When I think of world peace, I do not think of a world free of pain, crime and hate. I instead envision a world united that can tackle these issues effectively and without war. Contentment is much the same. Being content does not mean I don’t have bad days. Instead, it means I am at a place of inner understand where I can deal with the emotions of life in a healthy, effective fashion.
I am not, for example, immune to short bouts of poor body image. I’m not sure if this is a human thing, a female thing or a TK thing. All I can tell you is that, despite the numbers of the scale and the sizes of my clothing, there are still days where I feel fat and ugly. Luckily for me, I have retained a habit from my high school days that always helps me overcome this slump.
One of the aspects of my childhood self that I have only now come to acknowledge is how wonderfully intelligent little TK was. All my turmoil, both inside and out, could have easily destroyed me. I could be walking the world today a bitter woman. And yet, I find myself to be a strong and confident 20-something living a happy life. How did I get from there to here?
My body was high on the list of things I hated about myself back in the day. It seems ridiculous that a 10-year-old, 12-year-old or even a 15-year-old should care so much about the shape of their body when they are still growing. Even so, I know young TK wasn’t alone in her self-hatred. We see young girls complain about their bodies all the time. I know grown women, decades older than I am, who still look at their bodies with disdain.
They say you can’t love someone until you learn to love ourselves. Can the same thing be said for attractiveness? If we don’t find ourselves to be attractive, how can we expect others to? We, as humans, are full of flaws. None of us look the same and chances are we all see something we would like to change about our bodies. It’s time we learned to let go of all that is wrong with us and embrace what is right. When it comes to my physical appearance, there is little about me that wasn’t made fun of at least once. You name it, I’ve probably been made fun of for it. Hell, I even had a girl examine my hands and then ask if I shaved them (is that a compliment on how smooth my hands are, or are you saying I should start shaving them? Almost 10 years later, I’m still confused). Combine that with all the messages young girls get, and it’s not surprise to know I had a poor opinion of my attractiveness. My savior in how I viewed my body came from an unexpected source: a magazine (I think it might have been Seventeen, but I’m not sure). They had an article discussing physical self-esteem with a unique suggestion: look at yourself naked.
They suggested looking at yourself in the mirror, with everything exposed, and focusing on the things that you thought were beautiful. Maybe this seems silly or embarrassing, but I thought it was worth a try. There were a lot of things I could have condemned looking at my body completely exposed, but that wasn’t the purpose of the exercise. I was to admire my beauty. What did I have that was attractive? What was I proud of?
This first day, the only things I chose to admire were the color of my eyes and the shade of my skin. I repeated this experiment over weeks and months. Eventually, I started to see other things. The shape of my body suddenly seemed more appealing and I wasn’t so quick to assume I was fat. I started to treat my body better, eat healthier and work out. This exercise in self-love didn’t fix everything, but it did make me feel a bit better about myself.
Older and wiser, I no longer feel constant apprehension towards my body. I like my shape and, given the opportunity, I would gladly turn down all forms of plastic surgery. There are still days where I feel fat, and on those days, I make sure to give myself a good hard look in the mirror. In addition, I’ve started to look at myself before I ever step on the scale. It gives me the opportunity to look myself in the eye, admire my body and remind myself how little that number really means.
Knowledge a belief don’t always correlate. You may know you are a healthy, beautiful human being without believing you are. I encourage each and every person reading this, if you ever have a moment where you feel bad about your body, find a private moment, look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of your beauty. Remember, no criticisms allowed.