I have struggled with hating my body for as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl, I felt that something was inherently wrong with me. Like I was wrong for just being myself, just existing. I grew up watching movies with women who looked perfect to me but would still complain either this or that was wrong with their bodies. My Grandma always said she hated how big she was. My Aunt struggled with eating disorders. My mother almost never had a good thing to say about herself. The environment was toxic. Especially for a very young, very impressionable girl. I started my period when I was 9. The first thing my Dad said was “This son of a bitch better not become sexually active.” So I learned to hate my body for bleeding too.
I learned very quickly that hating your body as a woman was normal. More than normal. It was expected. And it wasn’t enough to hate your own body, no. High school taught me that in order to be normal, I had to hate not only my body but other bodies as well. I had to comment what flaws I saw in every other female body too. So I did. Her jeans were too tight and her shirt was too baggy. Her skirt was too short or too long. She was this or that. Too much or not enough. I did that because that is exactly how I felt about myself. I felt that I was altogether too much and not enough. Too much body fat percentage, not enough pretty. Too much personality, not meek enough. Too smart, not enough brainlessness. After all, who would want to date a girl who was smarter than a boy.
I binged and purged. And binged some more. And some more….and some more. After high school I gained weight. Fast. I didn’t really know what was happening with my body so I hated it even more. I noticed that I started growing more hair on my face and arms. I was really tired all the time and my periods became very heavy and very painful. After having a period for 9 months solid, I finally went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I learned that it was very easy for my body to gain weight. I learned that my body would produce “unwanted hair” as my doctor called it. I learned that my mood would swing back and forth and that my emotions were also going to betray me. So I hated my body for that too. I hated my body for everything that it did and didn’t do. I hated my body for being too much and not enough.
Fast forward to 25 and something huge changed in my life. I found community. I started to get spiritually active and really pursue a path with the Divine. I met women both on the internet and in real life who had the same struggles I have. I discovered a company called Healthy Is The New Skinny and saw how they were battling body shame and the way society pressures women. I found other women with PCOS and saw how they struggled. I realized one key thing, I am not alone. That was huge for me. I felt alone all my life. I have had depression and anxiety since I was a child. Something I struggled with alone until last year, when I finally decided to get help.
As soon as I realized I was not alone everything changed. I view myself differently. Instead of seeing PCOS as a bad thing, I am grateful for it. It has taught me so many things. It has taught me how strong my body is. How amazing the female body is. It has taught me to rise above my emotions and live in truth. It has taught me how important self care is and how loving yourself first really does allow you to love other people better. My anxiety and depression have taught me so much too. How important life is. How very special and unique I am. Depression and anxiety have made me much more sensitive to other people and the things they are going through. They have taught me that it is SO important to talk to people when life gets really hard.
I have gained a lot of new tools now. I use them every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I have a few mantras that I want to share with you. When I am feeling upset about the way my body looks, I say “I completely love and accept myself.” Sometimes I say it in my head. Like when I see a woman walking down the street who I deem to be way more valuable than I am because of her looks. Sometimes I say it out loud, like when I am shopping for clothes and nothing seems to fit me. I take a deep breath and let these words wash over me. I say it over and over until I soak up these precious words their meanings. I also have learned to pause. When I am feeling overwhelmed at my body I will stop whatever I am doing and listen. I listen to my breathing, I listen to my heart beating. I listen to all the sounds around me and I look at everything around me. “The beauty I hear and see and feel around me is the same beauty inside of me” I tell myself over and over again.
Finally, I reflect. I take time, usually at the end of the day, and reflect on all the things I have been through. I think about how my body has been such a great home for me. How she has kept me warm and strong and alive all these years. How she has been through so much and can still stand strong. I write thank you notes to her. I let her know just how amazing she is. My body is damn strong. And you know what, she is damn pretty too. I reflect on how I really like that my eyes change from green to blue to grey. I love how my hair isn’t exactly blonde nor exactly red. I love how freckles line my shoulders and arms, proof that I have spent many playful days in the sun. I love how my mouth is the perfect size for my face. I love how my nose sits just right.
We need to remember to love ourselves. We NEED to. Our bodies do SO freaking much for us. They carry us through the flames of life and out the other side. They keep us breathing and living. They allow us to experience so many things. Sometimes painful, yes, but so beautiful also. We need to let our self love radiate through us so that other people will look to us and ask us how we do it and we can look back with a smile and show them how to be Body Positive.
Stephanie’s Body Positive, Self-love recommendation- God Loves Ugly by Christa Black**
-The Curvy Broke Girl
**I (TheCurvyBrokeGirl) have not personally read this book. Please leave opinions, recommendations, etc.. below to widen the body love, self-esteem, self-love library here on TheCurvyBrokeGirl.