My mother always told me that the most important relationship is the one with yourself. This can be a particularly difficult task for men and women when we are bombarded with images of beautiful people in the media at every turn.
With spring and summer in full bloom, many people are looking to tone up their bodies for the beach and into a not so discrete bathing suit. We can all list a part of our body we would like to change. If we just lost the last 10 pounds, had a smaller nose, nicer stomach or thighs then we would be happier. Will changing parts of ourselves to align with the media's image of beauty really make us happier?
As I sat down with Vancouver photographer Karolina Turek, I was struck by her incredibly inviting demeanor. When it comes to body image and feeling comfortable in her skin, Karolina has learned a lot throughout her life. Her experiences in front of the camera landed her a spread in UMM Magazine and Esquire as well as appearing on the TV show LA INK. Her off camera talent led her to photograph celebs Bif Naked, Jillian Harris, Fiona Forbes and others including Will.i.am, Afrojack and Milan Lucic with the Stanley Cup. She was also the recipient of the runner up for the Georgia Strait's best wedding photographers. Karolina is not a stranger to what the camera and being under the spotlight demands.
Karolina's road to success was not without life lessons. As a teenager Karolina remembers the pressures to fit the mold that the media projected as perfection. At 18, she under went breast augmentation surgery to feel "more like a woman." When Karolina reached her mid 20s she could not relate to her big breasts anymore and felt extremely uncomfortable. What she once thought made her a "real woman" only caused her back pain and awkwardness. She recently had her implants removed and says it's the best decision she's ever made. She feels like herself again. She's learned that being a woman has hardly anything to do with big breasts and instead comes from within. Karolina has come to find that beauty is a combination of confidence, poise and compassion that translates in a photo and to your relationships in life.
Karolina credits her mother for her optimistic values that taught her what strength and confidence looks like after raising over 20 foster children. She continues to be grateful and thankful every day for each one of her successes and lessons she has learned in life. "Take people's advice and opinions with a grain of salt," she advises, and if you're really looking for guidance, go see a counsellor. It's the best thing she's ever done. One of her favorite quotes her friend once told her: "The grass may be greener on the other side but you'll have to mow that lawn too." Karolina keeps those who mean the most to her close. Her dog Piper was no exception, as she stayed cuddled on her lap when we sat down to chat for this interview.
Karolina life experiences and her successes is a story that many can relate to. We all want to be part of something special, especially the small and elite circle of the beautiful and successful. But there is a sophisticated simplicity in the girl who can wear a t-shirt and jeans and still look and feel beautiful. Inner confidence is timeless and that kind of beauty shines from the inside out. Successful relationships consist of more than what meets the eye and beauty does not always equate to happiness even though we may feel that it genuinely will in that moment. Many people struggle with self- image in hopes that they will feel fulfilled only to find that it is short lived. Self-confidence resonates with personal growth, not what you dress it in.
Amy Yew is a researcher and therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.