Four powerful women and one amazing little girl share why self-love is so important no matter how visible our differences. Next, Mama Càx tells us how she's learned to appreciate her body as it is.
Name: Mama Càx
Location: New York City
Occupation: Blogger, model, graduate student and body positive advocate
On celebrating beauty…
As cliché as it may sound, beauty is a combination of the external and the internal. There's nothing more beautiful than kindness and confidence. I also think comfort has a lot to do with beauty. I feel the most beautiful when I'm comfortable.
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On shaking off the critics…
After my amputation I was still chasing this unattainable image of beauty. I think my perception changed when I saw that other people wanted to alter something about themselves: butt size, weight and so on. This makes you realize something can't be wrong with everyone—the problem is the beauty standard.
I surround myself with people who not only love themselves but also encourage me to do the same. I used to be worried about how people perceived me. But not anymore. I exude confidence, and that's what they see.
On self-acceptance and embracing our differences…
What you have may not be celebrated in magazines, but you should still love it. I know it's easy to say, "Just love what you have," but essentially that's what it comes down to.
I've been able to find self-love in my hobbies, travels and exercise. Walking fast to catch a train just two minutes before departure, rock climbing, holding on to that last breath to complete a lap—these things make me appreciate my body's endurance and my accomplishments. That appreciation is enough to love my body no matter what society deems as flaws.
See more "Eye of the Beholder" stories in the January 2017 issue of ESSENCE!