I have had this uncomfortable struggle with loving and appreciating my body since I was going through puberty. It’s only been very recent that I’ve learned to love this body. By very recent, I would say probably in the past few months.
I say this knowing that I bought a TON of junk food this weekend and left my apartment 0 times, but it’s about knowing what I am worth. I am worth my love, even if I eat too much one weekend. I am worth my own love, even if I slip up one day… or one week.
The point is, I’m learning now that the only way to change yourself is to start by loving yourself. I’m undoing 22 years of negative self-talk. Success is not linear, but by loving myself, I can only move forward from here.
All of the photos I’ve added to this are photos in which I felt my most insecure. They range from age 13 to age 20. I look at these photos now and see how beautiful I was. How amazing my body looked. Look at those legs! Look at my shoulders! I was so toned and hella gorgeous. I was popular and pretty. But back then? All I saw was how fat my thighs looked when I sat down. How my stomach was fat and bloated. I believed that I couldn’t be good enough for others because I wasn’t good enough for myself. I put a fake smile on and sucked in my stomach and pretended like I was happy with who I was.
I was 13 when this photo was taken. We just chose some of our favorite dresses for this “photo shoot,” and this was my favorite one. It was a cute dress I found at a thrift store for like a dollar — and this would totally have been something I’d wear now. My grandma told me I looked like a pin-up girl in that dress. But in reality, it wasn’t about the dress.
My body wasn’t celebrated at that age. It wasn’t a good thing to have the body of an 18-year-old when I was 13. I grew up believing that my body was abnormal for a girl my age, and because it wasn’t normal, it was ugly. It was disgusting. I was fat and worthless. I was nothing.
I have always been curvy, but I remember hating my body. Curvy wasn’t really accepted back then. I know that wasn’t a long time ago, but we didn’t have Ashley Grahams and Iskra Lawrences back then. We had Abercrombie models and the urge to fit into Hollister, which I couldn’t even fit into a large. I would look in the mirror in middle school and be so self-conscious. I would take pictures and contort my body to look “skinny.” Thank GOD Instagram wasn’t a thing back then, because I would be even deeper in that self-hating hole than I was.
Pool parties meant wearing bikinis, which meant covering my stomach with my arms or towel any time I wasn’t in the water. Going to the lake or the beach meant sucking in my stomach to make it look like I was a size 0 — but really, who was I kidding? People knew what I looked like anyway.
I would try not to eat for a whole day. I would try to suck in my stomach as I slept so that I could wake up with abs. I would cut out sugar or try to be vegetarian. But all of the things I tried just made me binge-eat carbs and sugar and fattening food because I missed out on it for however long.
You want to know the real reason why it never worked? I was doing all of it because I hated my body. Not because I loved my body. I wanted to change who I was because I wasn’t fitting into societal standards. I wanted to change who I was because of what other people said about my body.
I’m now learning to forgive the people who have made me feel fat. I’m learning to forgive myself for hating this amazing body. I’m learning to let go of the mindset I set for myself, and I am learning to embrace my body.
If I could go back and talk to this little girl, I would be the best cheerleader for her. I would scream “YAAAAAS GIRL, LOOK AT THOSE LEGS! THAT SMILE! THOSE ARMS! YES HUNNY!” every time she walked by.
I would make her put that dress on and strut around. I would let her cry to me when people thought she was fat. I would tell her that all that really matters is how she feels about herself because confidence is the greatest superpower. I would tell her to actually believe that quote etched on her bathroom mirror: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
It starts with self-love. It’s taken me 22 years to look in the mirror and say “You are OK the way you are. You are beautiful and worthy of love. But if you want to be healthier, we can make that happen.”
Want to know how to get there, too?
Set your intentions.
Why are you trying to lose weight? Because you hate who you are now? Nope. That’s not going to help you love yourself. Because other people think you need to lose a few pounds? Nuh-uh. That doesn’t have anything to do with loving yourself.
It. Starts. With. Self. Love.
I think one quote that really helped me is recently is “Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” Once you can understand the concept of self-love, you have nowhere to go but up.
There’s also “If you let yourself be successful, you shall be successful.” Sometimes we hold ourselves back because, subconsciously, we don’t feel like we are good enough for change. But that’s not true at all. We have to love ourselves to know that we are capable of change.
And yes, I am the “Live, Laugh, Love” girl. Sue me.
You are not alone in your self-love battle. I wish I could be there for my younger self, but I know I can be there for you all now. Wherever you are on this self-love journey, you are capable of loving yourself. And I will be there cheering you on every step of the way, just like the people who love you most will, too.