This is a post I’ve wanted to write many times but couldn’t until I was sure I wasn’t doing it hypocritically. It’s a post I want young people, particularly young women, to read and to truly hear. It’s a post I wish I would’ve read and understood fifteen plus years ago when I needed it most.
Over the past fifteen years I’ve ranged in size from a two to a fourteen. My height hasn’t changed for fourteen of those years so my shape has been ever changing. My weight has went up and down and back again. My relationship with food has often been a tumultuous one that I could never seem to nutritionally grasp until last year. Through each of those sizes the one constant was that I wasn’t happy with myself. My thighs were too big, my boobs too small, my nose had a bump, my hips were too curvy, my hair color was wrong… It was always something physical and what I should’ve really been working on had nothing to do with the way my body looked or the way others perceived it. I’m twenty-eight years old and can honestly say I didn’t find confidence in myself until recently.
The world loves to bombard us with its own image of beauty if we let it. And no one’s image is the same. The most important take away is that it doesn’t matter what your family, friends, or society tell you is beautiful. You should be the only person allowed to create an opinion about what your looks are or are not. That doesn’t start with clothes, makeup, or a number on a scale. It starts with your mind. It starts with telling yourself that you’re going to do what makes you FEEL good because what makes your mind, soul, and body FEEL good is what makes you LOOK good. That’s right, I don’t care what size pants or bra you fit in, you can be beautiful in your own skin.
No, I’m not telling you to go drink because drinking is fun and makes you feel good. At the end of the day, or early the next morning, it doesn’t and it won’t. Nor will drugs fill that void that makes you feel like you’re not good enough. Sex, food, even excessive exercise are not healthy when they’re only serving as a distraction. The true things that make you feel good are things that lead to self-confidence and self-worth. Taking pride in yourself, your actions, and instilling that same pride and confidence in others. Those who feel good about themselves desire to make others feel good about themselves. You don’t build confidence by bringing others down so that you look better in comparison. Negativity never breeds anything other than more negativity and self-loathing. Think about it. If you had a friend who constantly put others down, how would you feel after spending an evening with them? You’d likely feel like pointing out the flaws in everything around you or you’d be left feeling just plain defeated. Conversely, if you’d spend an evening with a friend who took time to try to make everyone feel important, valued, and loved you’d likely come away feeling refreshed and happy.
How do we turn off that constant criticism in our own minds? How do we make the switch from finding flaws to embracing imperfections as unique and worthy of celebration? We start small. We sit down and we start thinking about when we are most likely to pick ourselves apart, we find the root of all that criticism and frustration. The trigger could be stress, it could a desire to be more like someone else than ourselves, or it could be an outside influence. Get rid of the triggers. If there’s too much on your plate, take out the things that don’t bring value and positivity to your life. One thing it took me years to learn is that if something doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t bring positive change to your life, it isn’t worth your time. If you’re pining after a size six body, but your genuinely healthy at a twelve, celebrate THE BODY YOUR IN! There is nothing wrong with different body types. Skinny can be beautiful, average can be beautiful, curvy can be beautiful. Drop the descriptors which are often just disguised criticisms, and realize that YOU CAN BE BEAUTIFUL. You don’t need super slim thighs, overflowing bra cups, or perfectly curled hair to be the best version of yourself. Beauty is about health. Find health through putting healthy foods into your body and being active in physical pursuits you enjoy. I guarantee your confidence will boost.
I think one of the biggest reasons we get critical of our bodies is outside influence. I’ve personally experienced this countless times. I put on an outfit I feel good in, I feel confident about. I put on makeup I love, fix my hair in a way that is pleasing to me. It all culminates to make me feel confident and beautiful. Then one off remark from another person eats its way into my being and I’ve lost all the confidence I created. It isn’t worth it! It doesn’t matter if the person is someone you love and trust or a complete stranger, no one has a right to get inside your head unless you let them. No one who loves you and has your best interest at heart should cut you down. You can just as easily find a positive thing to say about someone as a negative so I leave little room in my life for those who sole focus is negativity.
Love yourselves. The dividends far outweigh those of self-loathing. If it’s easier, start by complimenting others. Don’t look for flaws, look for beauty in everything you see and do. Once your mindset shifts, it becomes easier to transfer that same principle to yourself. You are beautiful, whether you know it yet or not. Don’t waste years waiting to figure it out or for someone else to tell you. The only person who truly needs to know it, the only one person who really HAS to tell you, is you.