“We should be kinder to ourselves”.
I am sure we have all heard this, time and time again, only to find that it is far more difficult in practice than in theory. If you are anything like me, you too grew up in an environment where the consensus about certain standards remained traditional and unwavering. I have struggled with self-image in the past, and always attached a feeling of inadequacy to my perception of self. It is hard to break a habit of doing so when you basically conditioned yourself into it, but I am relieved to say I have developed a newfound appreciation for myself and what I look like. Thanks to the evolving norms in recent years, and what I like to call the “self love” movement on the internet, I am now more confident in who I am and how I present myself to the world.
I would describe my path towards this realization as an ongoing clash between “the good side” and “the dark side” because of the constant internal battle between loving myself and ruminating about the flaws I have. A typical thought I would have is, “Wow, my makeup looks great and I am so excited to go out tonight!” followed by “But my jeans make it look like I have a muffin top so I should go change.” As you can imagine, this became mentally exhausting and oftentimes “the dark side” won. To change the way you think about yourself, especially when certain standards are so ingrained in our society, is difficult. But in my opinion, living a life where your own self-image diminishes the joy you can experience, is not living a life at all.
I knew I had to rewire the way I thought of myself, specifically how I perceived my own body. On my journey of acceptance, I made it a point to practice speaking to myself like I would to a close friend. When you speak to a friend, you try to support and comfort them as best as you can, so why not try doing the same to yourself? As part of my internal dialogue, I intentionally replaced flaws with admirations and turned the negatives into positives. This was not a passive process, as I actively had to alter my thoughts each time I looked in a mirror. But little by little, it became easier to love the reflection staring back at me.
I am not at the destination in terms of acceptance; I do not think there is a destination to reach. It’s just something to keep working on continually as we grow and change. I believe we get to choose what defines us, and I personally have no interest in defining myself by the skin I am wrapped in. Though how I look is important to me, my experiences, thoughts, and ideas far supersede what is on the outside. Our bodies are simply vessels that carry the important parts of us. I hope you love your vessel as well as what’s inside.