I hope that this letter finds you well. But I know it doesn’t. Being 18 years old does not make you a grown up. On paper, it does. In real life, it doesn’t change anything except for the fact that it makes people expect 10 times more things from you.
I know that you care about what people think even though you keep saying out loud that you don’t. You are hard on yourself and society always makes you feel that you’re not good enough. But most of all, I know that people underestimate how hard you can be on yourself when it comes to your physical appearance, your looks. Some would say it is a superficial way of seeing life but when it affects and influences your life and your well being in such a huge way, I think it is time to put this out in the open.
In many ways, I know now that this is about you wanting more, wanting to feel good by looking good. And thinking that happiness comes with good looks and being popular. Fortunately for you and everyone else, life does not work that way.
When you wake up in the morning and you go to the bathroom mirror, I know you’re trying to avoid looking at yourself. You feel you look even “worse” than the rest of the day, your face seems “swollen”, the bags under your eyes seem “bigger” than ever and the dark circles that you have from that nasal septum deviation don’t help at all. You will still have some of these in your life in 10 years from now but they will not matter as much anymore, they will not ruin every day.
Then you start brushing off your teeth and they don’t look as white as you wish they would. You clean your face with a purifying gel and you still cannot get rid of the acne and the scars and you start feeling like shit because “why were you born in this body while most of the world is pretty?”. And the insecurities keep rolling like snowball heading for hell. You get out of the shower and you avoid looking at your naked body in the mirror. You’re too skinny and you feel like a pack of bones and nothing more. It’s like the opposite of attractive. And everyone kept telling you since you were 3 or 4 years old that you’re way too skinny, you don’t look healthy and you’re ugly that way. I know that you didn’t wear tshirts for many years because you were afraid of showing off your arms. You are not wearing shorts because your legs are too skinny and you’re ashamed of them. The way you’re used to seeing yourself keeps getting worse because you think about it too much.
Your feet are too weird looking, the stretch marks on your lower back don’t allow you to enjoy being out in the sun with your friends. You get frustrated of the fact that when you smile uncontrollably, your upper lip disappers and it shows your gums. I know you don’t feel like going out of the house anymore because of the acne and you tried every single treatment there is. And the snowball becomes an avalanche…
When you go to school, people make fun of you. When you get home from school, people make fun of you. They sometimes beat you up. They bully you. They call you all sorts of names. As if you being hard on yourself is not enough, you feel like the whole world outside your room is against you as well. It feels like you’re up against the world, every single day.
I know you. I used to know you. I used to be you. I know that you used to hide all these things. But hiding them only makes it worse because they bring you down at some point. No one will show you how to accept yourself and all your flaws. But you already got the key to everything that you need.
First of all, I would tell you to be kind. To yourself and others. Be kind to your body. Be kind to your soul. And be kind to your mind, your brain. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t judge others. In every moment when your mind starts going on a judgmental path (I like that, I don’t like that about me or others) there’s only one solution that will work for you….. STOP IT! Just stop your mind from thinking like that. Try to train your brain to think in a different way, one that does not require labels and LIKE and DISLIKE. You can find it for yourself, discover what works for you. But you just need to understand that the way you were used to seeing the world until now was not helping you. Au contraire. So when one way does not work, try another one.
You don’t need people to tell you that you look good. You don’t need to like or love the way you look. You only need to accept the body that you’re in, the body that you were given in this lifetime. Accept that there’s a reason for everything and you might never find out what that reason is so just… accept that YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. And there’s nothing you can do about it – except if you feel like going to the gym, eating healthier, doing yoga, going to a therapist, reading a lot of books about self discovery and other things that might help. But just accept it. Now.
Don’t wait for someone else to love you to get yourself to that point. Do it today. Right now. Close your eyes and repeat this “I accept who I am today. I accept where I am today. I accept myself and I release any grip on the past.”
Later on, you will learn that no matter how much you went to therapy, you did yoga, you read books, ate healthy, did sports and no matter how much you talked to people & mentors, the only one that could stop everything was…. yourself. At some point, you chose to accept that you are human. And that living life is not a meme and photos of Hollywood celebrities that look “perfect”. You are the only person that could help yourself. And since you started doing that, life felt easier, happier, lighter and there was a peace of mind that you never knew it existed.
You may not be perfect but you can be human… and that’s what life is all about, ain’t it?
And if you need some motivation, think about this: what if you’d choose to stop seeing them as flaws and start seeing them as your UNIQUENESS, what separates you from everyone else. Instead of criticising, you can celebrate them. And maybe, someday, if you continue to be a good & kind guy who goes out into the world with an open mind not with a bag full of labels, maybe you will get to make a living out of the way you look. Maybe the kid that feels like a victim could become a fighter, could start expressing something beautiful and even work as a model and actually be appreciated for the way he looks. The sooner you do it, the sooner it will happen.
It will not be easy to shut your brain up and quit the old habbit of thinking a certain way. But it will work. And I am sending you some photos to look at. They’re the first polaroids that I did with a modelling agency recently. They will soon be sent out in Europe and Asia and you might travel the world because of them and the way you look. Did you ever think that could happen?
In 10 years from now, you will still have days when you open Instagram (it’s a futuristic electronic photo album that will both inspire you and consume your time) and you will wish that you look like someone out of a picture with more muscles, with six pack abs and a buffer body. But just remember to yourself that you can choose everyday what “beautiful” means and you can try not to let the world influence that.
I am sending a lot of love, kindness and most of all… COMPASSION to you and anyone dealing with stuff like this. I was recently reminded how hard & sad it can be not to feel comfortable in your skin and I thought that I could share some thoughts with you. Everyday you make a choice on how to see life and how to set your mind up to have a different vision. And everyday you have an opportunity to get a different view at yourself, and change anything that you think could be better. But there’s more on that note that I will write about in a future letter.
And FYI: you made me who I am today. And even if there were times I didn’t like you, I THANK YOU.
PS: The photos attached are from the first shots done in natural light for a modelling agency. They’re meant to be sent to casting agencies around the world so I might even get to travel the world because of this.
Photos by Daniel Vrabiuta / Models Under Management