Having your body transform from a size four to a size eight in the matter of months is defeating. Worrying about the camera angle to hide a body part because of the cellulite it will show feels embarrassing. Staying dressed at a pool party because you don’t want people to see the change your body has made feels heartbreaking.

Something that I have realized, from my own experience, is that accepting yourself is more important than the acceptance of others. But I’ve also realized, that is so much easier said than done.

Every time I look at the stretch marks on my thighs now, I see so many things:

I see the summer of doctor’s appointments where the doctors searched for an answer. I see a summer of hard work and healthy eating so that I didn’t have to buy two sizes up in a new pair of shorts. I see a summer where I was the one being talked about in friend groups, “did you see how much weight she gained?” and people making guesses as to why.

But fortunately, I also see the summer where I found a real love who constantly reassured me of how beautiful I was, and never for a second allowed me to think anything different. I see the summer of unwavering support and encouragement from my true friends. I see the summer where I found how adaptable I am to change. I see the summer where God gave me the strength and the wisdom to know that I am worth more than the recklessness and ignorance of a group of girls’ talk at a sleepover. I see the summer where I realized that the size of my clothing did not define my self-worth.

I do not resent nor do I hold a grudge against those who made my changing body a topic of discussion. I also do not sit and criticize you because you are beautiful too. Some things that you should know are that I knew my body had changed, I knew that I was talked about and I knew who you were. You should also know that I love my body, and I love what it's been through. I would also like to thank you for helping me become a stronger person.

I believe that the way a person physically sees themselves plays a major factor in the way they treat themselves, as well as others. I also believe that what the person physically sees is all mental. So love your body, others will learn to love it too. Embrace your physical self, and allow your heart to shine through your personality.

I do not wish away the lines on my legs, because to me, they aren’t unsightly or a reminder of my past struggle; they remind me that I’m beautiful because I can see how "fearfully and wonderfully made" I am, and that the art on my body that proves what I have been through, is a part of me.