The thought of loving your own body is a concept that has always been foreign to me. I have grown up on the chunkier side of the tracks, so to speak, and it has been a struggle ever since I can remember.
Everything has been about weight in my life; whether it was teenage me wanting the trendiest skin-tight outfits or getting cut from my college volleyball team because I didn’t look “fit enough.” It’s a common thread in my family; we are predisposed to look this way. But no matter what, we always try to fight it.
In my short 21 years of life I have tried every fad diet and body image related gimmick out there. From herbal metabolism boosters, to appetite suppressants to working out excessively even to a pair of pants that were supposed to drop me down two dress sizes, I’ve tried it all. Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers; been there done that! The funniest part of it all is that even if something works for a given period of time, I always end up back where I started.
It’s only starting to hit me now, that maybe, just maybe, I’m beautiful the just the way I am, and this is how I was meant to be. This revelation is still in progress; I’m not totally there yet. So why the sudden inspiration? An amazing relationship with my boyfriend. We haven’t been dating for long, but my closest friends and I have noticed a change in me since we met. My previously non-existent self-confidence has improved by leaps and bounds. But it’s not one of those temporary senses of confidence that comes from someone telling you that you’re beautiful, sexy or what have you all of the time. It’s more revolutionary and radical. He thinks I’m beautiful, but his number one concern is making sure that I believe it as well. Rather than use my insecurities to gain a position of power in the relationship, he genuinely wants me to see myself as he sees me: sexy and empowered. I was reluctant at first; I always used to blush at and deny any physical compliments. But caring actions and kind words are starting to convince me.
I may not have the body of a swimsuit model, or even be considered “pretty enough” to be the subject of my friend’s photo-shoots, there still is a place for girls like me. I can be beautiful just the way I am! Not at size zero, or even at size ten. The people I want to surround myself with are the ones who recognize this unconditional beauty, respect it and are willing to help me find it within and despite myself. Finally, I am loved, respected and praised for my beauty, inside and out. And I am starting to love myself and recognize me as I truly am. Beautiful.