The Beauty of our Reflection

Looking back at the past year, I have learned to accept my body as my best friend. Every day, we wake up and the first person we meet as we open our eyes is our reflection in the bathroom mirror. The messy hair, the exposed skin, and the figure filled with flaws that are only visible in our own two eyes. That’s how our day begins: with criticism of ourselves.

I wanted to share a little piece of my journey with self-love and body awareness. Growing up in an Asian ethnicity within a Latin American culture was one of the most impactful realizations I gained when recognizing my body. The Latin American image of a beautiful woman consists of confidence that resonates with the many curves around a woman’s shape. But, by having a curvy body, I was under constant criticism from my Asian roots. I was the subject of a cross-cultural beauty standard.

When my life at university began, I never expected my self-confidence to become the victim of the busy student schedule. Hours and hours of lecture times and the life of a working student can take a big toll on self-awareness. The past year, I was subjected to a constant pressure of making it through my class hours and maintaining a busy schedule. Hence, my mind began to drive away from keeping a focus on myself. My surroundings became my priority, and my body was no longer getting attention. What does all of this lead to?

We oftentimes do not realize that our bodies should come first. Amidst the busy schedules that we have to take on, we do not become conscious of what we are putting into our bodies, or what we are not.

Growing up, I lived with constant insecurity about the curves in my body that are not existent in the traditional Asian beauty standards. Moving to a country where I was surrounded by countless Asian communities, I forgot about the values that had been protecting me by living in a Latin culture that embraced my shape. Every morning when I had to face my biggest enemy in the reflection of my mirror, I chose to pinpoint every undesired corner of that person. I began to choose to look away…

On a normal day, I would wake up at nine o’clock in the morning and unconsciously go through my long hours of lecture. This meant that my mind began suppressing my body’s desire for food. My mind slowly began to reject the idea of being hungry. My body was taken over by the desires of my mind. My daily meals consisted of one small bowl of rice and vegetables a day. Gradually, my body began to become used to this new pattern.

Waking up every morning, I began to see the definition of my ribs along the side of my body and the flap of my arms slowly getting closer to my bones. My mind began convincing itself that my body was beginning to look closer to what I believed was the slim, beautiful look. So, I continued…

My bodyweight continued to lower, and my mind continued to convince itself that everything was going to be better. It was not. One of my friends confronted me about having the possibility of an eating problem. I did not want to accept it at first. It was not until I realized that every time I put food in my mouth, I could feel the skin on my face expanding. I would stop. I stopped eating.

One night, while getting ready to go to bed, I was standing in the bathroom looking at my reflection. The next thing I felt was my body giving up on me and my head slowly blacking out. My friend found me on the floor of the shower. I woke up seconds later laying on my bed with the worried expressions of my friends staring down at me.

This was when I realized. I was in constant denial of what my mind and body were going through. I had allowed the socio-cultural values to convince me to abide by certain beauty rules when I did not have to.

Today, every time I wake up and see my reflection in the mirror, I smile and the only thing that comes to my mind is that I am happy to be where I am today. I have learned that your mind will not always win over your body and that you are the only one that is responsible for providing for what it needs. Cultural views on beauty and body standards do not mean that we need to abide by them. Our self-love for our bodies is the number one priority that should come into our minds.

I wanted to share my story to raise awareness of the subtle issues that arise in every person’s mind. I wanted to reach out to anyone who is going through what I fight with every day and night. Every morning when you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and think of all the tiny aspects of yourself that are beautiful. I want you to admire the sparkle in your eyes, the freckles running through your face, the brightness in your smile, and every corner of your unique body. As young adults, we need to protect our own bodies and our minds because we are the only ones responsible for them.

 

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