Dove recently commissioned an online survey where South African women were asked to describe their perceptions and pressures around beauty.

Interestingly, 45% of South African women surveyed admitted that they are their own greatest source of beauty pressure, whilst only 5% felt that their friends pressurise them about beauty.

“Most of us believe that our friends are beautiful; we don’t focus on their flaws, but rather embrace everything they have to offer, including their real beauty,” says Jacqui O’Bree an independent life coach.

A question posed to viewers in a recent Dove ad campaign that women all around the world have responded to asks: “If we can see the beauty in others, why can’t we see it in ourselves?”

“We need to become our own best friends in order to accept our flaws and celebrate what makes us unique and beautiful,” says Jacqui.

Here are some of Jacqui’s top tips to boost self-esteem and change the way we think about ourselves:

•    To feel more beautiful you need to change what you focus on. You need to focus on your beauty, not your flaws.

•    The next step to becoming your own best friend is identifying your uniqueness. Often the person we consider the most ‘beautiful’ woman in the room is not necessarily the benchmark for traditional beauty. She doesn’t fit the mould so to speak, but there is something about her. Something that makes her stand out.

•    Our inner critic goes into overdrive when we ask ourselves these questions, so silence her, and ask your best friend or partner, what they notice about you. Accept what they say without judgment and remind yourself of those qualities whenever you are having ‘one of those moments’.

•    Now consider your inner beauty. What qualities and characteristics are you most proud of? Your inner beauty and strength is reflected to those around you. Get in touch with what makes you beautiful inside, and remind yourself of those qualities daily.

•    One of the most practical ways to boost self-esteem is to change the way you speak about yourself. Words have tremendous power. They help us express how we feel and what we experience. But many of us don’t realise that what we say often determines how we feel and how we act.

•    If you want to change how you feel about yourself, make a vow today to stop criticising yourself. Stop saying horrible things about yourself. You don’t call you best friend these things, so you shouldn’t call yourself them either.

•    We see the silly mistakes we have made, the things we said or shouldn't have said; the things we did or didn’t do. You can't change the past but you can do something about your future. Make a decision today to move on and forgive yourself. Let go of the memories, the pain and regrets that are holding you back from seeing how beautiful you really are.

•    The next time you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Be a kind and supportive friend to yourself instead. Think about how your best friend would treat you in that moment? What would she say?

“It’s time to start treating yourself with the same compassion, understanding, love and support that you show your best friend. It’s time to be your best friend,” she says.

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