“We get to choose what defines us.”
~The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
We are the only ones who understand, with complete certainty, what it’s like to live inside our bodies. Now it’s not often that the thought of living in our bodies crosses our minds. Normally we think of the outside perspective that relates to both our bodies and to beauty. It’s rare to think from within about those problems and fears that can plague our minds in terms of how we view ourselves.
Body image and self-esteem affect everyone in some way. There are those who feel the dark menacing glare of society’s beauty standards more so than others. For me, my weight has always been an issue. A topic that more than one person has felt it their place to discuss, whether it is with my permission or not. Pushing past my weight, there is the fact that my body is disproportionate. I’m relatively slim on the bottom and heavier on the top; this of course, causes many issues in finding clothes that fit my body. It’s not only the issue of finding the clothes, its finding clothes that hide my insecurities about my weight. It’s about hiding parts of me that I have been taught to hate more than any evil in this world.
How it feels to be inside ourselves is something personal. During my time as an undergrad, I was challenged to think about how it felt to be in my body… day in and day out. I was asked to think about my body in terms of beauty standards, society, and most importantly how I looked at my own body after factoring in the different variables.
The result is as follows:
Be Honest, Mindful and Strong
The most important thing to remember about writing your experience is to be honest with yourself, even if it’s negative. The whole point of the exercise is to point out your experience and make you aware of how you feel about yourself by looking within.
Realize that this exercise is not about putting others down because of how you feel. Society has a small margin that we have been taught to understand as the ‘ideal beauty/perfect figure,’ and if you don’t fit within that margin, you aren’t beautiful within their standards. This goes for women who are small and trying to gain weight to women who are bigger and trying to lose weight. And it’s not just about weight: race, height, deformities, freckles, eye shape and color, hair color, and disabilities are just some of the things people may be ashamed of in terms of their bodies. Remember that you aren’t the only one who has something they don’t like about themselves.
This prompt is challenging, and for good reason, because you have to face yourself and your insecurities. You aren’t obligated to love yourself or your body. There is no rule of life that states you must be happy with yourself 100% of the time…although that would be much easier. The important thing to remember is that you have permission to love yourself and your body. The reason people have such a hard time loving themselves is because we have been taught that we aren’t allowed to. That is ludicrous! If you can’t love yourself entirely this instant, for whatever reason, that is okay. But remember that you are allowed to.
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