Tanesha Awasthi for the Dove Self-Esteem ProjectTanesha Awasthi for the Dove Self-Esteem ProjectTanesha Awasthi for the Dove Self-Esteem ProjectTanesha Awasthi for the Dove Self-Esteem ProjectTanesha Awasthi for the Dove Self-Esteem ProjectTanesha Awasthi for the Dove Self-Esteem Project

I’ve struggled with self-esteem my entire life. And like every woman I know, there are things about my appearance I would love to change. However, there came a time in my life- 7 years ago to be exact, when I realized the road to loving myself- though long, would be much more rewarding than the bumpy, mentally exhausting road I’d been on, loathing myself.

Fashion is something I’ve always been passionate about, but it wasn’t always an easy hobby to have as the tallest girl in school, with the largest feet and the only one who skipped a training bra and went straight to the real, uncomfortable thing.  Not fitting into the clothes my friends were able to wear, having multi-racial hair I rarely saw on TV or in magazines, were just a few beauty-anxieties I struggled with throughout my adolescent and teen years, and some I still find myself dealing with even today.

After years battling eating disorders and excessive exercise, as a result of poor self-esteem and a major lack of confidence in my teens and twenties, I suffered severe knee injuries. It wasn’t until I was a few pounds shy of my goal weight, had no cartilage left in my knees and could barely walk, that I was faced with a harsh reality: I almost liked what I saw on the outside, but I wasn’t happy inside. At that very moment, I had a personal awakening. I looked in the mirror and asked myself why I spent so much time hating my imperfect eyebrows, acne-prone skin, freckled complexion, frizzy hair, wide hips, lack of a thigh gap thunder thighs, cellulite, stretch marks, thick knees, big feet? I asked myself, was wasting time focusing on the outside, worth being trapped in a mental prison of unhappiness on the inside?

From that moment on, I made an effort to focus on accepting things about myself I once considered flaws. Although I didn’t see anyone in the media I could relate to completely, I made small connections with women I admired- like Jennifer Lopez’s ample bottom, Maria Carey’s curly hair, Marilyn Monroe’s thick thighs and hips. Making connections between physical characteristics I admired in others, with those I possessed myself, allowed me to start viewing my flaws as beautiful.

When I started this blog 4 years ago, I didn’t set out to make a difference in the way other women saw themselves. I simply needed a creative outlet, and to be honest I was scared to death of what people would think of me. I was so afraid of the judgement I thought I’d receive, when in fact it was my own inner voice, going over all the things I didn’t like about myself.

Early on, I received messages from women of all ages (and even single fathers with teenage daughters!), saying how inspired they were seeing someone they could relate to on some level- whether it be body type, height, size, race, hair type, eye color, you name it!

What I realize every single day in connecting with women from all over the world, is that we all strive to make connections with other people, but we miss the most important one: connecting with ourselves. If we can recognize beauty in others, why is it so hard to see beauty in ourselves? As my readers gain confidence in themselves by relating some part of their physical appearance with mine, I gain confidence in knowing that the work I do to encourage confidence through fashion is helping others, and hopefully preventing someone from suffering the effects of poor self-esteem and lack of confidence I experienced.

Throughout the years, I’ve been fortunate to partner and collaborate with many brands who share my mission to show women that beauty comes in many forms, and Dove is one that constantly reminds us how important it is for women to feel good about themselves from the inside out, through their many thought-provoking campaigns and powerful messaging.

The Dove self-esteem project has reached 17 million girls to date, but there is more work to be done! To help spread the message, I’m starting my own self-esteem project and encouraging you to do the same, along with your friends, sisters, mothers and daughters.

There are lots of amazing resources on the campaign website related to self-esteem education and confidence, as well as an inspirational pinterest board dedicated to the project.

The resource that’s helped me form my personal self-esteem project is focused on uncovering inner beauty. I’m committed to valuing myself and others for who they are, not what they look like, and I challenge you to do the same! I’m so much more than my wide hips, frizzy hair, big feet and thick knees. I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mentor, a role model.

Below is the official campaign video, shedding a brilliant light on the poor self-esteem epidemic we can work together to change!