Last week, I looked at my calendar and became anxious when I realized summer is just three weeks away. Three weeks until endless days spent on the beach followed by long nights in the pool with friends. While this may seem like something to look forward to, for a girl with body image issues, it is a disaster.

Personally, I've always been someone who has struggled with my body image. For many people who know me who are reading this, it may come off as a surprise. While I often keep it to myself, I will admit that I find myself wishing I could change my appearance more often than I should. Although I am a healthy weight, I have and always will have a bigger build than some of my friends. No matter how much weight I lose my chest will always be a little bit bigger and my shoulders will always be a little bit broader, but that's just my body.

I didn't realize the problem I had with my body issues until one day in my race to get the perfect figure I crashed. For weeks, I restricted myself to a low carb diet and ate nothing other than salad and fruits if I even ate anything at all. I overworked myself at the gym to the point where I felt sick and could barely get up in the morning. After receiving many compliments about my weight loss from friends, I thought I needed to continue what I was doing. What I didn't realize is that I was hurting myself both physically and mentally in the process.

Each day got harder and harder for me. My poor diet led to me having constant headaches, little to no energy, and no desire to do anything. After working out, I often found myself feeling extremely nauseous and throwing up because my body couldn't handle what I was doing to it. In the mornings, I could barely push myself to get up and get out of bed. I was starting to miss class and avoid social interaction. After about a month of my unhealthy lifestyle, I crashed. I realized that if I didn't start getting myself together again I was going to reach the point of no return.

I slowly started working normal food back into my diet. While my figure may not be where I want it to be, I, for the most part, am healthy again. I will admit, there are times when I go for days where I eat nothing at all. I often catch myself not eating my first meal until 10 at night. However, I have finally realized my problem. Becoming aware of my body image issues and eating problems is the first step to solving the problem as a whole. I know that one day I will feel comfortable in my own skin.

That is just my story. The sad thing is, I know I'm not alone and there are thousands of people with stories out there much worse than mine. I've watched my friends who in my eyes have the perfect figure breakdown over their appearance countless times and make comments about things they wish they could change. It pains me to watch people with such good souls feel so bad about themselves.

Society has shaped us into being so obsessed with our bodies. Children learn by observing and imitating what they see. As little girls, we play with Barbie dolls that have unrealistic figures. The proportions of Barbie dolls occur in less than 1 in every 100,000 women. Yet for some reason, we tend to believe that a Barbie-like figure is beautiful. Growing up, we watch Victoria's Secret commercials and are given the idea that we must look like that to be found attractive. Social media influencers post about positivity and self-love yet almost every social media influencer is sponsored by some sort of waist training or weight loss tea company. What social media leaves out and what we are not taught when growing up is that not everyone has the "perfect" hourglass figure. Everyone has different builds. We are made in different shapes and sizes but that is part of the beauty of being human. Learning to accept that is the first step to loving yourself.

So to anybody dealing with body image issues, you are not alone. Next time you look in the mirror instead of pointing out what you don't like about yourself, point out what you do. Try to look up positive affirmations. There are hundreds of apps out there that you can download on your phone that will send a little burst of positivity to you every day. Instead of creating weight loss goals, et goals focused on becoming the best version of yourself. Finally, remember that no matter your shape or size you are beautiful and you were put on this earth for a reason. The things you hate the most about yourself some people out there would kill for. I know that doing these things are not going to solve all of your issues but they do help a little, I promise. I know it's hard but try to start loving and appreciating yourself. I'll be right there with you.