Fat, skinny, thick, muscular, curvy; you might have automatically put yourself in one of the body type categories.
It feels so ingrained in me that young women must struggle with their image because we’ve been doing it for so long, but that does not have to be truth. I hope that future generations of women can grow up focusing on their health and intellect, not on their body size.
Personally, I have been labeled all of the above and still hated myself. I still didn’t believe I was ’beautiful’ because I didn’t have my ideal body. I would starve myself for days and then over exercise. Where I would start to see my ribs and I would be excited. Whatever I ate I would make myself hurl and this made me sicker than I was and very extremely weak.
Then I started going to the other extreme; binge eating and not working out at all. Where I would hold my stomach rolls and cry and hit my body till it turned blue that’s how I would punish myself. I fought with my body and kept loathing it. Always unsatisfied, never happy. I was just disgusted with myself. So I would cover up my body trying to hide the shame I felt inside of me.
Self-hatred and shame are related but not synonymous. Shame can be healthy, the mind’s tool for helping people understand when they have done something that must not be repeated. However, the majority of shame that people experience is not a healthy tool for learning right from wrong. Instead, it is a manifestation of self-hatred, a message that when they do things wrong (or, at least, differently than they wish they had) then they are wrong, a judgment of the person and not the act.
Many people who feel shame cannot assign it to any particular action. Shame is a feeling of essential badness that I simply could not shed. As I was experiencing unhealthy shame, I felt that if others saw their real me, then nobody could possibly love them.
I wanted to turn my self-hatred into self-compassion. I needed to understand how my own self-hatred formed. This helped me develop compassion for myself. No matter what I did or did not do as a child, no matter what trauma I endured, the hurt part of me deserved love, compassion, and nurturing. No matter what, I possessed a fundamental goodness that is not touched by external events, in the same way the clouds can cover the sun but never really touch it. This was when my self-loving and body positivism journey began.
Overcoming my body image has been a bit of a journey, but it’s not something that I regularly struggle with daily as it was in the past. It takes a lot of work and a lot of supporting yourself. Your self-image isn’t something that someone else can alter for you, it’s something that you have to see for yourself.
I am proud of where my body is today. It can do things once I thought was impossible. It can run, it can dance, it can bend, it can stretch, it can kick someone in the face. It’s both flexible and strong. I’ve built it like. It has survived and it is fierce and healthy, that’s the important part. It’s my home and I’m taking care of it with acceptance and love.
Beautiful people are those in life that are healthy, happy, confident, and kind. These things don’t have much to do with symmetry or size.
In actuality, living a body-positive life means embracing principles of acceptance regardless of size. That goes for your own body, and everyone else’s too. We are not meant to be clones and it is in fact in our variations that we find true beauty.
Think of everything you’ve already been through in this life. The ups and downs. The movement and the stillness. Injury and recovery. The places you’ve been and seen. Your body has held you through it all to this point. Be soft with her. She deserves your care. And right now, she deserves nothing but your appreciation.
Self-esteem and physical appearance are such vulnerable areas. There is something about how we catch our reflection in the mirror: “It doesn’t look like me,” we say, “Something is off.” If only we could see ourselves how other people see us.
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself now and then, and you definitely shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. You also shouldn’t beat yourself up for working towards bettering yourself and your body, no matter what anyone says.
Body positivity works both ways — you should love yourself no matter what size you are, and no matter how many stretch marks you have. That doesn’t mean you have to accept where you are and remain stagnant. Change means growth, and I believe we should always be growing as humans. As long as you are healthy and treating your body how it should be, you should feel amazing.
The perfect body happens from the inside out not the outside in. How you are is who you get to be in this life. The body you are blessed with cannot be switched someone else’s. So stop wishing and wanting someone else’s body, it is pointless. Who you are nobody else gets to be you and that is your superpower. You have to LOVE who you are and love what you got. The relationship you have with yourself is the longest relationship you will have. It’s not selfish to take care of you or love yourself, that’s your responsibility.
Chant this every morning as you get up. Chant it till you believe in it.
I am strong
I am happy
I am healthy
I am worthy.
The more you say it the more you create that energy. You are who you say you are. So stop saying you’re fat, you’re slow, you’re not good enough. Not only will your life change your body will change.
How to create the perfect body? Understand you already have it, you now need to own it and love it, uncondionally.
Photography credits Carl Spies
(His Instagram @CarlSpies7 )
Practice daily. Stay Humble. Stay safe.