There was a time when I never thought about my body in a negative way.
When I think back on my childhood, I was never put in a place where I would feel negative about my body. My mother never commented on it, neither did my grandparents. I grew up never feeling like my body wasn't already perfect the way it was. This was the pre-hating-my-thighs stage. Before the beginning of puberty and growing up and awkwardness and feeling inferior.
I never really struggled with body image until I was in high school, like a lot of other girls, but I can remember a moment where feeling insecure about my body began. I was getting a drive home from school from my mother, my little brother and sister were in the backseat and I was in the passenger seat. I must've been between 13-15 and I remember looking at my thighs through my jeans. With the way they were pressed down on the seat, it made them look huge. I remember blurting out, "OH MY GOD MY LEGS ARE SO FAT." My mother quickly turned and told me that I was being ridiculous and silly, which I was.
Then there was a moment in high school when I was sitting in my math class in grade 10, the same year my younger sister is in right now. I was 15. I was in school, a place I shouldn't feel like I need to look a certain way in order to fit in. We were doing a group activity and I was paired with a boy and another girl. I can't remember what exactly we were doing, but for some reason he felt the need to comment on my thunder thighs, like they were part of the activity or discussion.
And the fact that that memory still echoes through my mind is both terrifying and empowering. It really goes to show you how hurtful things that are said can haunt us years later. Words are carried with time. In my case, what he said to me has been carried for over 7 years of my life. A simple term has been in my mind for over 7 years.
The 15 year old me would think about that in every photo that my legs were shown, every pair of shorts I tried on that never felt like they looked good, and every bathing suit I never felt like I could wear. The 22 year old me is learning to stop caring about the way things look in photographs or in clothing. The 22 year old me is just trying to accept all of the bits and pieces of her that she may not like.
Yesterday morning after a phone call, I was lying in bed. The sunshine from my tiny window was dancing on my sheets, moving ever so slightly during my time lazing about. In a cozy sweater and (probably too short) pj shorts, my legs were sprawled out, relaxed & rested from my nice 12 hour sleep. It wasn't until I felt the sun's warmth on my legs that I really started paying attention. I stared at my legs, basking in that sunlight. Staring at them the way I would stare at my legs in the old photographs of me when I was 15, but it was a lot different. I felt like I was looking at them with admiration, not disgust. My legs get me places, my legs are strong, and my legs are the way they are supposed to be. They aren't small. I don't have a thigh gap. And since I'm being honest already, I don't know if I'll ever get to a point in my life where I will love them 100%. But I'm human and that means I'll never be happy with everything all the time.
I just want to get to a point in my life where I can accept them, which in a weird way, means I am loving them.
In the bigger picture, I just want to begin loving all of the bits. The bits of me that I hide. The bits I don't like. The bits of me I haven't accepted yet. The jiggly bits. The ugly bits. The bits that aren't glorified in the media. The bits I am working on every day. The bits that will grow and age and change in the future. The bits that I'm lucky to have.
I know it's going to take years upon years to accept them. It's easy for people to say love every bit of your body, it's harder to actually do it. It's a constant struggle to not look at yourself in the mirror and point out flaws. It's hard to not look at others and compare yourself to them. It's hard to just accept everything you are. It's a struggle and it's something I'm going to encounter for the rest of my life.
So, to Stina, who wrote about her bad days, to Meg, who wrote about the story of her nasty eating disorder, and to all of the girls struggling with their bodies: I'm joining you in the struggle. The struggle in finding acceptance and finding the good in the bad and learning to look at ourselves with love. I'm joining you all in the struggle with just learning how to be okay, cause that's all any of us want, isn't it?
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