A Persepctive on Body Acceptance

Many of us fall victim to self criticism. We fain over Instagram swim suit models, we spend hours talking about exercising and eating healthier and we compare our appearances to those around us. If you have never fallen into these traps that are constantly perpetuated by superficiality, bravo! If you have stumbled a few times, don’t worry, you are not alone.

In correspondence with national Eating Disorder Week, Northwestern University has identified the week of February 15th as Body Acceptance Week. Body Affirmation Stations have been set up on central locations on campus in order to poster a community where confidence is valued.

I went to the same school my entire life, from preschool to senior year. As a small Catholic school “lifer,” as we liked to identify ourselves, I had waves of anxiety coming to Northwestern. Would I be able to thrive in a place I did not know? If college has taught me one thing, it is that confidence in one’s own skin is the only way to thrive.

I am grateful for my body acceptance. I try to eat healthy, I exercise and I (sometimes) get enough sleep. But most importantly, I prioritize my mental wellness by accepting my own unique shape. I avoid spending hours in front of the mirror before class and I refrain from limiting myself by focusing too much on my outward appearance. I make efforts to compliment my friends. By boosting others’ self-esteem, we create a positive loop of acceptance and compassion. More often than not, I have found that by hoisting others up, I become the unexpected recipient of love. Recently, I came to a simple conclusion: it is trivial to waste time and energy on criticism. Why waste 5 minutes regretting the Sargent cookie you snagged, when you could spend 5 minutes reading a funny Buzzfeed article or chatting with your neighbor?

Like many things, the first step to change in ourselves, and in our culture, is acceptance. We must accept our imperfections and the things that we cannot change. We must understand that the depth of our character is far more important then the size of our thigh gap. We must acknowledge that a community based on positive acceptance will create an environment where individuals of all shapes and sizes can truly grow.