Hello everyone!

This is my first post on here so I decided to write about something that I am really passionate about. 

For too many of my teenage years, the years supposed to be spent as a happy, reckless but fun-loving teen, I spent hating myself, scrutinizing my appearance and feeling dangerously self-conscious. 

The media's portrayal of "beauty" really frustrates me, and is something that our generation needs to change. Here is how my epiphany about the importance of #selflove was sparked. 

"I have recently been overseas. I usually return home feeling pretty low, sombre that my adventures have concluded and the fact that I'm back in my small little town. But this time, something made me reflect on myself.

Now I'm home and feeling more empowered than ever.

I was in the airport, waiting for my plane to be called when I decided that I would probably be bored and uninterested by the generic movie selection on the flight and so it would make sense to spend my last few coins on something to read. I glossed over several Cosmopolitan and Woman's Weekly covers, which all claimed to either hold all the best sex tips or recipes to make the best winter casseroles. Yeah, yawn.

My eyes fell on an issue of Yen, a magazine that I am plenty familiar with but this time, it caught my eye for an entirely different reason. The cover girl, actress/director/fashionista Chloë Sevigny, looked beautiful. A different kind of beautiful, however, to the groomed and glamourised Kardashian-esque models that posed half naked on the several other covers. Her nose was not chiseled and prosthetically perfected, her lips were not alarmingly plumped and she wasn't wearing next to nothing in order to sell her sexualised soul. Instead she looked real. I love her work, her words in issue 84 and everything she stands for. Chloe Sevigny has been in the spotlight for years, and despite having cameras and criticism coming at her from every angle, she has remained real, raw and beautiful.

Looking back on my trip I now realise that I spent far too much time wistfully watching girls strut past the cafes that I sat in, wishing that my legs were as thin as theirs, that my boobs would double in size and that my hair could be more silky and less scruffy and spaniel-looking. I sat with my younger sister at restaurant tables and each night we would pick out and complain to each other about all of our flaws and how many things each of us would change if we were able to. The fact that my sister is fourteen and already thinks she needs a nose job is truly, utterly messed up. Body image and self-consciousness is the most superficial but surreal thing both woman and men face in today's society. And while racism, gender issue and world peace are still of primary importance, this is something that affects us all, so let's talk about it. Let's clear it up.

As soon as I stepped off the plane and arrived home, I knew I had been hit by a curveball. A f*cking huge one. I got home and began to unfollow everyone on Instagram that epitomised "beauty" in the media's eyes. Out with the Kardashian's, fake chested bikini models and anyone else who's images no longer empowered me. I needed a break from everything that social media and celebrities force feed me through my screen. Social media is crazy, incredible and so, so powerful, yet so toxic at the same time. Ever since I entered my teenage years, all angsty and unsure of who I was, I have been fed a constant stream of Victoria Secret models, celebrities and their lavish lifestyles and anyone else who embodied what the media sold as "true beauty".

It is terrifying that the media has the ability to broadcast the ideals of beauty, body image and lifestyle before we have even been able to figure ourselves out yet. We, as young adolescents are so vulnerable and easily blinded to this messed up propaganda blaring from our screens, that we grow up thinking that beauty and perfection is only obtained by encompassing certain physical, superficial traits.

Myself and so many other adolescents have had their teenagers years darkened by having what little self-confidence that once bestowed inside us stolen, trampled on and never returned - simply because we are rejects of what society labels as "perfect". I was stupid enough, or maybe even just young and vulnerable enough to let that consume me. I have been so, scarily self-scrutinising of who I am and how I look for so long that I feel a sense of bereavement that I never was and will never be a happy-go-lucky, confident teenager who loved and accepted who they were. Instead I would stand in the mirror and ponder over everything I hated, my frizzy hair, barely existent upper lip, uneven skin tone, shoulders as wide as Australia, lack of hips..the list goes on. It shouldn't. I shouldn't have wasted so many golden, carefree years hating myself. Do we want ourselves, our sisters, our friends, our future daughters to grow up like this? Who is telling me that I am not curvy enough? Not skinny enough? Not good enough? We can blame it on the media, and it's heavily fabricated content that it encompasses, but far too much of these poisonous thoughts are generated from our very own minds.

That's where we start. That's where we finish.

"Beauty" is flawed, because beauty is flaws.

No one else has broad shoulders exactly like mine, or a strong nose like Chloë. No one else has eyebrows like you do or a jawline like your friend has.

Who decides what is beautiful? We do. We need to take back that power and use it to empower. Empower others to love and accept themselves.

"Admire someone else's beauty without questioning your own."

I have known this quote for years, but only now will I live by it. She may have enthralling and alluring turquoise eyes, but who said yours were just brown and lifeless? They could be deep hues of the finest cocoa or contain a sprinkle of bark from a huge wood of noble oak trees.

It's all inside our head. The choice is yours.

Chose to be happy, chose to embrace, chose to be real.

And that way, you'll always be beautiful."

Published by Maddie Mason