For so long now, poreless, crystal-clear complexion and taut, unblemished limbs have been regarded as beauty’s gold standard. To strive for better is only natural, but the constant push for perfection has most of us accepting that beauty is only skin-deep – that the default is when we’re completely flawless or unblemished.
Beauty marks are a part of what makes us human and often, they represent the significant moments in our lives. Acceptance and self-love is a journey (…one that I’m personally still on. Having acne and constantly being bombarded by press releases that promote alabaster skin is a struggle in itself!) that doesn’t happen overnight.
Thankfully, the body positive movement is stronger than ever, and #TeamCLEO supports this whole-heartedly. While we strive to make our beauty pages informative and keep you in the loop about exciting launches, nothing is more personal than appearance. Whether it’s shave or don’t shave, facing acne or you were #blessed with good skin, beauty is a choice and as long as it feels right to you, that’s what’s most important.
Let 2018 be the year we stop seeing our scars and beauty marks as flaws. Three women share the stories behind their scars and marks with #TeamCLEO. Read on and feel ready to embrace your own.
Shahera Sam, 21, Student/Songwriter
1. Tell us more a little more about you and what you do
I’m Shahera (@shaherasam), 21 years old and currently doing my Degree in Professional Communication. I would say I’m a fashion enthusiast, I love dressing up! My style is quirky, bold and colourful. Music is also my passion; I play the ukulele and started writing songs last year after going through a bad break-up. Sometimes I perform gigs for Open Mic Malaysia.
2. Almost (if not all) bodies have stretch marks, but for a long time they were seen as something negative. Did you, at one point, see your stretch marks as a flaw?
When I was 11/12, I was underweight and super skinny that I got sick very easily. The doctor said I needed to eat more. My weight went back to normal in high school. I got these stretch marks because I gained weight. I used to hate my stretch marks and I didn’t know the reason why I had it. I felt so insecure because I couldn’t really wear skirts or shorts because then it will show my marks. My mum didn’t really encourage me to wear skirts or shorts because of these marks. Throughout my high school years, I only wore things that will cover up my marks. As I grow older, I realise that I shouldn’t feel any different in my own skin as I did before my stretch marks. I see some people on social media open up about their flaws; posting pictures and share their own experience. That really helped me to build my confidence and appreciate my own body and skin. I was in the process of self-love, so I was really inspired by the stories told online. That changed my perception of stretch marks, moles, scars. After going through so many challenges, I learned to appreciate myself and realised that if we don’t love ourselves, who else will?
3. For those of us who are still insecure about our stretch marks, where and how does the journey to self love and confidence begin, based on your own personal experience?
Back in high school, I wanted to be the person behind camera. I want to be the person who takes picture of people or make films. 2016 was the year where I didn’t expect I would be in front of camera. I’ve experienced so many new exciting things; I went to a casting call for an advert. Honestly, I didn’t expect that I’ll get the part, but I did. The advert eventually went viral and I’ve received attention from people especially in the social media scene. At that time, it felt weird getting recognised by strangers. After that, I began to adjust myself in this new environment. Then, I received an email saying that I was one of the winners for Monki Style Casting. I got an opportunity from Monki to fly to Stockholm, Sweden and got featured in their New Year’s Party collection campaign. That was a dream came true because I’ve always love Monki. Monki inspires me to be myself and that brand itself reflects who I am. After the campaign was released on the November 2016, I’ve received so many positive feedback from people and I was overwhelmed by it. Ever since then, I began to feel more comfortable being myself and continue to express myself through clothes and music. People told me that they really feel inspired to be themselves after they saw the photos. That made me happy. Before this, I’ve always felt insecure and scared to be judged by others. Sometimes I feel like I have to be someone else to please people. I came to realise it is okay to be ourselves because the right people will appreciate you no matter what.
4. We love your involvement in the Jangan Malu project. What was the experience like being involved in the project, and why did you decide to be a part of it?
The reason why I wanted to be a part ‘Jangan Malu’ is because I want to experience new things. To be honest, I was feeling little bit insecure during the shoot. But when Tasha Iman and Amani wanted to shoot my stretch marks, I felt confident. They said I shouldn’t hide my stretch marks and that’s what Jangan Malu is all about; appreciating the flaws. It was a great experience because I’ve never done any shoot like this. It’s nice to see other girls embrace their marks and it totally change my perception towards our own skin.
5. Why do you think it’s important for us to own and celebrate our stretch marks?
It’s important to celebrate our stretch marks because it’s a sign that we’ve been living our life. We’ve been out there having experiences. We’ve been changing (aesthetically or otherwise) and we’ve been growing older and developing. And those are all good things. Basically, everyone has stretch marks. It is a natural, normal thing to have and we should celebrate it.
6. Thanks to social media, we see lots of women who are embracing their stretch marks, some of them turning the marks into art. What are your thoughts on this movement? Do you think if you saw these images when you were younger, you’d have a different perception on beauty?
I think it’s an inspiring movement for us women. From these articles, I see lots of women went through similar situations and journey before they embrace their stretch marks. Social media has made a great impact for us women to start open up about our stories. I got really inspired to share mine because of what I see online, the stories and the struggles that they went through. I think without social media, I would still hide and not embrace my stretch marks. Yes, I would definitely have different perception on beauty, if I saw these images of people with their marks or moles when I was younger. Growing up, I’ve been brainwashed by the media that the definition of beauty is to have a flawless and fair skin. I’m really glad that now social media has been a good platform for people to share their stories. I see many fashion brands too have been involved in this campaign where they hire models with different sizes and skin colours. As I grow older, it totally changes my perception on beauty and I’m glad that media has embrace women’s true beauty.