My self-image has been evolving recently, and by recently, I mean the last few years. I’ve gone through areas of change. Good changes and bad. My self-esteem has suffered. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and following on body positivity: at any size, any shape, and any form. So many people have commented saying that it’s obesity acceptance. That’s not the case. Being comfortable with and loving your body at any size is IMPERATIVE for making healthy changes. I’ve figured this out. Finally, almost 32 years in.
Do I think I don’t need to be healthier because I’m okay with my body? No. People hear body acceptance and love and think that people want to be overweight forever or that they want to get bigger. In some cases, yes, people are fine living in a bigger body, and that’s okay. And you know what? That is none of my or anyone else’s business. Over the last few months, I’ve lost nearly 35lbs. I feel better, I move better, and yes, I feel better about my self-image.
Earlier this year, I went through a dark stage. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated it so much, and the more I tried to convince myself that I loved the skin I’m in, it made me hate it more. I said some horrible things to myself about myself. Then I read something that said something similar to that if you wouldn’t look your best friend in the eye and say something horrible about her then you shouldn’t say horrible things about yourself. What I read worded it much better, and I wish I had saved it. I can’t imagine looking any one of my friends in the eye and saying, “You disgust me” or “You’re not worthy.” So, I’m working on not saying them to myself.
I’m still on a journey to heal myself and love myself. It’s a struggle every day. Some days, I look at myself and think this isn’t so bad. Others, I just want to cry. I wondered how many women experience that same thing. I did a little social experiment in my head. I told myself to compliment at least three women per week. Nothing too outrageous or flattering, just things that I noticed and appreciated that my social anxiety would never have let me mention to strangers before.
I started small with an acquaintance at Wal-Mart. This lady has checked me out and bagged my groceries on several occasions. She’s probably younger than me, looks to be Hispanic, wears little makeup, and has beautiful shiny dark hair. While she made small talk, I smiled and mentioned that I wish my hair was as shiny as hers. She offered me a smile back and said it must be the lights. She also said she hates her hair. As I walked away, I thought to myself that it’s sad that she hates something that I find so pretty.
I doubled down on my next compliment. I told a lady that she had lovely eyes. They were almond shaped, heavy-lidded, and looked like they could tell a story. She gave a little smile, said they were hard to apply eyeliner to, and that was that. The more ladies I spoke to, the more I realized that we all hate some of our best features. I didn’t hear once that the person liked what I complimented.
We live in a society that does not accept when we appreciate ourselves. We can’t be thankful for what we are born with, what we are given, and what others appreciate. We are not taught acceptance of ourselves or others. This makes me very sad and also angry. We try to “fix” natural things like stretch marks and cellulite. People say horrible things if any of that is visible. It’s a shame that we can’t see marks that helped bring a precious being into the world as beautiful.
The more attention I paid, the more I realized that women are the most to blame for body issues. We are catty. We talk about each other in terrible ways. I even do this in my head. I never realized how much I did it. I would never say anything hurtful like the negatives that I think to another woman. I caught and checked myself on several occasions.
I realized too that people think that what is good for them is good for all. On several occasions I’ve heard, “You’d look really nice if you wore a little makeup” or similar comments. I remember thinking, well, I thought I looked nice today. Also, people try to sell me weight loss products ALL THE TIME.
Ladies, we have got to stop doing this to each other. We’ve got to build each other up and not make someone feel inferior because they have more than 10% body fat or look like they “need to eat a cheeseburger” or don’t wear makeup or wear a large amount of makeup.
One thing is that we have this idea of real women. Real women have curves, real women do this, and real women have that. All women are real women. The curvier lady with the lovely eyes, and the thin lady with a nice smile, the childless women, the abused women, the women who are the primary breadwinner, every single one. We are all real women. It’s time we realize it and appreciate each other.
If I see you in public in sweats, I’m going to think you look comfortable, and comfortable looks good on you.
If I see you without makeup, I’m going to think you look nice and natural. (You’ll see me without makeup more often than not.)
If I see you with your hair in a bun, I am going to think you took more time playing with your family, more time with your spouse, or more time for your own self-care than perfecting your hair. And that’s beautiful.
If I see you dressed to the nines, face full of expertly applied makeup, and perfectly coiffed Heaven high hair, I’m going to think you’re just as lovely.
Any way you choose to be is acceptable and should be accepted. Love yourself and love each other.