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Dear women: It's OK to admit that you're pretty

Jenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer, lipstick enthusiast, aspiring yogi and diehard Wolverine based near Ann Arbor, MI. For more information, visit jennabirch.com or follow her on twitter @jennabirch.

Accepting praise is the part of healthy self-image women can't seem to master

Ever since I saw Australian actress Margot Robbie walk the Golden Globes red carpet in her gorgeous creme, floor-length Gucci dress, I had an instant girl crush. But Robbie recently downplayed her beauty in Vanity Fair's July issue.

She tells the mag: "In my big group of girlfriends at home, I am definitely not the best looking. I did not grow up feeling like I was particularly attractive. You should have seen me at 14, with ­braces and glasses, gangly and doing ballet! If I looked good in [The] Wolf of Wall Street I cannot take full credit; it was because of hair extensions and makeup."

From a young age, girls are taught that pride is unattractive. So, in response, it's all too common for us to dismiss compliments or praise, saying we simply are not that pretty/smart/kind/strong/fill-in-the-blank because we're afraid of seeming too proud of ourselves. The problem with that, though, is that you begin to believe your own words. You begin to believe you are less.

This sentiment saddens me. Every woman is allowed to feel pretty — whether you achieve that through makeup and hair extensions, or feel best completely natural. As long as you do it for you and like how you look, that's all that matters. And if someone says she loves your blond waves or that you have gorgeous eyes you're allowed to accept that compliment, revel in it for a moment, and turn it into a little self-love. (Yes, I give you permission.)

Margot's comments speak to a larger problem, outside of simple physical appearance.

Us ladies have a problem accepting praise in general. And by constantly batting away anything that feels like a compliment, we sow the seeds of self-doubt that take their toll, not only on our own self-esteems, but on other women's, too. Think about it like this: If the prettiest/smartest/kindest/strongest woman you know doesn't believe in her most amazing qualities, then it becomes hard to believe in your own.

One of the best lessons my mother ever taught me was to accept both criticism and praise gracefully. Try it. Next time you're tempted to respond to a compliment by saying you're not all that, replace it with a simple "thank you" instead. You acknowledge the person's praise as meaning something to you, and remind yourself that you are allowed to feel special, worthy and important. In fact, you are those things.

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