Let's face it: most girls wage a daily war against the mirror. Studies have shown that a whopping 72 percent of girls feel a tremendous pressure to be beautiful, yet only two percent of women actually consider themselves beautiful. And what's more troubling, over 70 percent of girls aged 15 to 17 actually avoid everyday activities such as attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion because they feel bad about their looks. Grammy Award-nominated singer Natasha Bedingfield, self-esteem expert Jess Weiner, and Olympic gold medalist and US women's World Cup soccer captain Julie Foudry came together yesterday afternoon at the MTV TRL Studios to do something about it. To kick off Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, these inspiring women spoke to HuffPost High School about turning beauty from a source of anxiety into a source of confidence for girls -- once and for all. Here are their 5 steps to finding self-love:
1. Turn beauty from a source of anxiety into a source of confidence.
Natasha: We need to reframe the way we look at beauty. Society tells us that we need to have [certain things] to be beautiful -- this outfit or these clothes. We need to look like everyone else. But I think we need to start celebrating our differences. If you have pale skin, don't be ashamed that you don't have a tan. Or if you've got dark skin, same thing. You should be able to celebrate that and find beauty in what you've got. I've got a big booty but I have a skinny waist, so I try to emphasize the waist. I celebrate my curves and I say nice things to myself -- even if I don't believe it -- until I start to believe it.
2. Get rid of toxic friends.
Jess: [Eliminating toxic friends] is such a self-esteem booster. The only diet I'll advocate for is the friend diet. Detox from the toxic friends.
Girls being mean and catty to each other -- it might make for good reality TV, but it makes for really bad friendships. I always tell girls to know whether your friends are supporters or saboteurs. You know you''ve got a friend you can go to... when you're going for your dreams, you know that girl's got your back. When you go to your friend and she starts to talk trash about you or talks about you behind your back or she's phony to you, I always say to girls that for me, it's two strikes and you’re out. One, I get it -- people make mistakes. But two shows me a pattern. So if you can't trust her, she's a saboteur and she's going to stand in your way. And it's not because of anything that you did. It's her own insecurity. As hard as it is, distance her and find the people that really care about you even if it's not as many people. You need to be conscious of not having an army of friends, but having the right team of friends.
3. Express yourself through fashion and beauty.
Jess: Here's my new catchphrase: 'with liberty and fashion for all.' To me, that's all about self-care. That's about wanting to take care of your body and taking care of your mental health and your emotional health. That's your expression of your own self-love -- so enjoy it! Try on different styles and personalities!
4. Ignore anyone who says you can’t.
Julie: When we started the US women's soccer team, there were people all the time shouting at us, saying, 'Women shouldn't have a world cup,' and 'Women shouldn't be in the Olympics for soccer.' We didn't have either of those things at the time. So the whole time we were saying we want this and we want that -- and we started setting goals. All the while, people were throwing these obstacles in front of us. We had a lot of people telling us we couldn't, telling us were were crazy, and telling us we wouldn’t be in the Olympics. And guess who won the first Olympics? Guess who won the first world cup?
Natasha: We have to work on getting positive messages into our lives somehow. It's so hard, though, because the negative stuff stands out so much. One time when I was performing I remember looking out into the crowd and everyone was clapping except one person in the front who was crossing their arms and looked like they were in a complete mood. I spend the whole show trying to make them uncross their arms. I didn't think about all the other people who were clapping, I could only think about that one person. I felt like I did a bad show because that one person didn't enjoy it. I had to reframe the way I looked at it, and realize that I had a whole room of people clapping for me.
5. Figure out what makes you feel healthy.
Jess: We have to teach girls that health is a continuum, not a destination. Health is a matter of traveling -- it's constant and it's changing. The thing about health to me is that it’s a 360 degree process -- it's mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional.
Natasha: As women, we need to make choices that are for our health, and trust that health makes us happy and beautiful. Everybody loves me more when I eat chocolate!
Watch this video of Natasha Bedingfield performing her inspiring single, "Weightless":
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