How I learned to love my body
‘I say things about my body that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy’
The truth is, I cry a lot over my body and what I look like.
In fact, I’ve probably struggled with it my whole life. I am fully aware that I’m not alone, that in fact we all cannot help torturing ourselves by living in constant comparison to others. While there is a lot less body shaming nowadays, and curves are now greatly appreciated, there still isn’t any representation of what normality looks like. We aren’t all Kardashians, but we aren’t Victoria Secret models either.
Saying it in the best way possible, I am 100 per cent completely average. I’m not overweight as such, but of course I have flab, rolls, and a belly. I’m normal. There is an in between and it is a lot of us. Undoubtedly, that lack of portrayal in media can often make you feel not good enough. Recently, after a night spent in tears in front of the mirror, criticising myself and counting up the calories I had consumed. I thought fuck this. What’s so wrong with my body? The little bit of fat I can grab on my stomach?
OK, so I’m not a fashion editorial model, and I never will be. I’m not-so tall, somewhat curvaceous up top and pretty slim. However, I should be thankful for the body I’m in. It works perfectly, and maybe I should stop wishing for what I don’t have and start looking at what I do have and say “Yeah, I can be sexy, I can be beautiful.” Because truth is, we all are beautiful.
Yet, we all struggle. I asked other girls how they embraced body positivity and learned to embrace the body they’re in.
Erica Spaeth, Pittsburgh
I’ve struggled with weight since middle school because of my small frame and rather large appetite, and for a while I felt really overweight and fat because I had rolls when I sat down like everyone else. Eventually I became really into fitness and gained muscle which, of course, made me gain weight. I learned that as long as I felt good and ate well, my opinion of me was all that mattered. Now, I eat healthy and work out and have learned to love myself and appreciate the hard work I do!
Gigi Gupte, Maryland
I used to be so skinny I was bullied for it. Now I have gained a lot of weight and some curves because I workout and eat a lot but sometimes I still feel like I’m not curvy enough and hearing all the rap songs about curvy girls with huge butts and constantly seeing girls with unreal curves on instagram makes me feel insecure. The media just makes such a big deal out of having a booty and tits and it brainwashes men to think girls should have like a tiny waist and big boobs and a butt which is almost genetically impossible makes it worse. I also learned bodies aren’t just objects meant to be sexually appealing to men. Lifting weights shows me how strong my body is and how it’s more than an object. It’s what keeps me alive and I should love it and take care of it.
Georgia Luckhurst, Kent
I say things about my body that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. I say things to my body, looking at myself in the mirror, that are more vicious than any judgement I’ve cast on any other human being I’ve ever known. I really, really intensely don’t like the way I look. It’s a work in progress. Lately, I’ve been attempting to look out for myself – it’s little things, like following more plus-size models, people who look like me, on Instagram or Twitter. Scrolling through Ashley Graham and Barbie Ferreira’s social media pages to remind myself my soft curves are valid. And, of course, taking selfies – because if I feel good about myself at any particular moment, then I may as well capture it for a day when I don’t feel quite as confident.
Lauren Thompson, Oxford
Recovering from my eating disorder, I’ve had to come to terms with gaining weight and accepting a normal, healthy BMI. So far, putting on the weight has been hard because it feels like I’ve had to say goodbye to, what to conventional beauty standards, would be the perfect figure. I’m learning to love my new curves, but somehow it still feels unnatural, and while it’s not just because of the media that this hard, being bombarded with samey, air-brushed perfection across my Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr feeds doesn’t help.
Alexa Russell, Alabama
I had a bad relationship with my body in my teen years, specifically the beginning of high school. I was so self-conscious and unhappy that I started skipping meals. I would purposely not bring a lunch to school so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat and I would only eat dinner everyday. I could see my hip bones protruding very prominently and feeling hungry made me feel powerful. What I didn’t realize, was that I was angry and upset all the time. My depression was worsening and I was falling into old habits of self-harm. When I got to college I realized that it was my chance to start new and to find friends who liked me for who I was and not what I looked like. Now, I can actually eat in front of my friends without feeling weird or judged. Sure, I probably do need to lose some weight, but it is no longer a necessity to make me happy. I love my curves and have finally learned how to love my body.
So many girls sent me their feelings and struggles with body image. Each paragraph as inspirational as the next. It took me reading only a few to realise that despite how beautiful everyone was, we all shared the same thing in common. We’d all been to hell and back in terms of our own body image. Yet, we all needed to come to the same conclusion:
We’re beautiful the way we are.