Puberty hit me as I think it hit many of us- square in the face.
When I was young I was always complimented on how skinny I was and how flat my stomach was, but once I transitioned into my “adult body” I gained hips and curves that felt foreign and uncomfortable. I have the body type that many women have: curvy.
As a new teenager, I hated it. I spent most of middle school and all of high school trying to make myself look smaller. I would eat dainty portions and convince myself every few months that I would go to the gym and get in shape (spoiler alert: these episodes would generally last 3 days tops), but I quickly learned there’s no changing the way your body is structured. My body felt like a prison that I could never escape.
I carried these feelings with me into college. I was terrified of the “Freshman 15“. I felt insecure, surrounded by all of these beautiful women with their nike shorts and toned legs.
I was walking around campus in the middle of the night with one of my best friends complaining about these feelings. I told her how I felt huge in comparison to all of these women around me, and even women I’d never met but only scrolled through their Instagram accounts.
Her response, caught me off guard.
“Do you think I’m fat?” my friend asked me.
I was shocked.
“Of course not,” I answered.
“You’re smaller than me,” she said, “if you really think that you are huge, you must think the same thing about me.”
I was frozen.
I had always considered my friend to be athletic and fit. Her curves fit her frame perfectly.
We walked by a reflective door – yeah, we were the same size, so why the hell was I being so hard on myself when I would never have dreamed of saying these things about my friend? I had never realized that by putting down my own body I was indirectly putting down my friends and the people I love dearly.
I find my friends beautiful and amazing, so why shouldn’t I find myself beautiful and amazing as well? I suddenly saw myself through new eyes.
Of course this is easier said than done- after all it’s human nature to be hard on ourselves, but perhaps there are a few ways we can be kinder to ourselves, and by extension to those we care about around us:
- When you’re about to say something negative about your body or the way you look, ask yourself, “Would I talk to my friend this way?”
- Recognize, difficult as it might be, that perfection doesn’t exist and it’s so easy to drive yourself crazy trying to achieve it. You’re always going to find something you can “improve on” if changing yourself is what you’re focusing on.
- Remember, humans come in all shapes and sizes and there are people out there who would love to have all of the quirks you hate about yourself. You know, like the fact that people with naturally curly hair wish they had naturally straight hair and vice versa.
- Try to compliment yourself in the same way and with the same sincerity you would compliment your friends. Looking really cute in a new pair of jeans? Tell yourself in the mirror and watch it change your whole day!
At the end of the day, we should be kind to ourselves not just because the way we talk about ourselves can affect the ones we love, but it affects us. Of all the loves you can have in the world, self-love should be #1 on your list, and we could all probably do a lot better job of showing ourselves acceptance.