to feel as if you are worthy of love and respect? Never look for others to explain to you who you are. Keep it in your heart always that you are worthy, intelligent, and capable of everything you’ve ever dreamed of being.


True self-esteem, and self-love come from within. Self-Esteem, the ability to believe in yourself, to walk in confidence knowing who you are, knowing your value, pursuing your ambitions relentlessly and owning your individuality, that is one gift that no one else can give you. True-self-esteem can never take the form of a physical gift, it can’t be easily transferred from one person to the next. Our-self-esteem is our interior light. It is the very core of our internal being. Our self-esteem does more than shape who we are, it affects our lives in every way possible. Those with higher self-esteem tend to take more chances in life, they believe they can do it so they at least try. They do not limit themselves, they walk in faith always, knowing that God will be with them every step of the way. Those with low-self-esteem live a very surfaced existence. They often are content with mediocrity, and never dare to challenge themselves in new and exciting ways. They are content with being average, why? Not because they don’t want to grow but because they don’t believe that they are CAPABLE of growing. That is the way in which self-esteem alters our lives in a major way, by showing us our CAPABILITIES.


I, of all people know this world can be cold. We live in an age where the virtues of empathy and compassion are becoming increasingly rare, with most people saying whatever they want to stay about you, in your presence, turning a blind eye to the fact that you may be standing right there, hearing their every word. Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words can never hurt me, anyone familiar with that phrase? As much as it is common to declare that words don't hurt, they definitely do.


People can be cruel. We live in a world that will not spare anyone's feelings. A major reason why children develop self esteem issues as early as 7 years old is because of the way children treat each other. As a young girl, I was teased and taunted a lot, and I used to let every word, name call, etc., chip away at my self esteem. I went from having low self esteem, (normally girls receive a drop in self esteem during the onset of adolescence, as research has proven by Goodchoicegoodlife.org), to having little to none. I didn't have the confidence I do now. If anything, I was the farthest thing from confident. I used to compare myself to others constantly, using them to represent the standard as to what I should be. I didn't fully accept myself, I didn't accept SURAYYA, in all of my uniqueness. I didn't know that what makes me unique, makes me strong. I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to fit everyone else's standard of beauty. I didn't fully accept my own.


I sat on social media, looking at likes and comments, I was looking for validation, I was looking for someone to tell me who I am. I looked for others to build my worth, I wanted others’ comments, likes to be investments into my self-worth, I didn't invest in myself, I looked to the world to invest in me. I sacrificed my beliefs in efforts to keep friends. I based my worth off of my social media profile, and the amount of friends I had.


So what did God do? He brought me to a place where I had to learn to be strong. All the “friends”, I had depended on to give me a sense of worth, well they all left me. I had to learn to not let my self esteem, my belief in myself, rely on anything or anyone that exists on this earth. I looked to him for the strength to build up my self esteem, and he did help me.


There has never been a proverb containing as much truth or validity as the fact that beauty is skin deep. Oftentimes when we hear this, that beauty is skin deep, that beauty lies within the eyes of the beholder, but within these sayings, sayings which we should use to find strength and refuge, when we hear them, the doubt still resonates strongly in our minds.


If beauty is skin deep, why do we only value beauty in its external forms? Why do we only wish for our daughters to be BEAUTIFUL but not KIND, HONEST, SMART and STRONG. Beauty is so much more than how someone looks, in fact beauty had very little to do with looks in my eyes. Well what is beauty to you? Beauty to one can be long hair, nice eyes, clear skin, an individual with an exuberant fashion sense, or someone with what seems to be just the right size, height, or amount of curves.


"No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful." - Eleanor Roosevelt


Beauty to me is strength. Beauty to me is kindness. In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, a legend in his own right, “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” How do I define beauty? In my eyes one is only beautiful if they are able to blend the strongholds of the heart and mind, in order to achieve that “formidable combination”, one in which an individual uses their heart and mind to lead a them to achieve greatness within our world.


Beauty is open to each of our own interpretations, it is we as the people, the masters of our being, who CHOOSE what we deem beautiful. Why not choose ourselves? Why not choose everyone else. There is something beautiful about everyone. There is something beautiful that exists in each and every person in this room, in this city, in this world. We have to choose to see our own beauty. We have to make that conscious choice to see ourselves as beautiful.


Growing up people will try and steal your confidence, they will try their best to bring your insecurities to light in an effort to bury your self esteem. They don't want to see you shine, to own your individuality, to be the star that you can be, the star that exists within us all, they'd rather see you fail. Failing and miserable with multiple insecurities, allowing them to have a sense of power over us. In these situations we allow the very things people say affect how we see ourselves.


We no longer fully love ourselves in the way that we should. Due to our lack of self love, we lack the love and appreciation needed to fully love and care for each other. So many problems maybe, in fact, the majority of these problems are caused by a lack of self love. Through self love, we learn respect, as we respect ourselves, in turn we grow to respect others. Through self love, we learn tolerance. When one learns how to tolerate themselves – to accept our very flaws and shortcomings, and accept that those flaws are in fact our blessings, and what sets us apart, then we can tolerate others. "I'm starting with the man in the mirror," If we start with ourselves, start with the love problem existing within us, we will be better people and consequently, inspire others to do/be the same.
"A man cannot be comfortable without  his own approval." - Mark Twain


I know it won't be easy at first, but I want you to get into the habit of complimenting yourself. I want you to tell yourself that you are beautiful or handsome. Tell yourself that you are capable of doing great things. Tell yourself that God has amazing plan for you, and that His plans will come to pass. "Mirror, Mirror, loving what you see" is all about how we perceive ourselves. We control how we choose to see ourselves. No one has that control but us. Remember, ''no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.'' (Eleanor Roosevelt). Love yourself today. Make sure that you compliment yourself as many times as you need. Relish in your beauty. Celebrate yourself today.






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