If you're struggling to appreciate yourself, a visit to model Yasmin El Yassini's Instagram page should be high on your to-do list.
Yasmin's account is a pure celebration of self-love—a refreshing change from the self-doubt that many of us feel. A recent survey revealed that 42% of Americans are concerned about being 'beach body ready', and 22% of people surveyed said they would be willing to undergo cosmetic surgery in order to achieve it.
Yasmin has rejected these perceived pressures, and has also opted to grow her body hair after a lifetime of conforming to beauty standards. "Being half Moroccan and having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), I'm a little bit more hairy than others. Having a German mother, who followed the societal norms of being hairless, I recall seeing my Moroccan grandmother's hairy legs and adopting an internalized negative view towards it.
"From a young age, I would shave in secret. but now that I'm older, I've learnt to fully accept my body hair and now have a deeper understanding of what it means to me, where it comes from – and I'm proud of it," Yasmin says.
"I started to observe my body much more through my own eyes and I realized I liked my armpits more with hair, and I wanted to have pubic hair as I didn't want to feel like a little girl," Yasmin says.
"When I first grew my body hair, I felt liberated! My hair was like a filter for all toxic people who would not like what they see. I just don't care what they think.
"I think it's insane that there's still a perception that body hair is dirty or smelly and that it still hasn't been normalized in terms of its representation of the female body."
Yasmin said that turning off the voices in her head helped her to be more accepting and loving towards herself. "I turned off the internal voices from family, friends, TV shows or social media – and just listened to my own.
"Self-love is a journey – and it will take a while to fully accept yourself – but once you do, it won't go anywhere and no one can take it away.
"I no longer care what anybody else thinks of my body – if they do care, it's their problem. It's my body that I live in and love.
"It took me until my mid-twenties to fully feel comfortable in a bikini again. When I look back, I think it's such a shame and such a waste of time when I thought I couldn't join a beach day or a trip by the lake.
"Now, when I'm on the beach, I love my body and also acknowledge that I'm surrounded by such a diverse group of people – of all shapes and bodies. And that's really beautiful.”
"Romanticizing my body by taking photos or videos of myself helped me learn to love myself," Yasmin says. "Playing around with each part of my body that I want to give more attention to when posing, wearing a corset that would push out my belly more and make it look rounder, as with my cleavage helped me appreciate each area."
How to learn to appreciate yourself
1. Romanticize yourself
"Start romanticizing yourself and your body. Embrace the softness of your body and the strength in it at the same time," Yasmin says.
2. Banish comparison
"Stop comparing yourself to others, we all look different and that diversity is what makes humans beautiful."
3. Ignore clothes sizing - and go vintage
"Sizing doesn’t exist in my world. The moment I stopped buying new clothes and just buying vintage, antique or second-hand clothing, I immediately stopped looking into sizes.
4. Be naked with yourself
"Start recording yourself and be naked with yourself. Send the most love to places you felt ashamed of. Gently touch those parts and only think of how much you love them."
5. Ignore external voices
"Turning off the voices in my head that aren't mine is what made me more accepting and loving towards myself. I turned off the internal voices from family, friends, TV shows or social media – and just listened to my own."