Laurel: Learning How to Handle Myself Kindly.

Laurel is a mother, an influencer, and an advocate for self-love.

“Around Christmas time last year, I started breaking out very bad. I was at a really low point. I just needed somewhere to go where I could share my experience, and that’s how I found the skin positivity community. By posting my skin, I got inspired to look at myself in a different way.”

Laurel explains how impactful, life experiences have brought her to this point.

“When I was 11, my skin started getting super oily, and it started breaking out. Everybody told me that I’d grow out of it. I was hoping that would happen, but it never did. In my personal life, I was going through a lot already so breaking out and having acne was like the cherry on top of all of the bad stuff. It made me curl up into a little shell. I would hide my face, I wouldn’t want to socialize with people, and I was also severely bullied for my appearance. Not only did I have acne, but I had glasses, and I had curly, frizzy hair. So, I was the target of bullying at my school, and I’d come home and get bullied again on the internet. “

“I didn't always deal with this in a healthy or productive way. I struggled a lot with disordered eating. I felt like I needed to look like the thin girls on TV. Another aspect of the disordered eating was feeling like I needed to control something in my life. My skin was breaking out, and there were so many things in my life that I didn’t have control over at the time. So, I tried to control at least one thing by restrictive eating. I also used to do it as punishment. Because my body was failing me, I wondered why I should even treat it in a good way.”

“When I got pregnant though, I began to see my body in a different way. My body was changing a lot, and that was the first time in my life where I allowed myself and my body to change. I needed it to sustain life and to make sure that I was healthy. So, I began to appreciate my body regardless of breaking out or gaining weight. I just let my body do its thing.”

“Being a mother brought me to a more positive place because there’s so much joy that it comes along with it. Ultimately, I gained so much appreciation for my own body. I had to feed my son, so I began to appreciate it in a new way. Of course, during that time, I was having hormonal breakouts and everything, but I was able to look at myself in a brighter light. Before my life was darker, but after I had my son, I felt like my body and my life had purpose. My son saved my life for sure. But whether you're pregnant or not, your body is your lifeline so you should appreciate and treat it with kindness. “

“If you have an issue with disordered eating or not taking care of yourself, I think it’s worth reaching out for help, especially if you’re already considering it. Confiding in someone you're close to or even having a conversation with a therapist or doctor can be a great help. When we’re struggling, having conversations and asking for help are two of the most powerful things we can do. Going through struggles is already isolating enough. With that said, it’s better to navigate to the other side with someone. We always need a helping hand. So, if you can find one, reach for it.”

“Growing up, I was really anxious and depressed, and I didn’t like to ask for help when it came to my unhealthy relationship with my skin. That’s not to say that I don’t struggle with those things now, but now I have the tools to work through those issues and to see myself in a better light. I’m more grounded now, and I’m more able to relate to other people’s struggles. I have a passion for helping others because of the struggles that I went through. I have hope for my future now, and at one point, I didn’t think that I’d be able to say that.”

“There just came a time in my life where I knew that I had to look at my body differently. I started out with focusing on one thing that I liked about myself. Saying that you love something about yourself can be hard at first, and oftentimes, you have to try and focus on the small things. I just knew that I needed to start my self-love journey, and I’ve made baby steps. It’s taken time, but I’m way better now. I used to look for acceptance and validation from other people, but I’ve learned that I need these things from myself.”

“It’s important to know that your body does not define who you are. I know that’s said a lot, but that’s very important. Beauty comes in all different shapes, sizes, forms, and genders. So, it’s important to accept our own individuality. Who we are is who we are, and we don’t need to be a cookie-cutter image of someone else. If you’re struggling to believe this, and you’re not ready to ask for help, just try and be kinder to yourself. Even just changing one habit can start a domino effect. Everybody deals with things differently, and that’s why I want to continue making a space where people can feel accepted.”