This child was called fat. This child was called ugly. This child is me.
I was told to lose weight and I tried to diet before I was ten years old. I hated my body. I was told by an adult male “If you just lost 20 lbs, you would be as pretty as your friends.” I thought something was truly wrong with me and wanted so badly to be as thin as the women in magazines, the pop stars I idolized, and my thin classmates. (I’m the blonde on the left)
After suffering from poor body image throughout my teen years, as an adult I learned to finally love my body for the first time in my life. It felt like this breath of fresh air- I truly accepted my body and didn’t feel the need to change it because of someone else’s opinion. I changed my inner voice to self love and never looked back.
How did I do this? It’s easy. No, really, it is. It takes some time, but if you commit yourself to it, you’ll get there. When you see yourself in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? Do you make comments on your appearance? Maybe you see your stretch marks that you wish you could afford laser surgery for. Or your “muffin top” that you dream of getting rid of with a tummy tuck. Society makes us think that any “imperfection” we may have is something that we need to fix. Take this in: your “imperfections” are NOT something to be ashamed of. You don’t need a quick fix for your wrinkles. You are BEAUTIFUL. While pregnant with my second child at my OBGYN office I was using the restroom (peeing in a cup like usual) and while washing my hands I noticed a big poster next to the mirror. It said “WHAT NUMBER ARE YOU?” and had photos depicting the wrinkles between your eyebrows. Were you a 1? A 2? A 3? I stood there and scrutinizing these wrinkles on my forehead that really never bothered me before this moment. I was a 3. A THREE! The highest number on the poster. It suggested some injections that would help- and to ask your doctor about them! After a few minutes of standing there I decided that the wrinkles really still didn’t bother me and I became angry. Here I was at the OBGYN excited to get a check up on my growing child, yet now I am standing in the bathroom being told that I need to fix my face. There are so many messages around us like this that we are subjected to daily. In commercials, magazines at the grocery store, ads on social media, etc. Everyday we can choose to believe them- that we need to be fixed. OR we can stand up and say that we are already beautiful. We don’t have to change our appearance to suit anyone’s idea of what beauty is.
So to start changing your inner voice you have to decide that you are beautiful and that you will no longer put yourself down. When you look at yourself in the mirror, give yourself a compliment. Every time you feel a negative thought creep in- shut it down and replace it with a positive. If your stretch marks are bothering you, instead of thinking negatively about them, turn it into a positive and think about how it was a sign that your stomach stretched to grow your children. It truly is a “fake it till you make it” and although it takes time, you can do it.
There is nothing wrong with deciding to lose weight but be sure that when you do it, you are treating your body right. Don’t body shame yourself while dieting. Encourage yourself and be active. Being healthy mentally is just as important as being healthy on the outside.
See this woman? She was thin. But inside, I was torn apart and afraid to even eat a bite of carbs.
I was so afraid to gain a pound that I was eating about 800 calories a day and working out for an hour each evening. I had gone from 240 lbs down to 150 lbs in less than a year and although I looked thin and healthy, I was an absolute wreck. I was so unhappy. I still hated my body, even more actually. I thought that I was even uglier due to the extra skin I had from losing weight so quickly. When I got pregnant with my son my relationship with food became healthier. After his birth I started putting the weight right back on. Although I gained nearly all of the weight back, I now understood why I had put it back on and I decided to shift my focus on hating my body to accepting it and loving it.
See this woman? I’m happy.
I don’t see my weight as something that is ugly. I am currently working on moving my body more and losing some weight. But, I am doing this in a healthy way and refusing to hate myself throughout the process. I am beautiful.. it’s been quite a journey for me to be able to say those words..and I’d never go back.
Email Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org