10 Women On Finally Accepting Who They Are, Perceived Faults and All

As imperfect people, we’ve all experienced having something to be insecure about. Maybe it’s a cosmetic concern like a bad acne problem, or an internal struggle of not “being good enough”. It’s an awful feeling and sometimes it can send people into dark pits of depression. If you’re dealing with something like this right now, please, hang in there! We talked to ten amazing women who bravely shared their stories with us, and we hope this inspires all us to love ourselves just as we are.

Steph Puen and Andy Centeno

Steph Puen and Andy Centeno

Steph Puen, Theology PhD student

I’ve struggled about my weight (I weighed as much as 180 lbs) and being good enough to meet others’ expectations, especially since I’m usually told that I’m too young to be doing what I’m doing now. I’m still overcoming my issues and I think that I will have to continue to deal with them years from now, or even throughout my entire life.

So I take it one day at a time, by reminding myself that I'm more than just those aspects of myself, and that I wouldn't be here today if I couldn't genuinely do good. I'm more than just a fat body, and it doesn't need to define who I am or what I can do. It also helps that I have a supportive family, friends, and a boyfriend who show me love and give me an extra boost whenever things get particularly bad.

Andy Centeno, English teacher and blogger

I was so insecure about how I looked before that I didn’t like it when people talked to me. My battle with severe acne left me with deep scars (literally and figuratively) that played a huge role in killing my self-esteem. I would hear so many comments about my looks, like "Maganda ka sana, kaya lang hindi mo inalagaan skin mo". So I would drown my skin in makeup in desperate hope of covering my flaws.

I struggled with this for years but I have since learned about acceptance and keeping a positive attitude. I kept researching about my skin condition and consulted professionals while searching for the right skin care and makeup for me. I documented this journey on my blog and it really helped me cope! I found out that a lot of other people share the same issues, and found inspiration in the online beauty world (Cassandra Bankson of diamondsandheels14 and Em of My Pale Skin) that helped me accept myself and love my physical flaws.

Lara Antonio and Pei Pica

Lara Antonio and Pei Pica

Lara Antonio, Spectrum Collabs co-founder and MVNDO magazine editor-in-chief

Weight is something I’ve always struggled with. Back in college, my self-loathing was almost crippling: I’d force myself to eat in front of people when they thought I didn’t eat enough and then force myself to puke it out.

Getting to a point where I’m actually comfortable with myself was really hard. Last year, I took a break from it all and focused on doing things that made me happy. Things then somehow fell into place. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% over my insecurities though. I still have days when self-loathing gets the better of me because of the feeling of being too fat. I may have gained weight but I’m also less anxious about it because I’ve changed my priorities. The goal used to be “I have to be skinny” but I’ve realized that a better aim would be “I want to be fit”. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment for what you ate but a celebration of what your body can do. I think I look healthier now. It’s really just a change of mindset.

Pei Pica, events and PR coordinator

I was super shy in high school and only had a few close friends. I always felt that other people were more intelligent, more beautiful, and more successful than me. I always felt like I was never good enough, so I was afraid to come out of my shell. My fear of making mistakes made me miss out on a lot of things that I could have learned from. But my mom told me that if I don’t get over my insecurities, I wouldn’t go far in life.

Out of my desire to qualify for my dream school, I ran for student council treasurer and won. From there, my confidence skyrocketed. It was all a matter of taking the big leap. I became more sociable and pursued things I used to be too afraid to do – runway modeling, painting, mountain climbing – and I’ve still got a lot on my bucket list! Never let fear get the better of you because you’ll lose a lot of great opportunities and experiences.

Ohne Lopez and Raiza Contawi

Ohne Lopez and Raiza Contawi

Ohne Lopez, Teach for the Philippines alumni ambassador

I struggled a lot with my self-worth when I was a teenager. I knew I was capable but I felt miserable thinking that I would never be as smart, as talented, or as pretty and popular as my other classmates. I thought that I was overshadowed.

My father said that I didn’t have to compete with others; I just had to defeat my weaknesses and carry them with my strength. I realized that my scratches became wounds and my stumbles became nosedives because I kept comparing myself to others. Self-worth isn't supposed to be a competition with the people around you; it's about coming to terms with who you are. I've learned to embrace myself by doing things that give me purpose and fulfilment. I’d love to tell my younger self, "No one is overshadowing you but yourself! So don't compare, just keribels!"

Raiza Contawi, professional makeup artist and YouTuber

In college, I felt insecure around working people. Being the chatty one in my circle of friends, it was strange that I would avoid conversing with people way older than me and preferred listening to them instead.

It helped that I knew what I was insecure about. This self-awareness helped me address my fears, and became a guide for finding solutions. I’ve found that there’s nothing better than being true to yourself and playing to your strengths. I’ve learned to see people, especially the good ones, as inspirations instead of sources of insecurity. This experience helped me gain good friends who teach me a lot of things and often ask me about my insights (mainly about beauty) as well. Since then, whenever insecurity strikes me, all I do is focus on the strengths and draw that positive energy to working hard to achieve a better version of myself.

Chuchie Ledesma and Janna Estrada

Chuchie Ledesma and Janna Estrada

Chuchie Ledesma, Maybelline New York official makeup artist

I was often insecure about my face and body; I'd ask the universe why I wasn't born with a pretty face and a svelte body. As cliché as it sounds, at 29 I've finally reached a stage in my life where I genuinely love myself, up to the teeniest wrinkle. It wasn't an easy feat; it took me my whole life but the only way I was able to fully conquer my insecurities was to stop comparing myself to others.

I'd probably tell my younger self that, too: you are unique and it is a huge insult to your God-given skills, talents, and awesome self every time you belittle yourself. Stop longing for the things, experiences, and kind of beauty that are meant for others and you will be unstoppable.

Janna Estrada, demand planner

Growing up, I didn’t seem to fit in the mass media’s “standard of beauty”, so I never considered myself pretty. I was a sporty, morena, and tomboy – a stark contrast to my girly, mestiza older sister. I really thought of myself as the ugly sister before since I was never complimented like my sister.

While that made me insecure for quite some time, I stopped caring and learned to accept myself for who I was. I’m not sure when or how it happened but I became more comfortable in my own skin and began to like myself more. I felt happier and more relaxed because I tuned out the “standards” and focused on my strengths. I started going to the gym and working on my fitness, and it made me realize how strong I can be. You can’t stifle yourself by adhering to someone else’s standard of beauty. Make sure you’re happy, that you feel good about yourself, and just keep doing your own thing; everything else will follow.

Nix Ceballos and Mayesa delos Santos

Nix Ceballos and Mayesa delos Santos

Mayesa delos Santos, professional makeup artist

I became a single parent at a very young age. Seeing girls my age enjoying their freedom made me feel lonely and insecure. I was too concerned about not being able to do the things that I wanted, but as I got older my priorities have totally changed. I think less of myself and focus on how to give my children the life they deserve. 

My career helped to boost my confidence and lessen my worries. I am able to support our needs and sometimes enjoy a few perks of the job. Being a single mom is not easy, especially if you become one at an early age. But being self-supporting and actually do it all by yourself is very fulfilling. The trying things that happen to us have their purpose. Just use them to become a better person. 

Nix Ceballos, professional makeup artist

I used to see competition in everything I do. It was so internalized that I would lose sleep over the thought of possibly falling behind my contemporaries, or not doing as well as my accomplished siblings. Now, I’m definitely not as worried as I used to be - I don't lose as much sleep, I'm more comfortable at work, and I don’t compare myself to others as much.

What I did was to focus more on doing the actual work rather than overthinking it. I realized that you can only truly control one aspect of all possible outcomes, and that's your output and yours alone - so make it something you can stand by with conviction, or at the very least, live with. 

I became my own competition, my own benchmark. In anything I do, it is my personal rule to always do better than my last work. I compare myself with my contemporaries less and less, and look to them for inspiration rather than competition. I have learned that with discipline and hard work, growth is sure to come. It’s easy to drown in a competitive industry. Instead of fighting to stay afloat, work your way from the ground, lay your roots deep, and rise with the tides. Sthira and Sukham - be firm so that you may be free. 

Submissions have been edited for clarity. Header image via Raiza Contawi.