My Open Letter to Those Struggling with Body-Image

Hey Beautiful, 

Before I begin, I know that “beautiful” probably isn’t how you’re feeling right now, but I want you to know that beautiful is what you are, and do not give anyone the power to take that away from you. 

Okay, Beautiful: let’s do this. 

Here’s the thing: it’s okay if you want to make changes to your body, or to not like something about yourself— and if you have the urge and motivation to change that something or something(s), good for you. In fact, I’m proud of you for wanting to better yourself.

BUT, here’s the other thing: if you want to make a change, do it for you. 

Now, I’m not sure what society has told you is “wrong” with you. Maybe your boobs are too big, or your butt is too flat, or you’re too tall or too short. Regardless, I know that society has taught you to care about what everyone else thinks, but for right now, I want you to throw away all that society has taught you to believe (as it deserves— and believe me, I know it’s easier said than done) and think about yourself and what YOU want, what YOUR goals are, how happy YOU are, and why or why not YOU are or aren’t happy. 

For me, it wasn’t my boobs or my butt or my height. Instead, it was always my weight, and when I say “always,” I mean always

As far back as I can remember, I wasn’t “skinny” compared to the other girls. When I was in elementary and middle school, skirts were a part of our uniforms, and as I saw other girls’ legs and compared them to mine, I remember wondering why their calves were as thin as my pinky while mine looked like the turkey legs at Disney World. Then, I got into my high school years, and I began to wonder why all of the other girls looked “good” in crop tops and I didn’t. However, despite observations like these, my worst memory is being at my junior prom, where most of the other girls looked thin and pretty in their mini-style dresses, but I could feel the tightness of the dress in my boobs and my fat oozing out of my back. 

All of this said, I always failed to see myself as “skinny.” I did the dieting and exercising countless times over the years, and yes, I lost a few pounds here and there, some times more than others. However, once I lost the weight, I thought I was invincible from gaining it back, and once I thought this, reality gave me a big “hello!” Also, I felt like I was doing it for others, especially society as a whole. So, I believe another reason I couldn’t keep my weight off was that I wasn’t doing it on my own terms. Though I wanted to lose weight, I felt like society wanted me to lose it more than I did. Essentially, because of these conceptions, loving my body and learning to love it were continuous challenges of mine. However, though I have not mastered those two things completely, I have improved significantly within the past year, and I couldn’t be more thankful. 

It was the middle of my senior year. I remember being so tired of feeling negative about myself because of my poor eating habits, and consequently, my weight. I was tired and found myself having pessimistic thoughts regarding my body. Soon, I realized I didn’t want to think of myself that way anymore, and from there, I concluded that I genuinely wanted to make a change for good this time around. That said, for once, the desire to change was solely from me, not society, and I believe this is what helped me in really working toward my goal. 

Again, not because society wanted me to— because I wanted to. Long story short, I started eating much healthier and genuinely taking care of myself. In the end, I lost forty pounds. I will not lie— since coming to college, I have gained some back. The late-night snacking and frequent stress-eating (a long-time struggle of mine) are my biggest enemies. There have been nights that two packs of goldfish, Pop-Tarts, Doritos, and more feel like the cure for my stress. However, despite these challenges, compared to where I have been my whole life in regards to my self-perception, I am much happier now than I have ever been. Again, there are still days where I struggle with my body and feel insecure because of the magazines, movies, billboards and my own battles. But then, I remember that the reason I came so far is only because I listened to myself on my own terms and not society. And, to be honest, that right there is one of the best things I ever did. Today, I do not stand a masterpiece, but I do stand a constant work in progress who is learning and reaching further every day. 

Beautiful, if you want to change for whatever reason it is, it’s okay. I just can’t stress enough that you do it for yourself and that you do it in a way that makes you happy. If you let society rule you, you’ll never get to where you want to be because, let’s face it, society is always changing what it wants. One day, it wants tall girls who aren’t too tall with long hair that’s not too long and the next it wants short girls who aren’t too short with curly hair that’s not too curly. Anyway, society is always changing what it wants, so my best advice is to figure out what YOU want so then YOU can stay true to YOU and work for YOU in the best way possible. To lose weight, I had to figure out that was what I wanted to do at the right moment. And because of that, I did it. 

If I’m being honest, society isn’t worth fretting over. The anxiety. The constant feelings of judgment. The confusion. The lack of self-love. The lack of happiness. It’s not worth it. None of it. However, if YOU want to fight for YOU, all power to you. YOU are worth fighting for. YOU are beautiful. YOU are lovely, loveable, and loved, and if society tells you differently, it’s wrong: so indescribably wrong. If you want to make a change, go for it, just make sure it’s for you. I know it’s all easier said than done, but if you stay true to YOU and take care of YOU, the world won’t knock you down in the end, no matter how hard it tries. 

 

Beautiful, remember that beautiful is what you are. And whatever you’re going to do, do it for YOU. Now, go kill it out there, you got this. 

 

Much love, 

Ellia