I would like to start off by saying that I am only 22 years old and have absolutely no clue what I'm talking about.
I usually act like I know a lot and I've been through some shit, but let's be honest, I really cannot tell you how to take care of your body aside from my own personal experiences and I haven't lived a full life to tell you enough about it. So please take everything I'm saying with a grain of salt.
The quick answer to loving yourself is that you can't.
Or more so, you don't have to.
I know, probably not the amazing expanse of wisdom you wanted or expected. But hear me out.
For so many years, it was ingrained in my brain that in order to truly be happy, I had to love my body and that once I did that I would be free from this disastrous mindset of never feeling pretty enough or good enough.
When I was younger, I used to think that if I could make my body into something I could love, it would be easier. If I could just be skinnier, or have longer hair, or longer legs, or a rounder face — then, then I could finally love myself and finally be happy.
But after years of torturing my body, of hating it and wishing it was just something else or something better, I realized that it didn't need me to love it.
My body needed me to accept it and appreciate it.
I tried for so long to make my body into something I was supposed to love that I ended up hating it. I felt as though as if I couldn't love my body, then the only other option was to despise it. There had to be something wrong with me.
And there was, but it wasn't what I thought. My mindset about my body needed to change. I needed to realize that it wasn't there to be loved or worshiped or tortured. It was there to help me get from one place to the other. It was there to help me walk and run and move. It was there to help me eat delicious food and travel far places. It was there to help me do the things I wanted to do.
And I, in turn, needed to help it.
And slowly but surely we came to an understanding- together.
I'm not saying that it's a quick fix. That one day, you can wake up and just decide that you and your body are going to be buds. It takes time and energy to shift your mindset away from that destructive mentality. But learning to accept your body for what it is will allow those heavy weighted ideals to be lifted from your shoulders.
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There are going to be days when your thighs seem just a little too big or you had too much dinner and your stomach has a pouch. There's going to be those moments where your hair is a mess and you can't seem to find the right clothes. There will be those times when you don't like how you look — and that's OK.
But you have to accept your body. Flaws and all.
I still don't love my body. Maybe I'll get there someday, maybe I never will. And maybe life isn't about learning to love every bit of yourself, but just trying to see things for what they are and not letting them get in the way of living life.