“Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done”- Rudy Francisco.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized just how important self-love truly is. I don’t know if I’ve ever gone into detail about some of my past experiences with body shaming and self-esteem, but I think it’s very important to share. Oftentimes you all see the glamorous aspects of my blog- i.e.the clothes, the hair, the makeup, and the accessories. While I love what I do and I love being able to channel my creativity into this blog, I think it’s also important for me to be raw and candid with you. Things aren’t always rainbows and sunflowers over here, and I go through some of the same struggles that I’m sure many of you all go through as well.
My journey to self-love has not been an easy one. I’ve dealt with body image issues for as long as I can remember, and although I’ve come to accept and love who I am, I still have my days. The first time I was ever called fat I was in 2nd grade. Mind you, a lot of my weight comes from genetics. The women on my dad’s side of the family are extremely curvy and always have been. Nevertheless, I was still called fat even though I was far from it. From that moment on, I had constant struggles with how I looked and the number on the scale. It’s sickening to think I was only 7 years old and I was stressing over my weight.
I was always bigger than a lot of the girls in my grade- not because I was unhealthy, but because everyone around me was just so thin. Looking back at photos of myself now, it makes me cry thinking that during those years I truly felt like I was “fat”. But because someone else told me that I was, it changed my entire perception of self. Because of comments made by other people, I was forever looking at myself like there was something wrong with me.
The worst of it was when I was in middle school. While I did make some great friends, let’s face it, kids are mean and at that age they’re extremely immature. Even to this day, I can never understand why my weight was their problem. Think about that for a second- other people are constantly body shaming you like they’re the ones who are being affected by it. Makes perfect sense right?
While I was never body shamed in high school, my self-esteem was so shot from the previous years that it didn’t matter what anyone said to me. I felt so insecure and had no sense of self that I would always beat people to the punch before they could say anything negative. Have you ever read the book or seen the movie The D.U.F.F? For those who don’t know, D.U.F.F stands for the designated ugly fat friend. Well, at that time that’s exactly how I felt no matter how untrue it might have been.
After graduating from high school, I made a vow to myself that I was going to practice more self-love and stop hating my body so much. I stopped using the word “fat” for my entire freshman year of college, and it did wonders for me. Since then, I have made a conscious effort not to degrade my body and start loving it. Now make no mistake, everyday is not always going to be that simple. Self-love is no easy feat and at times you’ll fall back into that depressed, self-loathing state. It’s a matter of waking up everyday, looking in the mirror, and telling yourself you’re beautiful, I love you, and no one is going to tell you otherwise.
Self-love is something that we need to be teaching young women as early as 7 years old. I was lucky enough to have grown up when social media wasn’t as big as it is today. My heart truly goes out to young girls who are having body image issues in today’s day and age. With social media being a prominent fixture in modern day society, women and girls are constantly being told what they need to look like, and what they can do to change themselves if they don’t fit the mold.
Instead of teaching young women what to hate about themselves, it’s up to us to start teaching them to embrace who they are. Obviously, I am not here to advocate for being unhealthy. A large part of self-love is taking care of yourself and giving your body the proper attention that it needs. That means eating foods that your body needs and making sure you’re getting the proper amount of exercise; however, we must also understand that women can be curvy and still be healthy. Remember- being healthy comes in all shapes and sizes whether you are a 00 or you’re a 14.
With all of this being said, I understand that simply waking up and making the decision to love yourself is not realistic for many people. If you feel you can’t do that, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. It doesn’t mean that you are unlovable or unfixable. I am always a huge advocate of talking to a therapist so that they can help you get on the right track. Self-love also means being in tune with your emotions. If you get to the point where you feel overwhelmed and that your emotions are getting the best of you, then therapy might be the way to go. There is such a negative stigma attached to seeing a therapist, when in all actuality it’s probably the best thing you can do for your physical, mental, and spiritual health.
I also think it’s really important for us to be examples to young women and girls. It’s 2017, which means we need to stop critiquing other women’s bodies. We need to stop commenting on whether or not someone has gained or lost weight. We need to stop making women feel like their only source of value and worth comes from how low or high a number is on a scale. We as women have a bad habit of criticizing one another, and it’s only making it okay for men to do the same thing. Ladies, we set the standard for how we want to be treated. If we’re constantly degrading one another, then who’s to say that men can’t do the same?
I’ll be honest, writing this blog post was very uncomfortable for me. Baring all of my insecurities for the internet to see makes me feel very uneasy- but I feel like it was necessary. As my mom has told me all my life, the most important relationship you’ll ever have in life- besides your relationship with God- is the relationship you have with yourself. She used to tell me this over and over when I was young, but at that time I allowed others to define who I was.
Now as a 21-year-old woman I can truly say that my journey to self-love has been both rocky and beautiful. I am now in a place where I love every single part of myself, and no one in the world is going to convince me otherwise. Are there things about myself I’d like to change- absolutely. Do I want to get in better shape so I can be healthier- absolutely. However, these changes will happen because I want them to, not because someone else is telling me that I need to.
I hope this lengthly post was helpful! I know I’m not alone in this struggle and women around the world are experiencing the same things as me. Have you ever struggled with body image issues, and what has your journey to self-love been like?