The first time I thought I was "fat" I was twelve years old. I was far from it, and was a fairly active kid who was on the cross country team, yet I somehow got it into my head that I should weigh less.
Fast forward to senior year. I am 17 years old, still running everyday and trying on my prom dress in the dressing room of a Nordstrom while my mother waits outside. The dressing room was the kind of dressing room that shows your body at different angles due to mirrors being everywhere. It was a beautiful dress--light blue lace that went straight down past my ankles--I would need to get that hemmed I thought to myself when I looked over my shoulder and saw my arms from a different perspective.
"Is that what my arms really look like?" I thought to myself as I pinched the skin. Thoughts started running through my mind. "My arms are fat, I hate my arms. I hate how--I hate...."
Hate becomes a common narrative when women describe parts of their bodies, even girls, which is a damn shame. And boys and men, who are expected to have perfect muscular bodies like women are expected to have a tiny waist, huge ass and boobs, and thighs that don't touch. Totally unrealistic expectations, yet we are taught that they are the standard we must reach.
Even now, as a 20 year old junior in college who still remains active I still find different ways to hate my body. And whose fault is it? Is it mine? Is it societies? Or is it the one relative who told me I looked like I "got a little chunky" over the school year? Only to tell me a few months later that I look skinny?
Is it the models plastered all over magazines, social media, and beyond?
Self love, while extremely important, seems impossible when everyone around you is saying conflicting things.
You're told to love your body, but if you're "too skinny" you're told to eat a burger. If you are "too fat" by societies messed up standards, you are told to eat a salad.
I'll be honest. I do not always love my body. Most of the time I hate it. I look into the mirror and criticize and compare like no tomorrow. It is what I have been taught to do. It is what we teach our girls to do, and boys.
How does one learn to love what they have been taught to hate? Self love is becoming more popular than ever, and on magazines and everywhere else you are told to love yourself. But how can you love what society has told you is wrong?
My thighs touch--which is totally normal and fine. And yet I sometimes look at them and wish they were different. Sometimes I wish that I were different---and I hate having thoughts like that.
Looking in the mirror and telling yourself you love yourself should be easy, but our society has made it so hard.
I still sometimes mouth the words out to myself while looking in the mirror, hoping one day I'll actually mean it. Someday in the future, I will speak those words out loud, and hopefully millions of others will be able to as well. I hope that the next generation grows up with the kind of relatives who never tell them they looked like they gained weight. I hope they tell them they look perfect, because they are.