My book and its connection to one’s self-worthSeptember 4, 2022
I am often asked why I chose to write a children’s book. What importance does it impart to our current society, and why is it worth reading?
The book, What’s Wrong with my Skin? is based on one chapter of the memoir I started writing during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like most people stuck at home, I had time to reflect and deal with the issues I conquered (and some still in progress). As time passed, I temporarily abandoned the memoir with four chapters and started taking my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. I concentrated on my courses and thought I would always have time to check that bucket list of writing a book one day.
Part of my future profession also requires me to always sharpen my self-awareness by constantly checking my biases and worldview and maintaining self-care so that I can be of service to others. I also know that to be of service, I should advocate for the welfare of those whose stories must be amplified. So, I went back to writing a simpler version of my book where my message can come across all ages.
Some of the best things I learned from my first year as a counselling psychology student are the topics of self-esteem and belonging. I learned how it relates to our daily struggle to see our worth despite all our efforts to fit in and be seen.
Self-worth and self-efficacy (competence) are the two aspects of self-esteem (Young, 2021). To be perfectly clear, self-worth is “having the right to exist” (p. 234). The right to be loved and to belong which “requires no prerequisites,” according to Brene Brown (2010). You can have all the competence in the world with your talent, yet you can have so little self-worth. You probably know someone who fits this description. There are several studies regarding self-esteem and self-worth, but what I can tell you based on what I learned is that self-worth correlates to belonging (Gutiérrez et al., 2022; Prieler et al., 2021).
There are many factors, such as environmental, cultural, biological, social, spiritual/religious, and psychological, regarding how one’s self-esteem and self-worth are formed. However, in a cognitive behavioural lens, it is believed that one’s way of thinking is based on how one easily accesses their automatic thoughts based on the underlying assumptions formed from their core belief (Kennerley et al., 2017). For example, suppose from the formative years of your life (core belief), you believed you were not worthy of love and belonging. In that case, the assumptions you will live by could be “If I don’t fit in, people will reject me, or “If I blend in, they will love me,” and so your automatic thought is “They think I’m ugly because I don’t look like them” or “How can they love me if I look like this?”
It is also important to acknowledge that fitting in and belonging are two different things. I have been a fan of Brown’s work. She has constantly preached that fitting in is all about being like everyone else so they will accept you, while true belonging is being accepted for who you are. Sometimes, we do everything we can to fit in, yet we do not belong, so we tend to look inward, asking ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?” instead of taking a different perspective.
Concerning my book, it is essential to impart this message of learning to love yourself and embracing your cultural identity wherever you may be in any part of the world, especially for people of colour and visible minorities. When all your life, you get bombarded by messages from the media and society that you must look a certain way to be seen and loved, especially at such a young age– that will inevitably influence you! Even adults still struggle to appreciate their beauty and worth because of all the trauma they experienced in their childhood. The good thing about our cognition is that we can continually update it with a better perspective. Hopefully, my book can be the vehicle to help us embrace a better mindset about how others define beauty will not affect your self-worth because you are worthy and unique.
What’s Wrong with my Skin? is categorized as a children’s book. But I have learned many lessons and even cried on many children’s animated shows, books, and manga because of their profound messages. Likewise, my book reflects reality and mentality that, if left unchecked, could further harm the young one’s self-worth. I also finished this children’s book because I want to do something good that my child will be proud of someday.
At the end of the day, I am forever grateful that I had the chance to share my knowledge and experiences through my book. I hope that whoever comes across my book can feel a little bit less alone in their suffering and that we are not defined by what society dictates. For the parents, I hope we can break the generations of hurt just because we were raised with certain beauty standards. May we continue to guide our children, especially with the rise of unrealistic beauty expectations on social media. We may not all have the same skin complexion, and that’s okay! Nothing is wrong with your skin.
(Disclaimer: This is not in any way a substitute for therapy, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it.)
Brown, B. (2010). Gifts of Imperfection. Hazelden Publishing, Center City, Minnesota, 2010
Gutiérrez, N.; Mercader, I.; Carrión, J.J.; Trigueros, R. (2018). Self-concept and feeling of belonging as a predictor variable of the attitude towards the Study from the PISA 2018 Report. Educ. Sci. 2022, 12, 91. https://doi.org/10.3390/ educsci12020091
Kennerley H., Kirk, J., & Westbrook, D. (2017). An Introduction to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Skills and applications (3rd ed.). Sage Publications.
Prieler, M., Choi, J., & Lee, H. E. (2021). The Relationships among self-worth contingency on others’ approval, appearance comparisons on facebook, and adolescent girls’ body esteem: A cross-cultural study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(3), 901. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18030901
Young, M. (2021). Learning the art of helping: Building blocks and techniques (7th ed.).Pearson.