I am in love with the body-positive movements taking over the Internet.
I am excited to see “plus-size” models like Tess Holiday and diverse body types in the media. I read articles like Bustle’s 11 Body Positive Hashtags and imagine my face transforming into the heart eyes emoji. I watch videos like the one below and scream, "YASSS QUEENS!"
I am all about women being empowered. I am all about women not basing their values on their bodies. I am all about body positivity among women. I've been busy commenting on my friends' selfies and sharing articles about the issue to spread the word to everyone: YOU are perfect the way you are.
I have been passionately supportive of every woman except one: myself.
Like everyone, I wish I could change a few things about my body. I've gained the college/relationship pounds. I have stretchmarks and cellulite. I feel uncomfortable wearing certain clothing styles. I'm easily defeated when clothes shopping and during swimsuit season. All I tell myself is that I've let myself go and that I'm unattractive, overweight, and out of shape. I look gross in everything, and every part of my body is flawed in some way. I'm sure most of us are familiar with the following scene from "Mean Girls" that echoes this behavior:
It seems ridiculous when presented in the movie, but this is what I do multiple times a day, even though it would break my heart to see other women doing it.
The monologue in my head is much different from the positive dialogue I have with other people about their bodies.
My duplicity is difficult for me to admit. It's difficult for me to say that I'm a total hypocrite. I don't want people to know this about me.
But this is my first step to getting better: admitting I have a problem.
If I believe so strongly in encouraging and empowering other women, why can't I extend the same courtesy to myself? Why could I realize that someone else was suffering from social pressure to be perfect but not recognize the same behavior in myself?
This hypocrisy hit me especially hard the other day when the aforementioned Tess Holiday posted this picture on her Facebook page in response to a comment in "O magazine."
I, of course, mentally applauded Holiday and immediately shared her post all while thinking, "Yes, Tess looks great. Anyone can wear a crop top if they want to! ... Except for me."
Then I paused and realized that I was living by a set of rules I had made exclusively for myself. If I heard anyone else saying to someone, "Everyone can wear what they want except for you," I would be outraged, but there I was doing it to myself. Totally unfair.
It took that moment for me to understand that I deserved the same respect and love that I was giving everyone else. I had broken the body positive golden rule:
Treat yourself as positively as you would treat other people.
Someone once told me: Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn't want someone else to say to you.
This, like most good advice, is very wise and helpful, but it's difficult to follow when you see yourself every single day and compare your reflection to the filtered images of your friends on social media and the photoshopped pictures in magazines.
I had this realization a few days ago, and I decided in that moment that I was going to be more positive and loving toward myself. I haven't gotten there yet. It will probably take me a while. But I'm trying because, I finally realize, I deserve better than how I was treating myself before. My friends and family always say kind things to me, and I brush them off as being polite. I don't see what they see.
I'm not writing this for people to applaud me. I'm writing it because it's true for me, and I suspect it is true for a lot of other people. I'm learning that joy and appreciation has to come from within before I can appreciate it from others. My worth, like yours, does not begin and end with what I see in the mirror. I realize that the need to feel beautiful can be harmful and a result of social constructs. But, at the end--or beginning, or middle--of the day, everyone wants to feel beautiful. What we consider beautiful needs some adjusting. I'm starting to adjust myself so I can see that.
I'm continuing on my journey to be kinder to myself one look in the mirror at a time. More than likely, this will be a lifetime journey filled with obstacles, but I think it's a journey worth taking. And if you identified with any part of this piece, I hope you join me. We're beautiful, and every part of us is worth appreciating.