“I wish I had known that in order to be beautiful you don’t have to conform to society's expectations.”

 
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Madii Oakley

Writer, explorer, questioner of all things.

“I think it began when I started realising myself as a woman—that I was attracted to other people and in return I wanted to BE attractive. I started taking notice of how I looked. Comparing myself to the people I saw on TV, in magazines and those around me. I realised that I didn’t necessarily fit into that regular beauty standard. Nobody ever explicitly told me I wasn’t good enough. I guess I came to that conclusion on my own: when the ads on TV are marketing products to clear your skin; the magazines are telling you new ways to lose weight. So, thinner must be better and smooth, poreless skin must be my ticket to happiness? If that's what these products are trying to achieve, then attaining that must be what’s deemed beautiful! I think what also made me conscious was growing up with an older sibling suffering with an eating disorder. To the outside world, my sister fitted the mould, but they didn’t realise the lengths it took to get there. How unhealthy she truly was. But I had a backstage pass, and if THAT’S what it took, I wasn't willing. Because even though she seemed to meet the beauty standards, she was still a lot unhappier than I was. It sounds simple now, but this was 7 years of realisations. And for the last 4 years I have been working on, and will continue to work on, being not only kinder, but more appreciative of what I possess: internally and externally. Travel has been a massive part of that lesson. Finding an identity outside of what you look like, and really loving, respecting and being proud of your accomplishments is one of the biggest tools to love what you see. Because you’re no longer only looking at the physical, but everything this body has helped you achieve.

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My latest love is adoring/embracing photos that aren’t the stereotypical ‘good’ photo. Not every photo is going to be a good one, and it doesn’t have to be, because you are so much more than a photo. So much more than what you look like. And THAT is beautiful.”