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When you look in the mirror, do you also tend to focus on what is not good or beautiful enough? How is it that we set the bar so high and always have something to complain about?

That critical voice within yourself

Even now that I have flown to the other side of the world for modeling, I suffer from that critical voice within myself. You would think that in my position there should be no reason to feel insecure, but maybe that is exactly the reason I do. Generally, I am kind to my reflection. All day, I am surrounded by the most beautiful men and women on Earth who I feel genuinely happy for. Of course there is always something to find that makes the other person more beautiful or talented, but I know now who I am and what I have to offer.

As beautiful as ever

This week, my friend and I were looking at our new photo series that we shot in Cape Town. The result is striking. I cannot remember ever looking so good. I am not too thin, not too fat and my hair is growing again. The most important thing is that I am radiant. This is the result of basking in the sun and eating healthy food every day, but above all else it is because I feel comfortable in my own skin.

The photos are really good

We are a good working duo; I am the model, he is the photographer. We learn from each other and in the meantime we have a lot of fun together. We feel grateful that the universe is giving us the chance to live our passion on the other side of the world. These pictures are good, really good, because they are a true reflection of the moment: joy and gratitude.

Damn, a belly fat crease

But then, after browsing a bit further through the photos, that self-critical voice becomes louder again. In addition to all the dozens of beautiful photos, there are a few that I prefer to remove immediately. I see myself sitting bent over too much on a stone staircase. My eyes immediately slide down to the belly fat crease. Damn! It’s not like I have a big belly, and even if had, so what?

Unrealistic beauty ideal

I’m afraid of my critical eye; why do I reject myself immediately when I see that one crease? It makes me think and I realize that I am contributing to the unrealistic expectations that women get when looking at photographs of models. Nothing is what it seems and a lot is being photoshopped. I’m always disturbed by fellow models who have their photos so retouched that their skin looks like a bowling ball. Why? Why don’t we show ourselves as we are? Why not show that belly crease?

Against retouching

Hence, I am against retouching. It always makes me a little sad when photographers photoshop the little bump on my upper lip. That bump belongs to me, so just let it be! And there I am wishing for someone who can retouch that belly crease. What a nice contradiction. I hear the voice of my mother in the back of my head: ‘You should be glad that you have two healthy legs to walk on.’ She is perhaps the master of putting things into perspective, but those legs are the least of my concerns right now.

I publish

There must be a way to break through unrealistic beauty ideals and that self-criticism. I decided to pay tribute to that belly crease picture by publishing it here. And you know what, it is not too bad at all. In fact, I would like to retouch the photo in such a way to make it look even worse. Why? Because I now see that it makes no sense. Just like so much else we are self-conscious about. So be happy with your two legs and your belly; what would you do without them?Photograph top @ Roos Oosterbroek, middle @ Geert Gordijn