I recall the burning of my thighs chafing as I ran the mile in middle school. I was out of breath, chubby, and utterly insecure about my body to the point where I felt like hiding instead of finishing the run. I would hide my body in the baggiest clothes I could find in order to seem invisible. Upon entering high school, my pants size dropped from a size 14 to a size 4 in a matter of 5 months. I would wake up each day at 5 a.m. in the morning to complete a cardio routine before I could feel content about leaving my house. My daily meals consisted of solely fruits rather than the pasta and sugary pastries I would typically consume. Instead of wanting to hide, I now wanted to wear short skirts and crop tops that I had felt uncomfortable wearing previously.
I felt that through changing my appearance that maybe I could become another person; I wanted to become the girl who could run the mile. Maybe if I could only see how my perception of myself was so influenced by how society’s portrayal of the ideal female body type, I would have allowed myself to embrace my natural body type. I look back now at the person I had become due to the weight loss and I cringe, as I had become obsessed with my body’s appearance above everything else in my life.
Now, as I write this article I stare down at my thighs. They spread out like pancake batter on a hot griddle yet they are strong and that makes them beautiful. My entire perception of my body began to change when I realized that beauty does not have a singular definition. There is no ideal beauty that one should seek to achieve for individuality is the true beauty of being a human being. It is your unique ideas, interests, and means of expressing yourself that makes you beautiful as a body is such a small aspect of a person. It would be a lie to tell you that I now always view myself in positive light; there are days where I don’t feel beautiful and that’s okay. I work hard to not allow those days where I am not feeling my best to impact me as I know in my heart that I deserve to feel confident in my own skin. My advice to anyone who stares at themselves in the mirror and feels dissatisfied is to instead of focusing on their outwardly appearance focus on their inner happiness. In the words of Zoe Kravitz, “Beauty is when you is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.”