Women look to models for fashion inspiration, beauty tips and, let's be honest, body motivation (a tendency with potentially devastating effects). But what we can really get from them is this: Feeling beautiful isn't really about how you look — it comes from silencing our own worst internal critics.
Supermodel Iman reminded us of this in an interview with New York's the Cut on the eve of her 60th birthday. In reflecting on fashion's beauty standards and diversity, the icon also admitted that, for all her success, she often feels insecure:
Your self-esteem is the hard part. I can wake up and be like, I look good, I got this. And then I get to the job and there is Cindy Crawford! That will bring you down in a second!
I suffer from low self-esteem. I had horrible self-esteem growing up. You really have to save yourself because the critic within you will eat you up. It's not the outside world, it's your interior life, that critic within you that you have to silence.
If even the most gorgeous models in the world fall into low self-esteem spirals, it should be clear to us: All the makeup and striving for a "look" isn't going to do the trick. Accepting ourselves will.
Supermodels have insecurities, too: Supermodels like Iman are often idolized for their perfect bone structure and slender bodies. But behind the makeup, great lighting and airbrushed images are people who face their own inner critics, particularly when the beauty standards in the world they inhabit are so high.
In an interview with Redbook in 2009, Cindy Crawford famously reiterated how the image people have of her is a manufactured one:
"I always say even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford! What people see on magazine covers is one moment that was perfect — the wind, the light, the hair, the makeup. That's a two-hour process. People get excited that they're meeting the Cindy Crawford from the Playboy spread 13 years ago, and I am a mother of two now. I have to check in with myself. It's good to have an awareness of that outside pressure; I can't let it get to my core. I love my life.
Christie Brinkley, a model who has been on more than 500 magazine covers, has also admitted to feeling fat when she was younger, according to Us Weekly.
Accepting yourself, again and again and again: Those insecurities aren't news to "regular" women who struggle with them all the time. But the key is that getting over them isn't a one-time thing. As a new video series featuring plus-size models called #ProjectWomanKIND highlighted, overcoming your insecurities is a process on repeat.
Jessica Vander Leahy, director of #ProjectWomanKIND, told Mic, "These women have really come to accept themselves but that self-acceptance isn't a constant state. It's a constant choice that needs to be made to love yourself in spite of what you might perceive as flaws or shortcomings."
Having to fight back self-criticism time and time again isn't easy. But it's also freeing to realize that we don't need to work toward one goal — perfect lips, smoother skin, skinnier thighs — to reach that "I feel beautiful" feeling. Hey, with a little self-love, there's no reason the rest of us can't project model-like confidence.
Just ask Iman.