Body image is something girls struggle with all around the world. Throughout our lives, we are taught that beautiful girls are natural, tall, and pin-thin, with airbrushed stomachs and cheekbones that could cut through a cake. But, truth be told… no one actually looks like that. Our perception of beauty has been distorted since we were young and that’s unfair.

Growing up I had a very hard time accepting myself, the body and skin I was given. I always wanted to change my hair color, I never believed that my natural curly brown hair was pretty enough. I never accepted my thicker dancer legs, I strived so hard for that thigh gap. I constantly checked my weight to make sure it was “normal,” even though I never considered my weight healthy. I was so sickly obsessed with the idea of a perfect body and perfect life that I was never satisfied with myself.

During middle school, I never felt very accepted. I was awkward, and I’ll be honest I made it hard on myself to make friends. I excluded myself and was never really happy. I constantly pushed myself to try to be more likable, to get out there and try new things but it never really worked. I was stuck in a never ending cycle of self-hatred that I so badly wanted to get out of. I struggled to keep up with school, my grades weren’t always the best and I could tell I was starting to let this battle win the best of me.

High school was hard too, I was my toughest critic. There were always long nights and I sometimes felt as if I was incapable of completing what the day had in store for me. I had sat crying in my shower at 2am because I couldn’t even fathom the thought of facing school the next day. When I didn’t feel like waking up the next morning I’d start to tear up because I knew the demons in my dreams were far less worse than the ones I faced during the day.

It wasn’t until the end of my junior year of high school that I started to overcome my demons. And, I have a few angels to thank for helping me get there. Throughout my short life, I have experienced personal lows that had me begging for release. I had looked the devil in the eyes and ask him to take me because I believed Hell would be better than any life on earth. My self-worth would not have been recognized if it weren’t for my parents, my sisters, and my best friend.

Having so much self-hatred really made my insecurities some of the hardest things to live with, but learning to appreciate them made me who I am today. So, to my sisters, thank you for being my heart. There was never a day that I was down that your smiles couldn’t make my heart happy again. The way the three of you give me hope for each day is something I will never be able to thank you enough for. To my best friend, thank you for being my support. Before I met you, it’s safe to say my life was completely different. I can come to you for absolutely anything and even though we’re almost 300 miles apart from one another you’re never more than a second away when I need something. And finally, to my amazing parents, thank you for being my strength. I have never met two more caring, selfless, and supportive people. Throughout my 19 years, you two have been my rocks. I have learned so much about myself through the both of you to know that I am worth more than what I was put through. Thank you, both, for teaching me that I am Perfectly Imperfect.

So, to the little girls that are growing up in a world where and self-hatred is more common than self-love, just know this… you are beautiful, you are loved, you are worth more than what people tell you, and you are not alone. Do not ever be afraid to be comfortable with your own skin, love every inch of yourself and never accept anything less than what you deserve.