My Journey to Self Love

It's hard to believe today that I am writing about self-love, after spending years of my life looking at myself in the mirror and rejecting what I saw. I have always read empowering messages to feel better in my own skin, but I never thought that one day I would be writing one. But nothing is impossible, and I am here to bring hope to you. 


From a very young age, I have always had nicknames related to my physique like gordita (chubby). Anyone who saw me occasionally commented on how adorable my cheeks look or joked about how much I like to eat. I was never self-conscious of my body before, I have always loved to eat because I am a faithful believer that food fixes any pain and makes the heart happy. However, during my childhood, these comments never seemed as hurtful as they were during my adolescence.


Hours and hours I spent in front of the mirror hating my double chin, my nose that is not small or straight, and asking why do I have so much hair on my legs, back, arms and face? My legs have cellulite, my butt is not round and firm, and my thighs stick every time I walk. My mother's sewing kits were always left messy after my attempts to find a tape measure for my waist every day, holding my breath to see if it would help reduce a few centimeters. Whatever the result was, I still wouldn't be happy until I reached the 60 cm of waist like all ‘beautiful’ girls had.


My tears were not enough for the countless mornings when I woke up hoping I had lost weight and ended up squeezing my abdominal fat with contempt and anger for making me feel ‘ugly’. It was then that I assumed that if I stop eating everything I like, it will possibly free me from that fatness that tormented me.


I decided to give up one of the greatest pleasures of my life, which was to eat without guilt and without shame. I demanded so much from my body and punished myself for falling into temptations. I no longer knew what it was like to eat without later feeling sinful, calculating the calories I ate and the time it was going to take to burn them. I felt miserable, but at the time it did not matter how I felt, what was important was that my weight plummeted and compliments rained over me about how beautiful  I looked now compared to before.


Goal accomplished, my body transformed over time, but when I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the girl in my reflection. I struggled so hard to achieve this new image, but I still didn't feel complete. There was still a space that I needed to fill in my heart, and that something was my own personal happiness and acceptance. I managed to have a skinnier body, but still, I found no more reassurance. I was sinking every day in more insecurities, in ever tiny ‘imperfection’. It was not until then that I understood that no matter how good I looked on the outside, it was not enough to feel satisfied with myself. I had to change on the inside; I had to convince myself that I am beautiful as I am and that my body is to be loved, respected and listened to--not a temple for anxiety, sadness or rejection.


Although it is not a type of magic that happens from one day to another, every day, I learn how mundane physical comparisons with others are, how toxic it is to believe that there is only one way to be beautiful, and how empty and superficial it is to judge myself for how I look when there is much more in me that makes me the strong and valuable woman that I am. There were talents in me that were overshadowed by my image, there were thoughts and passions that nobody could see because they were so distracted judging my body.


I am learning to love myself, to set goals, to learn new things, to do what I love and it fills me with joy. Yes, I learned to take care of myself and classify the foods I eat, no longer with the intention of starving to lose weight, but for my body, mind, and soul to grow healthy and strong because I have many other aspirations and dreams that have nothing to do with how I look.


Today I no longer intend to hide my rolls behind baggy and boring clothes, but I learn to embrace every extra inch of fat in my body, every stretch mark, every hair in improper places, even my chubby cheeks. I embrace myself and create my own definition of ‘sexy’. I fall in love with myself every day, because I don't need anyone's approval to know that I am beautiful. I learn that the only perspective that really matters is my own, not anyone else’s.


Beauty is something completely subjective and each person is beautiful in its own way. Beauty has become a toxic concept of impossible physical standards imposed by a materialistic and superficial society. It tells women they can only achieve this standard by leaving behind her interests, ideals, essence, and personality. Where is it written that a woman has to have one type of body to be considered beautiful? Where is it written that only small noses are beautiful? Who said only sharp jawlines are attractive?


Girl, look in the mirror and realize how beautiful you are. Remind yourself that you are different from others and that's perfectly fine. Accept yourself and love yourself as you are. Fall in love with you who are beneath the surface: your essence. Do not repress yourself, let your beauty bloom from within, shout to the world what you are. Truly accept yourself and learn to feel comfortable in your own skin, flaws and all. You may not wake up feeling bright and confident every day, but never forget that beauty comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors. You are beautiful and do not let anyone convince you otherwise.