Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and mentally pointed out everything that you don’t like about the body standing before you? Do you remember what it feels like for the person you love to see you naked for the first time? Did you ever notice how vulnerable a person is when they have nothing on but a smile or a frown?
Body image is a touchy subject and one that is very difficult for me to write about. In previous blogs I have mentioned my healthy eating habits and need to workout on a daily basis but I haven’t had the balls to tell you why. When I was in grade school, I was made fun of because of my weight -which is a normal occurrence these days. When I started high school, I wasn’t made fun of but I had a lot of trouble getting boys to like me. I assumed that if I lost weight, someone would finally look at me as more than a friend. The sad thing is that after years of not eating junk food, working out every day, and being very careful about my food portions, I finally started getting attention from boys. Yes, they finally thought I was attractive, but I still wasn’t able to find a boyfriend. I soon realized that it wasn’t my weight that kept boys from liking me, it was my personality. In high school, I was self conscious, I was shy, and I was a pushover- not exactly attractive qualities are they? Over the years I have not just changed physically but I have grown up quite a bit. I have learnt how to be myself, how to say what I feel, so on and so forth. But some days I am still left with that anxiety, the fear of gaining weight. I don’t exactly count calories but when I eat unhealthy foods, I can’t help but thinking about my next workout. If I don’t workout for a few days, I start to become physically nauseous. Scary stuff huh?
The insane part about all this is that my boyfriend, my family, and my friends all say that I should gain a few pounds, I probably wouldn’t look so sick if I did. And I know that regardless of what size I am, they will always love me for me. But I still can’t help the way that I feel about myself sometimes. And I wonder how many other girls feel this way? How many men have self image issues? So I conducted my own research. I asked several people these questions;
1) When do you feel the most self conscious about yourself?
2) If there is one thing you could change about your body what would it be?
3) What attracts you more, physical characteristics or personality?
4) In a relationship, how important is being attracted to your partner?
5) Have you ever struggled with your weight?
6) What is better: naturally small boobs or fake perfect ones?
7) How do you feel about the Dove beauty campaigns?
8) What is beauty to you?
Don’t worry – I won’t go through every answer that I received for every question. However I will have you know that I asked an array of different people. Both men and women, with all different body shapes and sizes, and all beautiful. What I found out was that everyone- even men- have certain insecurities. There is always that one thing that you would like to change about yourself. The important thing to figure out is whether you want to change it for yourself or for other people. Everyone that I spoke with agreed that you should NOT want to change the way that you look just to fit in with the people around you, or what the media tells you. And even though there are certain things that you want to change, you should try to embrace everything about you, whether it’s your thighs, your height, your butt, your boobs (or lack there of) – you should learn to love every single inch of yourself. For people who have lost a lot of weight this becomes quite difficult. More often then not, these people become obsessed with the thought of gaining the weight back. They may like the “new” them but just when they start to feel confident about themselves, they eat a burger with fries and maybe even a slice of cheesecake for desert, and BAM they feel like they’ve gained some of the weight back. They get that nauseating feeling in the pit of their stomach and can’t wait to get home and exercise. This is not a healthy way of living. As long as you are at a healthy weight, you eat healthy most of the time, and you exercise, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason for you to not treat yourself! We have enough to worry about these days don’t we? Why do we let our FEAR of eating, CONSUME our lives?
It takes years and years for this type of person to fully be comfortable in their own skin, for them to conquer the fear of gaining weight and just live their life. But the ONLY way to get through it is with the help of your family and friends. These people will be there to tell you how perfect you are, and the best part is – they’ll mean it. I know it is hard to see yourself the way that people see you, but sometimes you have to take that leap of faith and BELIEVE people when they tell you that you’re beautiful, handsome, sexy, or amazing.
Beauty- as some of my interviewees have pointed out- comes from the inside out. A person with an amazing personality will seem to be ten times more beautiful then they appear. The same way a person with a horrible personality will seem a lot uglier than they are. You could be the best looking girl or guy in the world, but if you don’t have a good heart – all that beauty means nothing. Most of the people I talked too, myself included, agree that beauty is confidence. Beauty is being able to “keep your head up even on bad days, being happy with yourself, and not caring about what other people think or say.” Beauty is being able to stand beside someone that is the “media’s” kind of beautiful and not feel threatened or jealous because you know that you have just as much to offer the world as they do, maybe even more so. Beauty is being comfortable in your own skin even when you have those bloated period days, or acne, or a bad hair day. Beauty means looking past your imperfections because any person who truly loves you, won’t notice these things- they’ll just see YOU.
Now, I know this has been a long blog, and with an issue like this, I could go on forever. So, don’t be surprised if there is a part two to this. But for now, I would like to end it on this note…
I double-dog-dare you to undress in front of your bathroom mirror, before or after a shower, with your eyes closed. Stand there for a moment or two and think about everything that you have going for yourself, everything in your life that you’re proud of, all of your achievements, and all of the physical features that you love about yourself. Think about the people in your life that you just couldn’t go a day without. And last but not least, think about the person that you have shared your most intimate moments with, think about how special and beautiful/handsome they make you feel.
Open your eyes… you will no longer see your tiny breasts or cellulite, or big thighs, or receding hairline, or height, or flabby arms, you will see the REAL you. The YOU that is buried deep within. The YOU that you are sometimes afraid to be proud of because you don’t want to seem cocky or arrogant. You will see the beauty within your soul and that will transcend to EVERY other aspect of your life.
Go take a shower or put some clothes on… Your parents are probably wondering what you’ve been doing in the bathroom for so long!
Stay Confident. Stay Beautiful. Stay True.
I just want to thank all of those wonderful people that shared their thoughts, stories, and insecurities with me. I tried to incorporate as much of my research as possible. Just so you know, I’m honoured to have each and every one of you beautiful people in my life- let’s share a slice of cheesecake sometime, eh?
P.S Things are getting finalized tonight – I’ll reveal the exciting news by the end of this week… or maybe I’ll drag out the suspense as long as possible … who knows