Today I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart.
As a young women, I (and I’m sure many of you) am faced with an enormous amount of pressure to be perfect. Perfection in regards to education, public appearance, and, of course, my body. To be honest, I think that it’s unescapable to not feel self conscious about yourself in some aspects.
For example, I’ve never really liked my legs. I have my mom’s bulky calves and thighs that are 100% genetic (okay, soccer for 14 years probably helped a little). And I mean, really, if I stood next to my mom and you only saw are legs, you’d laugh. They’re identical.
That being said, I have a friend who has a very similar body to mine. The funny thing is, she has great, and I mean GREAT legs. I look at them and can’t help but think, “Wow! Her legs look so strong and toned”.
Even though I’ve been told many times that we both have the same lower body and I know my legs are similar to hers and think that hers are beautiful and empowering, a lot of the times I still see mine as nothing but big and beefy and wish for slim legs that go on for miles.
Body dysmorphia is a crazy, crazy thing.
These thoughts were brought up by some girls I know in college. A few of them have eating disorders and I’ve had to watch painfully as they hurt themselves from the self-destructive habits of someone suffering from an ED. They say that when they look in the mirror, they don’t see how thin they’ve gotten and can only concentrate on the fat on their body. They’re skin and bones, and they know they are too, but the demons of body dismorphia somehow manage to creep into their minds and convince them otherwise.
What’s especially scary for me is the fact that an eating disorder can strike anyone. There is no “defining” quality or trait that marks the people who have gotten/have an eating disorder and it seems able to strike anyone. It could have just as easily been me, and I find that terrifying.
I consider myself extremely blessed to not have been a victim of an ED.
The thing is, I don’t think I’m completely free from that threat. No girl is.
The pressure to be thin and perfect is so consuming and overwhelming at times that I can’t help but think that our culture and society, thought to be one of the most advanced in the world, is absolutely mad. I remember studying in a cultural anthropology class about different types of mental illnesses brought on by society that can be found throughout the world, and it really opened up my eyes to how odd the American obsession for an emaciated body really is. Just think about it from the perspective of a girl living in an third world country. She struggles daily to stay alive and provide for herself and for her family. A country where women and girls purposefully starve themselves, vomit up perfectly nutritious food and essentially ruin their good health must sound to them to be extremely and utterly insane.
For what do we do this?
I feel like we put ourselves under such unnecessary stress when we attempt to achieve perfection. Let’s be honest. No one cares if you weigh 5 pounds more or less, only yourself. Heck, other people probably won’t even notice at all. I could diet and battle my way into losing them, obsessing over a number on a scale, and it wouldn’t even end up mattering in the grand scheme of things. I could force my body to run for miles, essentially running myself into the ground, to try to change my physique into a “runner’s body” and get that ridiculously desired thigh gap, but that’s just not my body shape and it never will be.
I know this is a bit of a rambling and unorganized post, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I were to only focus on the negatives about myself, it would eventually destroy me.
Yes, I have my insecurities and know that there are times when I have a skewed vision of myself, but I need to remember that the self-doubt is such a small, small part of who I am as a person. I feel like many of us need to open our eyes and focus on the overwhelmingly large amount of positives about ourselves.
We are all beautiful, strong, funny, unique, and so loved for who we are, even if we don’t believe it at times.
I guess to summarize this long post up, I refuse to let my insecurities consume me. Instead, I choose to focus my energy on being good to myself, worshipping my wonderful body and talents, and living life without the shackles of self-doubt. Beauty is a state of mind and I want to radiate my own personal joy and love to those around me. I’m determined to see myself not in the bits and pieces that I dislike, but as a whole and I will not be a victim to the unrealistic expectations of social media. I just won’t.
And I’d love it if you’d joined me with that pledge.
Other Posts of Interest:
Beauty in Every Feature by Miranda
For [Body] Shame by the Fitnessista
Lots of love,