Why Flat Stomachs Are Overrated

Why Flat Stomachs Are Overrated

Health and happiness and kindness should always be a priority over achieving society's ideal body shape.

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When I was younger, I struggled with my weight. I was a little on the chubby side, and definitely bigger than my classmates, but it never really bothered me. I was a happy kid. I loved life, and I even loved myself.

But to this day at 21 years old, I still remember sitting on the bus and watching two boys from my class look back at me and laugh. When they finally caught my eye, one boy said, "Hey, Theresa! You're fat. "

Fat. I had never used that word to describe myself before. But watching those two boys say it over and over again to my face, watching my peers laugh at me, I realized that suddenly, my body was not 'society-approved.' It was wrong to be fat; it was embarrassing to be fat; it was shameful to be fat.

That night was the first night I went home and cried to my parents because of the way I looked. Mind you, as a child with asthma, I had been on numerous steroids and medications that made me gain weight. I would grow out of the chubby stage one day. But none of that mattered to those two boys who pointed out that my body was considered less than ideal, and ultimately pulled the trigger and shot me into what would become a lifelong struggle with body image.

I'm not sharing this for pity. I'm sharing this because I accepted my body and was happy with how I looked until someone told me that I didn't look the way society wanted me to look. That I wasn't the thin ideal. And apparently, not having a flat stomach and a tiny waist was wrong. Even at eight years old.

Isn't that bothersome? That people can be happy with how they look until someone tells them otherwise? That one comment made as a child can affect someone decades later?

What we need to learn as a society is that being thin is not what's important; what's important is our health and our happiness, and most importantly, being kind to one another. I may not have a flat stomach, but I'm healthy. I have days where I hate the way I look, and I envy other girls' bodies, but I would never make anyone feel ashamed for the way they look just to make myself feel better. We have to make ourselves feel beautiful on our own and together as a society. Let's stop putting others down for such superficial, trivial things such as physical appearance, and instead, build each other up.

It only takes one comment to affect someone negatively for the rest of their life. Remember that before you speak to someone.

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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Getting A Cat Senior Year Of College Saved Me, And It Could Save You

Even if you're not a cat person (which I know most of you aren't), there are valuable lessons to be learned from a furry companion, especially as a senior in college.

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In the first week of September during my senior year of college, I already felt like I was bungee jumping with the wrong cords that could snap at any second. No matter what anyone tells you, senior year is no joke. With all of the feelings of stress and anxiety, you would think that putting a new pet into the mix of all of that is the worst idea someone could have. But, really, when do we ever get to make crazy decisions if not senior year of college? So I got a pet, of course. Why not live on the edge?

Let me tell you, finding the animal you want to adopt is a pretty magical moment. I went into that shelter looking for a cat that was at least a few months old and had its bearings on life. I came out with one that was barely nine weeks old (totally not the plan). It was all because when I held him he booped his nose on mine and my heart turned into a puddle on the floor. I knew right then that this would be my cat. His given name was Batman, but we decided to call him something much suaver: Bruce Wayne. He also is a black cat, so I would say the name fits well.

It is important to note that before this cat saved me, it wrecked me. The first week of ownership was one of the biggest growing periods of my young life. I cried every day. The realization that I was now responsible for such a small, fragile being was, to say the least, earth-shaking. But, after that first week of worrying if he would even survive in my care, the dust settled, and I got to explore what it was like to not only care for an animal but to have a new companion to live life with. I watched him explore and learn and play. I saw him grow from a small kitten to a fierce lion-cat (who very much enjoys being like a lion and chasing his "prey" a.k.a., my limbs and extremities). I was able to nurture this small being and see him grow into the cat he is today. It has truly been a gift to be such a vital role in his life. High-key, this experience has given me a glimpse of what motherhood might look like (disclaimer: I know that will be much much harder and I'll cross that bridge when I get there).

Now onto the part about how he saved me. I learned what it is like to care deeply about another being while also being responsible for them. I learned how to balance my social life, spending time with him and making him feel loved. I learned how to tell if he was sick or not. Arguably, the most important thing I learned, was that if you think they have an ear infection, you're probably wrong and you probably don't need the $120 ear drops the vet will give you (look, overreaction to their first sign of illness is a thing and you will definitely experience this). But really, the companionship I experienced from Bruce during senior year boosted my morale and kept me motivated to finish undergrad strong. I don't think I would have made it through my senior year if I hadn't had Bruce there to show me love, support me, and keep me laughing. He became a companion that I would not be able to find in a person. He also wasn't someone I had to talk to. We could just sit, play, and sleep without having to exchange words, but even in this nonverbal relationship, he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me. Having him around made everything much brighter and mean much more.

Would I suggest everyone get a cat senior year of college? The cat-loving part of me wants to scream "Yes!" and meet you at the Humane Society tomorrow, but the logical part of me knows that it isn't for everyone. A pet is a huge responsibility and if you aren't ready for that, then don't step into that part of your life. On the flip side, I also urge you to be open to the possibility of a pet being just what you need. Who knows? Your pet could get you through one of the hardest seasons of your life. They could also be just another thing to love and smile about during one of the best seasons of your life. They're with you through it all! Whether your pet barks, meows, or chirps, you'll learn valuable life lessons and gain a loyal companion.

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