I love seeing ad campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty and Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel, and I applaud them for using women of different shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities to market their brands. I also find singer Megan Trainor and her smash hit “All About That Bass” uplifting and refreshing. But these messages are incomplete.

Changing our perceptions about body image isn’t about bigger is better, it’s about encouraging acceptance of all body types. Skinny-shaming isn’t any less offensive than fat-shaming.

This idea of real women have curves misses the mark. We are all real, and there are so many different ways to be a real woman. Women proclaiming they love their fat rolls and cellulite doesn’t feel authentic to me. Even if you do love the fat on your body, you’re still only focusing on the physical.

Models and advertisers telling us “You’re beautiful just the way you are” only reinforces the idea that our appearance is all that matters.

American Eagle’s new #AerieREAL campaign featuring non-photoshopped images of their models has helped their bottom line. A company spokes person says their sales are up nearly ten percent. The real you is sexy they say. There is no reason to retouch beauty.

I agree, but the message is still beauty is all about what you look like, and therein lies the problem. We are taught as women that beauty determines our value. Beauty is power, and it may be, but what happens when your beauty begins to fade? What if you don’t happen to look anything like a model—un-retouched or not? Are you unworthy because you don’t measure up physically?

For me, it isn’t about trying to change society’s standards of beauty, it’s about choosing to change the way you see yourself, and redefine what it means to be beautiful.

It is up to each of us to lessen the importance we place on physical beauty.

Instead of wishing everyone would celebrate your size or other physical attributes, how about acknowledging and embracing the notion that looking beautiful isn’t the most important thing a woman can achieve.

Movies, magazines, ad campaigns and celebrities should not dictate or determine what it means to be beautiful. You decide what is beautiful, otherwise you are giving your power away.

You know what is beautiful, sexy bombshell, girl-next-door gorgeous to me?

Empowerment.

Kindness.

Authenticity.

Courage.

The courage to be who you truly are. That is ultimately what we all yearn for—someone to see us for who we really are. While I believe in keeping up with your looks, our appearance should not define us. We have to begin to look at ourselves differently—with more compassion, grace and acceptance, knowing we are so much more than what we look like.

My friends say they love me because I am compassionate, funny, genuine, honest and fun to be around. I’ve never once had a friend tell me they love me and want to hang out because of how I look. Even men I’ve dated said what makes me beautiful is my personality and my heart. Now that is sexy!

I think our time can be better spent cultivating these characteristics, rather than working on “problem areas” to attract a man, win approval from others or try to conform to society’s very narrow view of beauty.

This has been one of my biggest challenges—trying to love myself in a world that’s constantly telling me not to.

My biggest beauty secret? Value yourself for something other than your appearance.

You don’t need “real models” with your same skin tone or body type to reassure you of your self worth. Placing all our energy on physical beauty sets us up for failure. Try focusing on what else you can offer the world instead. We could certainly all use more kindness, a sense of humor, intelligence and compassion in our lives.

What makes you feel beautiful?

Read my story published on mindbodygreen.com