It's no secret that I still struggle with my own body image. The past few months have been brutal on my self-esteem, as I struggled with learning to accept my body at this healthy weight instead of wanting more. But after spending so long looking at each of my body parts as things in need of improvement, I found it hard to switch off that "fix it all; be PERFECT!" button in my head. If you asked me to make a list of the things I currently dislike about my body, you would be surprised to hear me mention everything from my ankles, to my large rib cage, to my facial bone structure- and all the bumps and flaws in between. When I look at myself in the mirror, or in most pictures, those glaring flaws stick out like a sore thumb and they overwhelm anything I do like about myself. But if I were to mention these things to others, most likely, they wouldn't exist to them, or they wouldn't be seen as a flaw. To them, these flaws are what make me me. Human. Real.
Why is it that we can look at other women and recognize their beauty, but all we can see in ourselves is the bad? Why is it not utterly hypocritical of me to sincerely say "she is beautiful!" to any woman of any size, but to look into the mirror and feel dejected because I can't fit my mind's-eye of perfection? When I hear girls putting themselves down, I try to let them know all of the ways in which they are wonderful because it depresses me for them to not recognize their own beauty; yet, I cannot do the same for myself. And when I see women posting pictures of their weight loss progress, I congratulate them on setting a goal and reaching it, but am always the one to let them know that they're beautiful at both sizes, lest they base their self-worth on something as fickle as body size. Yet when I look at my own pictures, I'm overcome by shame and embarrassment. We hold these standards to ourselves, but not for anybody else. Why?
We, as a society, have all become driven on this quest for perfection. Sweet, elusive, impossible perfection. When did we become so obsessed with these unrealistic, unachievable ideals? Obviously, the media plays the biggest role in how we see ourselves. When we herald celebrities for their beauty, putting them high on pedestals, and then editing out any sort of flaws or blemishes that make them human- such as cellulite, stretch marks, uneven skin tone- is it any wonder that we look at ourselves, feeling dejected because we fall short? As Cindy Crawford said, "Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford." Not even the celebrities whose "perfect" bodies we so covet are real. We're aspiring to be something nobody can be.
The reason why I was never truly happy after my weight loss was because I never loved myself before or during the process, and I somehow thought changing myself, undergoing that transformation, would magically solve everything I used to find wrong with my body. I realize now that there wasn't necessarily even anything wrong with my body initially; instead, it was my mind, my perspective, my warped sense of self-worth that needed to be transformed. Changing your body does you no good when your perspective is so poisonous. If you find faults with who you are now, you will find faults with yourself at any size. If you want to lose weight, do it because you want to make a healthier lifestyle change, not because there is something wrong with your body. Learn to love your body at any size or weight; not because or despite your size, but because it's you and that's why it's beautiful. It's your only vessel in life, and you should learn to appreciate it because it's the only you that exists!
*I don't take credit for the pictures used here; all are from Tumblr!