One, Two, Three...Click: My Journey to Self-Love
by Marah Roque
1, 2, 3 click.
She strikes a pose. Face is looking away from the camera.
Growing up, I was never the pretty kid. I was always associated with adjective like smart, talented, nice but never pretty. Everyday I would be reminded of my flaws - at home, at school and even on the street. Friends, family and strangers love to make fun of me, because of my dark complexion, flat nose and baby fats. They even composed a jingle by inspired my own insecurities: "Joy baboy piniritong unggoy" (Joy is a pig and a fried monkey). They would sing in chorus.
In my family and friends' eyes, I look like a fried monkey. A fried monkey. I remember being mad at them, but I couldn't recall questioning God why He made me the way He did.
Then teenage years came.
It's when being pretty became a big deal. It's when I started comparing myself with other girls. Why can't my skin be as flawless as hers? Why am I not as slim as them? Why can't I be pretty? I would put powder on my face every hour, borrow my best friend's cheek tint and starve myself to lose weight, hoping that I would finally get everyone's attention.
But obviously, it didn't work that way.
1, 2, 3 click.
She strikes a pose. Face distorted.
Mum would always tell me off for always doing a wacky face in every photo: "'Wag ka nga gumanyan, dalaga ka na," (Can you please stop doing that, you're a lady now), she says. As years passed, I have embraced the fact that people would always make fun of me; because I am the total opposite of the society's standards of beauty. I am not tall. I am not think. I am not pretty. But instead of anger, I have finally learned to deal with them with a little bit of laughter.
One thing that I will always be grateful to have is my sense of humor. I believe it is a gift from heaven. If it hadn't been for my sense of humor, I wouldn't be able to laugh at my own insecurities and eventually learn to flaunt them. Every time someone would crack a joke about how ugly they thought I was, I would agree and laugh with them.
People say that when you've learned to laugh at your own flaws, no one can use them against you. And I know there's a power in that. But when you've allowed yourself to be defined by people's opinions, that is a total different story. And that's what happened to me. I have embraced all the jokes thrown at me to the point that I believed that's my truth. That I am nothing but ugly.
Little did my mum know, my reason for pulling off the best wacky poses was because I am afraid. Afraid that people would take notice of my imperfections again, so I'd just settle for being their clown. In my head: I'm not pretty, but at least I could make people happy.
As I filled the room with laughter, I slowly lose love and respect for myself. The battle was no longer between me and them. It is now between me and myself. The loud becomes quiet. The confidence turns into doubts. The joy is replaced by anxiety.
This is where I started questioning God: Why did you make me feel small and weak? Why can't I be more?
I shy away from mirrors and kind words. I push away people who embrace me as a whole. I fear of giving myself to others, because I always think I'm not enough. I will never be enough.
In the midst of my struggle with self-love, I have realized that maybe God doesn't want me to be the person I pictured in my head, because there's a much bigger deal than being pretty - purpose.
He gave me purpose - to inspire others by being just myself. I share my life stories and showed people who I really am - flawed and all. And in the process, I have learned to accept that I may not be pretty, but I am beautiful in my own way. I am beautiful - not by society's standards but by His standards. I am beautiful by my capacity to love, to give, and to be comfortable with my own skin.
I am worth knowing not because of how I look, but because of how I view the world with so much depth, passion and grace in my heart. I deserve to be pursued not because of my flawless skin, but because of my ability to see the good in the bad and smile amidst struggles. I am more not because of who I am, but because I am loved and made after His Likeness.
There are moments that I still forget not to be hard on myself. Truth is, I'm still in the process of putting myself first and of believing that I am enough. That I am more than enough. I am a work in progress, but this battle is no longer a battle. I'm looking at it now as an adventure. A journey to self-love. And I'm claiming it will be an amazing one!
1, 2, 3 click.
She strikes a pose. Bliss in her eyes. Face finally looking at the camera.
about the author
Marah Roque is a twenty-something who’s irrevocably in love with stories, food and the great outdoors. She shares her life-adventures on her Youtube Channel and writes on her blog, Life with Marah.