Getting Real About Body Image

It’s so easy to hate yourself. It’s easy to look in the mirror and be disgusted at what you see. It’s easy to want to change but have no motivation to do so. It’s so easy to self-deprecate.

 

I thought I was over this stage of my life. I thought I was finally happy with who I am and what I look like. But I don’t think the struggle ever truly goes away, it lingers.

 

I’ve tried to be “fit.” I’ve done unhealthy things to change the way my body looks. I’ve skipped many meals. I’ve lied to people close to me about it. I dont think its a problem because I don’t do it all the time.

 

I hate myself for indulging. I hate my temptation for sweets and ice cream 24/7. I hate that I will eat a lot one day then barely a granola bar or protein shake the next.

 

There’s always pressure to look better. To have bigger boobs or a bigger booty,. To have a slim waist and thigh gap. To be skinny. To be strong. To be toned. That being skinny means being happy. That going to the gym 30 times a week means being healthy.

 

Going on social media and, even though you don’t follow them, stumbling upon fitness accounts on Instagram. Girls with loads of motivation and self love, or fake of both. Girls meal planning and counting calories. A picture of them eating ice cream on their “cheat day.”

 

Maybe I should give up social media. Maybe I should stop giving a f*ck. Maybe I should throw out all of my mirrors. Maybe I should stop going to the gym and comparing myself to others. Maybe I should find my own goddamn motivation. Maybe I should accept and love myself for who I am.

 

I’m not shaming anyone for being healthy. I’m not shaming anyone for working out six days a week (or maybe I am because that is too much, your body needs rest) and watching what they eat. Good for them. I am shaming society for giving us these stupid expectations and for letting it get to people’s heads, like mine.

 

Having people tell you you look great is cool. Having them say they wished they looked like you is neat. Having them complain about themselves around you when they’re not doing anything to change it is frustrating. None of it is helping. You have to actively decide. You have to be the one to say enough is enough. You have to be the one to tell people to shut the f*ck up about weight and diets and looks.

 

Everyone is different. Two people could have the exact same routine, eat the same things, do the same workout and still look completely different. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to believe in our heads that things will get better. We need to understand that a lot of the time it’s in our control, but also sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. And that it’s easy to be self-deprecating, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right. 

 

It’s easy to choose the photo where your booty looks the biggest. Where you can almost see abs. Where your boobs are pushed up to your ears. Where you have no stretch marks or cellulite. Where your legs look long and toned. Where your hair is perfect and you’re tan. No one looks like that all the time.

 

There’s a pressure to always have more. Have longer eyelashes. Have perfect brows. Have clear skin. Have bigger boobs and a bigger booty. Have shinier hair. Have longer nails. Have bigger lips. None of it is real."

 

I wrote this down last week. I had just had a terrible gym session and was having a mental breakdown about what it all really means. I had recently looked at a picture of myself in April when I was going to the gym consistently and had bigger biceps and a more toned core. I went into internal rage mode for letting myself get to six months of barely going to the gym when I had been going four days a week for nine months. I’ve lost all the muscle mass I had built up. All the training I had been doing and all the goals I hit are now irrelevant because I am back at the bottom. This all hit me just last week. I hadn’t gone in almost two weeks from being sick and was mad that I could barely run a mile without wheezing. I lifted legs and was pissed at how hard it was to squat 95lbs for three sets of 10 reps when my personal record was 135lbs for 12 reps. I went home and started bawling, throwing a hissy fit and feeling in total agony over my body image. I didn’t want to blame it on studying abroad and traveling all the time because I still have access to the gym. Even in the summer when I had access I only went once every two weeks. My motivation is non-existent and I hate going to the gym. But I want to change the way my body looks. It’s a never ending cycle of wanting to do something about it but hating the ways to do it. So I wrote down all the things that were flying through my head. And I know, it’s a total mess and if it offends anyone I apologize. I wrote in rage mode but wanted to keep it the same to show how it really feels. It took me a few hours after writing it to calm myself down and I didn’t even go back and look at it until today as I write this article. 

 

Reading how I was feeling during this breakdown made me sick. I truly thought I was over the part of my life where I hated how I looked. I was on the road to self-love and just like that I fell through the cracks again. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. It’s hard looking at yourself in the mirror and hating what you see. Especially when there are so many people telling you how skinny you are and how good you look. You don’t always see it that way. And they don’t always see you at your worst like you do. They don’t see you after you’ve been eating all day. They don’t see you evaluate how flat your belly looks when you wake up in the morning and being disappointed at how big it seems before bed. They don’t see your thighs from the angle you do when you sit down. They weren’t there when you bought a bottle of Hydroxycut pills from Walmart your sophomore year of college in an episode of self-hatred (though you never took any and threw the bottle away, ashamed for buying it). They weren’t there when you went to the doctor because you thought you had a binge-eating disorder because you had gained a few pounds and ate all the time. The road to self-recovery and self-love is long and it is hard. People don’t understand that so many people feel the way I do, regardless of how they look. It’s about how we perceive ourselves.

Writing this all down and knowing people will read it is terrifying. I didn’t write this for pity; I don’t want any reactions saying how good I look and that I should love myself, that isn’t the point. I wrote this to make people aware of this issue that SO many young women face. I can almost guarantee that everyone reading this knows at least one person going through the same thing. I’m sharing my experience because even though I went through this just last week, it’s something I am constantly working on, and I want everyone that is struggling to know that there are things you can do about it. I can’t give any advice or say it gets better, but you can always be working on it. This is our one life, we shouldn’t be spending it hating ourselves.

I think a lot about a Facebook post that has been floating around for a while that I found out is from a blog post by Sarah Koppelkam. I think everyone should read it and think about it as much as I do. Find it here.