On Body Confidence, The Beach, And Healing

On Body Confidence, The Beach, And Healing

Please try not to let a bikini dictate your life
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The sun is beaming down in generous rays while the sky is perfectly cloudless, stretching itself over blossomed trees and all you can think about is how you spent so many hours in the gym but still have cellulite. Your brothers are playing football in the sand, you can hear them laughing with each other and you remember when you felt free enough, comfortable enough to actually have joy in your body at the beach.

I have been this girl. It started in high school and it has taken years to heal my own self-perception, which was burdened with insecurities for far too long. For the first three years of high school I hid in my clothing, I was buried under sweaters, and tried to distract everyone from my ‘ugliness’ by overcompensating in, what in looking back at it, were clearly some absurd outfits (I’m talking butterfly printed tights with sandals and a floral dress). But this all stemmed from a place of deep self-resentment. Why was I not skinny enough? Why was I not athletic enough? Why was I unable to be what they all were? How could they not be happy?

I think I felt that I had somehow reclaimed myself in my own way and that by experimenting with how I decided to hide my body, I found a defensive form of self-expression. I had taken up the attitude of, “they will never understand me, so why not embrace that and try to confuse them even more”. Yes mom, it was a phase and it was seemingly a convincing facade of confidence. But, there was some serious spiritual overhaul to be done as I started to find my true confidence and embrace my personhood holistically.

I ditched the excessive dark lipstick, which was my armor. I ditched the self-deprecating humor. I ditched the victim mindset. I ditched the coping with my pain by treating my body like garbage. I allowed myself to grow. I allowed myself to make mistakes on the journey of finding body confidence. I contemplated what it means in our society today to be looked at, what it means to be empowered versus to be subject to the male gaze. I am still working on balancing all of this. I am an imperfect human but I love myself as is.

As summer comes, I remind myself of this work and how far I have come. For anyone who has struggled with loving themselves and with accepting their shape and size and identity as a whole, I wish you could understand your own beauty. I cannot simply tell you it is so and have you be compelled as if by some spell. But no, this type of work takes time and it takes patience.

Please try not to let a bikini dictate your life. Do not let natural stretch marks or cellulite take the joy of living away from you. You are a goddess, a queen, a garden within your own self and you have the power to take yourself back from pain, from societal standards, from awkward years and dark phases. I love you exactly as you are.

See you at the beach!

Cover Image Credit: unsplash.com

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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