Erin Treloar is the Founder of RAW Beauty Talks, a non-profit promoting the mental and physical health of girls by increasing self-esteem and cultivating positive body image through education, events and media.
When I was a teenager I developed an eating disorder. I was a people pleaser with big ambitions, and at some point I linked success to my weight on the scale, grades on my report card and whether or not people liked me. If Instagram had been around I would have been the person whose self worth was tied directly to the number of “likes” I received on a post.
I stopped listening to my body and heart in order to create a life that the rest of society deemed as perfect. I sacrificed myself for affirmation from others, and the closer I got to my goal weight, the more unhappy, depressed, anxious and isolated I became.
At the age of 16 I spent three months in a Vancouver hospital program. And after lots of counseling, countless self-discovery sessions and the wisdom that comes with age, life is very different 12 years later. I am truly happy, I have a beautiful family, a career that I am proud of and a strong sense of self.
Here’s the thing: life didn’t stop throwing curve balls my way. It didn’t stop teaching me lessons or dropping sadness, fear and anxiety at my door. I didn’t suddenly get the perfect body (stretch marks, chewed on nails, wrinkles). With every year that passes, my physical state moves further away from the one our society celebrates. There are other struggles too — I sometimes question whether I’m on the right career path, and my relationships with friends and family are still, at times, somewhat complicated.
What did change? My mindset. There are 3 core beliefs that help me see more beauty in the world — no weight-loss, age-defying make-up or expensive wardrobe necessary!
1) Imperfection is beautiful. We are taught through media and advertising that beauty is a limited ideal and that when we achieve it we will find happiness, love, success and affirmation. I know firsthand that this is a lie. Being beautiful can bring momentary happiness, but it is fleeting and empty and always leave you wanting more. Life is not perfect and we are not perfect.
When we stop trying so hard we free ourselves to just be, and that is the most effortless yet powerful place we can exist from. Think about the people you are most drawn to in life. Think of the people you love. Are they perfect? Are they beautiful?
2) Honoring yourself is beautiful. When we make time to do the things that light our soul on fire we show ourselves kindness, respect and love. Feeding your soul creates positive energy that flows into every other area of your life. It creates a chain reaction because it gives others permission to make time for the things they love. Giving to yourself is the greatest way to give to others.
When we choose to listen to that inner voice and honor our wishes the universe gives us everything we could ever need. What do you do that brings you the greatest joy? Do you make time for this frequently?
3) Appreciation is beautiful. Learning to be grateful has had a profound impact on my life. It’s easy to wish for the things we don’t have, and sometimes I still get stuck in that mindset. Social media, advertising, comparison, and our natural propensity to strive to be better can leave us feeling empty, unhappy and not good enough. By shifting our focus to the things we do have we literally re-wire our minds over time to feel safe, satisfied, happy and at ease.
This doesn’t mean we stop trying. We just do it from a more grounded place. If you can’t think of something you’re grateful for, start with the pot you boil water in or the fact that you can read this page. What are you grateful for? Try listing a couple of things before you fall asleep each night.
Beauty is not something to be attained. It is all around us. We simply have to learn how to see it. We’re on a journey to discovering beauty, confidence and self-love over at RAW Beauty Talks. Come join us for the ride!