Do It For Yourself: Thoughts on Body Confidence

Picture this. You’re doing sit ups on the floor of your bedroom, sweat pouring down your face as if your life depends on it. You’re 8 minutes into the 10 Minute Alexis Ren Ab Workout wondering how she makes this look so easy. As soon as you finish the agonizing fitness video guide, you look in the mirror and heavily sigh at what you’re seeing. It is beyond frustrating that you’ve been consistently doing this for 3 weeks and still don’t look like Alexis herself, ignoring the fact that she (allegedly) had a rib removed to shrink her torso and suggests not eating fruit after 12 pm as a diet tip (It’s okay, I don’t get it either). You go lay on your bed and begin to scroll through Instagram, only to see that the cute guy that you have a crush on is liking pictures of other girls with tiny waists and perfect glutes. They definitely don’t look like they have a double chin when they lay down, and you quite literally have one as you’re looking at their post. You can’t help but be annoyed, and you Postmate a salad when all you really want is Taco Bell to heal your sorrows. Is this really what loving your body has to be like?

We’ve all been there. At some point in time, we can all identify with the girl that just wants to feel a little more confident in herself, so we stick to a workout and/or diet that promises to slim our thighs and get rid of our muffin tops. It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with putting in the work to get the body you want, as being proud of your body is something that’s really wonderful to experience. But, this poses the question: Are you doing it for yourself, or are you doing it for the praise from other people?

I started thinking about this a lot at the beginning of quarantine about a month ago. As a freshman in college, I had been having the time of my life. However, the “time of my life” included spontaneously ordering pizza after a long night out with friends 3 times per week, and being too tired or too busy with classes to go to the gym the next day to reverse that late night decision. Naturally, my body wasn’t physically at its peak, so I decided to do something about it. I’ve tried fitness kicks after going through rough health patches probably close to 100 times in the past 5 years, but I’ve never been really satisfied with my progress in the end. However, this past month has been different, and I think I finally figured out why.

To make a long story short, I decided to do it completely for myself. I looked in the mirror a month ago and decided that I wasn’t a fan of what I was seeing. There wasn’t any outside influence, nor anyone making demeaning comments about how my appearance looked different. If anything, my friends back at school diligently hyped me up anytime we got ready to go out (Girls supporting girls. Live by it. Never forget it). I was also doing my best to not look at pictures of other girls and longing to look like them, which I have definitely done an alarming amount of times in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I see celebrities or even just girls I know personally, and my jaw drops at their picture perfect bodies. But you know what? I’m not them. I don’t know their journey or story. No one really does.

Another thing that helped is the timing. We won’t always be trapped inside due to a pandemic (hopefully), so I guess you could say I got kind of lucky in a way. What I mean by that is I’m not seeing anyone – in person or on new social media. There’s been no consistent social pressure due to large social gatherings, or anyone to tell me that it looks like I’ve lost weight. Don’t get me wrong, I love a compliment, who doesn’t? But having to work out at home all by myself has taught me to be my own hype man, and to be proud of my own progress without anyone else’s input. I used to only come to terms with my confidence if someone commented something nice on a picture I posted or said something to my face, but there’s no one to really do that and it’s actually what I have needed all along. I’ve realized that it’s so important to ask yourself, “If you were confident with the work you had put into your body, but no one complimented you on it, would you still be happy with your progress?”

Bodies are complicated, yet beautiful, regardless of how they come. It’s hard to figure out what works for you, and it has to be a process of being patient and forgiving with yourself. At the end of day, do it for you, not for them. It’s a lot easier said than done, but I think it’s a really important, healthy, and empowering rule to live by. It shows when your confidence comes from within and isn’t completely dependent on validation. You glow, your head is a little higher, and you feel like ~that bitch~ without anyone telling you to. As you should.