Learn to Love Your Body

My appearance has always been something I’ve struggled with. I used to hate my body, and get teased for having a…erm….disproportionately pronounced lower half. I remember one day in about grade 6 I went over to a friend’s house and we watched America’s Next Top Model and did butt exercises so that we could look more like the models on tv. I used to hate my stomach and wish it would become flatter. I always thought my boobs were too small for my frame. I hated my curly hair, my freckles, and my hazel eyes. I have been straightening my hair every day since I was 13. I just never really got accustomed to how my body is, and never was able to accept it as it was. I always was able to find something I wanted to change.

When I was in middle school, I hated who I was. I thought that if I changed how my body looked, the rest of the world would like me better. When I moved on to high school, I thought that being thinner would make guys want to date me, and make girls want to be my friend. I thought being thinner would make me more outgoing, and I would be happier in every way because of it.

In the summer of 2010 I went to military training for 9 weeks. I have never been so physically exhausted for so long, or pushed my body so hard every single day. My arms got really strong from all of the pushups I had to do. I was strong. I was fit. And yet, when I got home I couldn’t adjust to watching my muscle tone diminish and go back to my normal state. I gained about 15 pounds after basic. And it was hard to look in the mirror and see my body changing beyond my own control.

In September of last year, I wrote an entry in my journal about how I felt about my body. I had gained a few pounds over the summer, but I was used to my weight fluctuating slightly. What I wrote, though, scared me when I read it back.  It said “I used to say I wouldn’t let myself get fat because I love myself too much. Maybe it isn’t that I love myself too much, but that I would just hate myself too much…”

Thinking about this now, it worries me how I used to think. I have come to a point where I now realize that my body can be strong, fit, and powerful if I help it to become that. And even when I’m in great shape, most of the things I hate about my body are still the same. My hair is still curly, my freckles are still ridiculous, and my butt is still bigger than it really should be to fit the proportions of my body. So why not accept that there is a lot that I can’t change, and just try to get used to it?

Now that I’m dating James, he is very good for my self esteem. He tells me things like “I like your curvy bum”, “your freckles are cute”, and my personal favourite, “I like that your boobs aren’t too big. They suit you the way they are.”

So let’s all take a moment to be happy with what we have. There is so much that is beyond your control, and hating it isn’t going to make it better. Being angry at yourself for not being a super model isn’t going to turn you into one. And there isn’t one definition of “beauty”.

Be who you are, and be happy with it. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world has different ideas of what is beautiful. Maybe it all is.

And if you don’t love yourself, how can you expect someone else to?

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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

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