Why is it so much easier to celebrate the beauty of others than it is to recognize our own unique traits? And when we do notice something different about ourselves, it's sometimes met with a critical eye or an inability to see its wonder.
It may take time and experience to accept just how great you are -- flaws and all. However, understanding this is an important step toward connecting with your strength and beauty.
Life coach Summer Engman penned a HuffPost blog entitled, "It's Time To Admit That We Are Enough," in which she discusses looking within for self-worth instead of seeking validation from others. She wrote, "Admitting we already are enough and have enough is to make an acknowledgement that God, or the universe, or whatever you want to call it, has already given us everything we need in order to have a meaningful experience in this life. It's to acknowledge that, in fact, we are perfect already."
So, for a lesson in self-love we asked HuffPost staffers to show us a physical trait that was once an insecurity or a feature they never considered beautiful, but now they totally dig.
Check out the photos below, read about their self-love journeys and don't forget to embrace your uniquely beautiful features.
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Growing up I was always self-conscious about my birthmark. Even though my mom constantly reminded me how unique and special it was, I always felt like it stuck out like a sore thumb on my face. It didn't help that 'Austin Powers In Goldmember' and that famous 'mole' scene came out when I was in middle school -- probably the most awkward time of my life and when kids are at their peak meanness. I thought often about having it removed. Luckily when I went to have it checked out by a dermatologist she told me not only is it safe to keep but would actually be dangerous to remove considering its proximity to my eye. Much to my mom's -- and eventually my -- relief, the birthmark stayed and now it's one of the favorite things about myself." Jamie
I've had quite the love-hate relationship with my small breasts. When all my childhood friends were blossoming into their lace, white training bras, I cowered in shame over the fact that I was still sporting cotton camis. Once it was finally time for me to get a 'real bra,' I still felt under-developed and unattractive. However, my disdain subsided once I enrolled in college and began to hear horrific stories about endless back pain and not-so-sexy lingerie. My cup may not runneth over, but I'm proud of my God-given cleavage!" Dana
Growing up, I saw my thick, coarse and curly hair as a curse. No matter what style I attempted to achieve, it would always end up as the same unruly mess that my classmates deemed a Brillo pad or a bad take on a Ronald McDonald coiffé. Trying to manage it in the mornings or in the hands of an inexperienced barber was a challenging -- and painful -- experience, too. For years, I thought I'd solved this problem by buzzing it off right down to the scalp, but ultimately this was not a flattering or unique look either. These days, I feel inspired by stars like Darren Criss and Adrian Grenier in having learned to embrace my curls. A good conditioner is necessary and I certainly don't wake up like this, but I take great pride in knowing I'll never go bald." Curtis
I loathed my height more than anything when I was growing up. I was the tallest girl in my class, picked on incessantly, hopelessly terrible at sports and would hit my head on prom decorations if I even thought about wearing shoes other than flats. It wasn't until I moved to NYC two years ago when I really started to appreciate my long legs. I noticed that other tall ladies not only owned their height, but they enhanced it by sporting stilettos. Not only that, I work for a publication that promotes body positivity in all forms -- an attitude I fully stand behind. Now I can confidently say that I embrace all 6 feet of me. And, yes, I absolutely wear heels." Lindsay
I call the goofy white bump on my tongue a birthmark, even though I'm confident that's not the technical term. When I was born, my mom thought it was a tooth. I named it Juan in 5th grade because naming birthmarks is perfectly normal behavior for 11-year-olds, I guess. It's been tested about 17 times -- always benign -- but my oral surgeon once suggested he remove it for 'aesthetic' reasons. Ever since then, I've been fully committed to keeping it around. Mostly because I'm enormously stubborn, but also because It's part of what makes me awesome." Julia
I grew to love my hands as I got older. A few compliments here and there made me realize that my crooked fingers were perfectly imperfect. And that made them beautiful." Alanna
I wouldn't say I've ever hated my gap, but as a child I definitely thought it wasn't 'right.' When I was little I used to tell people that I'd lost a little tooth, and that it should grow back any time now. Of course, that wasn't true. I constantly mentioned braces to my mom, but the high cost and the dentist saying I didn't really need them kept my gap here for good. I love it though. It's my trademark and I feel like it sets me apart from all of the other babes in the world." Chanel
When I was five years old I was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, a type of cancer chiefly affecting children in central Africa. After undergoing two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, the tumor in my abdomen disappeared and though I was pronounced cancer-free, I was left with two significant scars running across my stomach. There was a time when I hated my scars, mostly because they made me feel even more different from other kids than I already did as a very obviously queer child. But it wasn't long before I realized that my scars were tangible proof of the trauma I'd experienced -- and my survival. Today I love my scars. They are -- like my tattoos -- intimately connected to who I am and what I've lived through and exist as a reminder of both my vulnerability and my strength." Noah
It's hard to remember ever seeing a reflection of myself without three brown circles looking back at me. My two dark brown eyes have, for as long as I can remember, always been accompanied by my uninvited eye mole. I hated it for a long time -- it was a source of incessant teasing in elementary school and more than one first kiss has been awkwardly delayed with, 'Oh, wait, is there something on your eye?' There was no resounding 'ah-ha!' moment that made me love my eye mole, rather it was a gradual acceptance of the composite that makes up my face, and how very vacant that composite would be without it." -Jenavieve
When I was younger, I was very self-conscious of my size 11 feet. I had a really hard time finding shoes that fit and was often teased by my friends. Thankfully, as I have gotten older, I have learned some tips and tricks for finding shoes in my size and I have found a few brands I can always count on to go up to my size. I've come a long way since my teen years and have grown to love my feet -- after all, they help support my 5'11" frame." Michelle
If the sides of our faces are sisters, mine were Marcia and Jan. Marcia is the left side -- slightly insecure about her nose but still the star of the show -- to the contempt of right-side Jan, existing in Marcia's shadow. Many women feel like they have a 'good' and 'bad' side, but for most of my young adulthood I felt like my left side, the good side, was the only side that could be seen. After many years of making impolite demands on photographers and risking serious neck injury to avoid showing my 'bad side,' I saw a video of my right profile I just happened to like. I realized I was using my 'bad side' as a scapegoat -- to be fixated on my 'bad side' meant other insecurities would have to wait. I always liked how the right side of my face looked, and I finally realized that's just pretty much how my whole face looks. I've had this face for a long time, I don't want anyone else's, so I can't help but love it." Amanda
It's hard to believe that I used to think my curls were unattractive, unruly and unmanageable. I was on a constant mission to straighten them into submission and attempt to reflect the smooth, shiny tresses that rested ever so gently on the shoulders of all my white girlfriends. But thankfully with age comes wisdom and a great deal of self-acceptance. As I grew more confident and comfortable with myself I also learned to love my voluminous, kinky curls. I'm just sad it took me so long. Today my hair is a proud representation of my black heritage, my strength and my beauty." Julee
Over the years, I've really grown to love the two small moles on my back. To be honest, I never really noticed them when I was younger, but one day I just caught a glimpse of them and realized they were kind of awesome. Now, I'm all about wearing backless tops or flowy tanks to show them off." Julia
I grew up in the 90s, when plucking and waxing were celebrated and body hair was shamed. As a hairy girl in general, my dark, thick eyebrows (and slight unibrow) were prominent enough that my mom, who also has bold brows, allowed me start waxing at 13 -- that is, after I desperately and carelessly shaved off half of my left eyebrow in middle school. From then until I graduated high school, I did my best to tweeze and wax them to be way too thin for my face. When I left home for college, I decided to embrace them, which was luckily followed by the rise of eyebrow icons like Lily Collins, Cara Delevingne and Lucy Hale. Now, I barely touch them because they have become my favorite facial feature -- not only because thicker brows are "in" but because I love that I inherited them from the strongest, most beautiful woman I know!" Jessica
All photos by Damon Dahlen.
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