This post is for my own therapy. And I hope it helps others too.
Perfection. Society has engraved into our minds an image of a “perfect woman” being someone with a size 0 waistline and a flawless face. I have always struggled with my body image. I was never the “skinny” one. Always just about average. I was never blessed with the convenience of a fast metabolism so eating whatever I wanted was never an option if I didn’t want to pack on the pounds. I’ve spent my life comparing my body to others, wishing that one day I’ll wake up and be that “perfect woman.” My size 6 waist line and athletic build just doesn’t do it for me sometimes. It’s not desirable in society’s terms. It’s just “average.” I want to be happy with the way I look, and I want to be able to be naked in front of a mirror and think, “Damn, your hot.” But, I don’t.
I am the girl who weighs herself multiple times a week, hoping for a pound to shed off the scale. I’ve cried when I look in the mirror, unhappy with the way I look. I have that one pair of shorts that I always try on, hoping that they’ll feel looser one day. People tell us that beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes, but sometimes it’s hard to think in that mindset when you’re constantly striving for a goal that seems so out of reach.
When I look the mirror, sometimes I see a monster. It’s like every insecurity that I have about my body is circled in red Sharpie. I suck in, flex my abs, and envision myself with a “perfect” body. I then wonder why I don’t have that body. Was it the margarita I had last week? Or maybe it was the piece of pizza I had two days ago. I promise myself tomorrow will be THE day that I train to get that “perfect body.” I promise myself that I will be skinny someday.
Since my freshman year of college, I have lost around 20 pounds. The first 10 came off pretty quick, but not in the healthiest way. I was stuck in an abusive relationship with a guy who was obsessed with making me in to this “perfect woman” that he wanted me to be. I was forced to go to the gym most of the time, and he always kept a close eye out for what I was eating. I ate one big meal a day most of the time, but when people commenting on my weight loss, it became an addiction. Since then I have picked up healthier eating habits, and have become rather obsessed with being in shape. But the question is, when is the obsession too much? Most of my posts come off as inspiring. Many of you have reached out to me saying how “strong” and “confident” I am. I don’t disagree with you, but at times I feel powerless too.
Body image has always been an issue for me. I wish I could somehow pack the insecurity in a box and never face it again. I wish I could just unfollow all of the fitness Instagram accounts. I wish I could just understand that most often those bodies are unattainable by those who don’t dedicate their entire life to fitness. I wish I could stop asking Google the calorie count in certain foods and compulsively reading MyFitness Pal forums for answers to questions I already know the answer to. It’s not everyday. There are good and bad days, definitely more good than bad. The bad days usually come after a night of drunk eating or just a day when I feel gross. I lift my shirt up in the mirror angling my body and stomach in a way to make me look thinner, in a way to make me relax and remind myself that I look just fine the way I am. It’s an insecurity that I don’t like admitting, but I don’t think anybody likes admitting it. Confidence is sexy and insecurities aren’t.
It’s these insecurities that lead people to go to extreme measures in order to feel satisfied. Counting calories, crash diets, or just not eating at all. We send our bodies into exhaustion mode. Spending countless hours at the gym and eating the bare minimum, wondering why we aren’t happy yet. We see the pounds fall, but we want more. We dropped 4 pant sizes, but we want to drop 6 instead. There are days we just want to eat a sleeve of Oreos, but when we do we hate ourselves for it. We promise we’ll eat vegetables the next day to compensate. We research the latest diets and depend on Google to provide step by step instructions to achieving the “perfect body.” It’s messed up.
I’m not writing this for pity. I’m not looking for people to comment and say “You look great!” That’s not the point. The point is to remind myself and hopefully others that I’m not alone. I am a 21 year old girl who attempts to live a life of happiness, but I still have my flaws. I don’t like being so obsessed with how I look, but it just happens. I know the scale can be your worst enemy, but I use it anyways. You can tell me that I have a great body, but I’m probably going to disagree with you. It’s something that most girls struggle with, and it pains me to read about girl’s who develop eating disorders as a result of these body image issues. It’s a sick world we live in. It’s a world where we hate ourselves through the entirety of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but we force ourselves to watch it anyways. It’s a world where skinny correlates with sexiness, and overweight correlates with laziness. We wish it were us walking down the VS runway. We wish we were the “perfect woman.”
I know I don’t speak for all girls. I know there are plenty of young women out there who are perfect in the skin their in, and those are the type of women I strive to be like someday. I wish I didn’t obsess over it, it’s probably my biggest flaw. I wish I didn’t hate myself for eating a cheeseburger every once in a while, and I wish I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to other girls. I know what beautiful looks like, and I know it’s not defined by your waist size. I know that beautiful does not necessarily mean being perfect. I guess I’m posting this to remind myself that I am not alone and to remind myself of the progress that has been made. I am way better off than I was when I was a size 10. I am stronger emotionally, physically, and mentally. The weight didn’t just come off because I was eating right and exercising, the weight came off because I was happy. The weight came off because I learned to love myself, no matter what size I was. I do still love myself, but learning to love my body is definitely a work in progress. So, where does one go from here? Unfortunately, the calories I burned from typing this didn’t shed 15 pounds, so now what?
For all the girls that can relate to this post in some type of way, I offer you this advice:
There is no such thing as perfection. Perfection is perceived differently depending on who you talk to, so using that word to define your life is just a waste of time. And as for beauty? You are beautiful. Beauty is happiness. Beauty is confidence. Beauty is your ability to make other people laugh. Beauty is what motivates you to get up every day and live your life. Beauty is from the inside out, not from the outside in. It sound so cliche and repetitive, but our perception of beautiful always seems to gets chewed up and spit out by societal standards. Find what makes you awesome and just run with it. Screw everyone else and their desire for a double zero waist line. Just be at peace with the way you look and rest will fall into place. (Listening to my own advice will be tough for this one.) In my experience, the key to weight loss has been simply happiness.
So here’s my two cents on weight loss:
My weight loss journey hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve worked hard and basically had a life transformation. I strive to live a healthy lifestyle, and I sometimes hate myself for being so obsessed. However, living in a life where everything seems to be out of my control, being able to control how I look gives me a peace of mind. I don’t have an eating disorder, nor have I ever. I count calories, but so what? Although my insecurities do get the best of me sometimes, I would never want to go back to my 160 pound self. I was unhappy, I didn’t care what I was putting into my body, and it most definitely showed. Losing weight is like a drug. It gives you this unexplainable high for a considerable amount of time, but then when you reach a plateau, it’s the most frustrating thing in the world. I have been a plateau for quite some time, fluctuating plus or minus 2 pounds, and this has definitely affected the way I see myself. When I was constantly losing, I felt great, but now that I’m not seeing the results at the same rate, it makes me feel discouraged. It’s important to remember, that you have complete control over your body. If you sit on the couch and eat chips all day, it’s going to catch up to you. If you want to be happy with your body, treat it as so. However, don’t hate yourself for that giant slice of cake you had last week. And if you want a ooey-gooey bacon cheeseburger, just get it! Healthy living isn’t all about deprivation, it’s about treating your body with care. Treating your body with care includes not constantly hating on it all the time; learn to love it because it’s the only body you have. And that’s what I need to reteach myself: learning to love my body again.
We all struggle with our body image at some point in our lives. It’s inevitable. We’re our own worst critics and we let it get the best of us. Just don’t let it define you. Because when you let it define you, you let it take over your life. Stop judging yourself in the mirror, because odds are, everyone else in this world is judging you too. People are assholes. The last thing you need is to join in on the assholes, so just don’t do it. We all can’t have Carrie Underwood’s legs, and we probably won’t a rockin’ bod like Jennifer Aniston in our 40’s, but that’s just life. Be happy with what you DO have and maybe JUST maybe you’ll be able to look in the mirror tomorrow and say to yourself, “Damn, I’m hot.”
Because, you are “hot.” (Whatever “hot” even means.)
Feel free to reach out to me via Facebook or email, I’d be more than happy to listen to your stories and make sure you know that you’re definitely not alone. Love you guys!!