How do we get to the point of being comfortable with our own bodies?
As women, almost all of us have had a battle with our bodies at some point in our lives. We have let a comment or a look affect how we feel about ourselves. We have let the number on the scale, or the size of our jeans determine our worth. We have criticised other women for their bodies. We feel we are either too fat or too thin, but we never feel right.
Striving to be what we see in the media can damage a woman’s self-esteem. And what kind of example are we setting for the young girls who look up to their mothers, aunts or older sisters? We need to show young girls that it is more important to have a healthier attitude, not a lower weight.
After years of struggling with self-image and weight, I know exactly how it feels to be that woman who feels guilty, unworthy, and unloved. I have been thin, and I have been very fat, but now I consider myself happy with myself, and it took me time to get here. My priority has shifted from thinness to health.
My biggest obstacle was ‘self-acceptance.’ Instead of trying to be the best version of myself, I wanted to be someone else. But I finally learnt to honour and respect my body instead of seeing it as a punishment. I however do not encourage letting go to a point that you develop health issues because I did when I gained significant weight.
The first step is to change your mind set. Now how I feel about my body is more important than how I look. Don’t get me wrong, I still have days when I question myself – did I really need to eat the whole pizza? Instead of dreading that decision, I just tell myself: it happened, and it is not a big deal and I will try not to do it again. Learn to be kind to yourself.
My biggest obstacle was ‘self-acceptance.’ Instead of trying to be the best version of myself, I wanted to be someone else. But I finally learnt to honour and respect my body instead of seeing it as a punishment.
When I worked with adults with mental health illness, I was constantly around people who had lived their entire lives in wheelchairs. It made me realise how lucky I am that I can walk because it is all a matter of perspective. There are so many people in the world who wish they could use their limbs to run, dance, and climb – things we may not even think about. Of course, the realisation of one’s luck should not be based upon witnessing someone who may have even less.
Your body can do amazing things. Appreciate that and do not forget it. I believe life is too short to keep focusing on your flaws. Count your blessings and not your imperfections. Stop being mean to yourself because it is nice to be nice. Compliment other women around you. Smile at them. Encourage them.
As I grew older, I started to accept my body shape and I stopped comparing myself to others. For me, it is most important to be the best version I can be, and not an idealised version of someone else. It took me years to not care how other people see me. Many women grow up wishing their waists were smaller, their legs were longer, they were thinner – pretty much wishing they were someone else.
I have stopped comparing myself to celebrities because they have plastic surgeons, personal trainers, nutritionists, makeup artists, and hairstylists who make them look the way they do because it is their job. And it is not our job to look like them, but if you can dedicate that time and money – go for it. Just don’t obsess about it so much that you stop enjoying living.
Another problem that I have seen regarding appearance is the extreme hate that follows people we see on social media. It does not make any sense to dislike or hate someone because of their lifestyle or privileges.
Once I gained 20 kgs in three months. I have the stretch marks to prove it. I also had to learn to take care of my body. I could not get upset with myself if I decided to eat every unhealthy food and stay lazy, and then blame my body for not doing what it is supposed to. I started to focus on health rather than just how I looked. I started to treat my body the way I would treat a loved one.
If you feel unhappy with your body and want to lose weight, the first thing is to find out ‘why’ you want to lose the weight. If you are unable to answer the question honestly, it will be impossible to maintain the weight. You cannot lose weight for someone else and you also cannot lose weight for yourself unless you know why it is important to you.
It is also very important to have realistic expectations of what is possible based on your genetics, body type, and age. We need to be disciplined and dedicated to seeing the results, it is not easy, and it is a lot of work.
When you look at the grand scheme of things, how we look is very negligible, but it is hard not to let it consume our lives. If I had to define beautiful, it would be a kind heart with a pure soul and a smart mind. Cliché but true beauty comes from within, you can only look at something for so long.
Accepting who I am stopped me from trying to fit into the unrealistic archetype of what a woman should look like. So be kind to yourself. You may not know it, but you are beautiful, and you have no idea how lucky you are.