Finding Body Confidence
It was hard to title this ‘Finding my body confidence’. I’m not sure if we really, truly find anything. Like when people say ‘I’m trying to find myself.’ What the heck does that even mean? One day am I just going to wake up and say “Mel this is it. You are ‘x,y,&x’. Thats the story”? I don’t think so, sis. I’m not meant to be just be one thing in this life. I’m gonna keep ‘finding myself’ until I die, because everyday is a new opportunity to do so. I think I will keep ‘finding’ my body confidence till I die too. Why? Because our bodies are constantly changing. Just like who we are as people changes- our bodies change along with it. And sister, let me tell you that is A-OKAY.
Since I was young I followed along with diet magazines. I loved to read them. When I was 13 my favorite magazine was SHAPE. While I truly do believe the media is starting to change and there are more body types included in these magazines- this was NOT the case when I was 13. (BTW I’m 25 right now).
Let me also take a step back and tell you when the concept of poor body image entered into my life. It was after my second grade birthday party. I had a pool party. Well actually I had a pool party every year from Kindergarten till I was 16 I think? I digress, but when I was younger I wanted to be on stage. My birthday was certainly my shining moment. I did a hula dance with my two besties Kali and Macy. Needless to say we killed it. Ps- Our stage name was ‘The Chicks’.
My mom proudly hung up a picture of me from the hula dance on our fridge at home. I LOOVVEED that pic. I mean the bathing suit was on point, my hula skirt was flowing, flowers were in my curls, and the biggest smile was spread across my face.
Then one day a “friend” came over. She looked at my picture on the fridge and she said, “You have a big belly.” My heart sank. “Do I have a big belly?”, my third grade self questioned. Well I must because she said so. And that, my friends, is when it started.
I was overly critical of myself from a very young age. By middle school I was devouring “health” magazines. The cheap titles of “LOSE YOUR BELLY”, “HOW TO GET YOUR BEST BODY EVER”, “LONG SLENDER THIGHS” etc. drew me in. I was hooked. I knew how to count calories which I would use to plan out my breakfast, lunch, and dinner making sure to never go over 1600 cals. I wanted my mom to only buy ‘low fat’ options. I once threw a fiiiittttttt because she put 80% lean/ 20% fat ground beef in the marinara sauce. I thought there was too much fat in there and I COULD NOOOOOOTTTT eat that much fat. Thank you mother for still loving me after that one (and thank you for being the most supportive human and always telling me to love myself even though I didn’t know exactly what that meant)
No matter what I ate or how many sit-ups I did, I never felt good enough. I never felt skinny enough. You can see from the photo below that I was never fat. Infact as I look at that picture it’s honestly FREAKING INSANE to me that I ever thought I was ‘fat’. I was in great shape. It’s crazy what our minds can do if we let them.
My weight fluctuated here and there throughout high school and college. This was reflected in my sort of extreme ways of working out and eating. I never thought of eating as a way to nourish myself, but more as “I can’t eat that cookie I’m not going to the gym today” Or “I have ate too many cookies lets go get on the elliptical for an hour”. It was always a punishment.
In 2014 Aerie launched their no retouching campaign. A campaign with real women in it. One that celebrated every body type regardless of shape, color, or size. It was refreshing. I followed along with the campaign near the end of my college career more and more ( and still do to this day). It made me feel like for the first time I had a seat at the table. My stomach rolls are nothing to be ashamed of. The cellulite on my thighs does not define my worth.
I’m 25 now and would love to tell you that I’m some sort of wise sage on this topic, but everyday I’m still learning- still finding. Some days are harder than others in this department. We all have our demons, sister. It’s how you deal with them is what matters.
How am I dealing? Oh thank you so much for asking!
One thing I have committed to myself this year is to block out those stinky thoughts and if I start to think “UGH why do my thighs touch” or any nasty thing, I change it. I change it in my head to say, “Thank you legs for carrying me around all day today, I love you”. Yep, its cheesy and certainly corny, but it changes my thinking. “Ugh why are my stomach rolls showing?” Switch this one to “Holy freaking sh!t! my belly will carry a baby one day. A FREAKING HUMAN! Thank you stomach for being able to expand and give life to another person!”
Secondly, I’m trying out new workout classes. I used to think the only way to the perf bod was a 1000 squats and an hour of torture on the elliptical (ps. there is no such things as a “perf bod”). Nope ,this is not true. My goal is to try out a new workout class every month. THERE ARE SO MANY OUT THERE! My thinking behind this: “How do you know what you like if you haven’t even tried it” and also “How do you even know what your body can do if you haven’t tried it?!” In the past two months I have tried Pure Barre and Yoga on a consistent basis and holy sh!t, am I surprised at the things my body is doing?! Its giving me a whole new appreciation.
Lastly, eating what makes me feel my best and what I love. This also includes trying new things like cashew butter that literally tastes like cookie dough. 16 year old Mel would be horrified at the amount of fat I eat on a daily basis. BUT I FEEL GOOD DOING IT. I’m listening to my body. I’m eating to make myself feel like a queen and NOURISH my body, not to be a certain weight or fit into a certain size.
Please do not misinterpret this as a sad story or that I need pity or that I’m unhappy with myself. I’m not. I’m very happy! Remember I said we all have our demons? I’m choosing to share mine with you. I’m choosing to add to the conversation Aerie started with their campaign. A campaign that sparked a movement across all media to represent and celebrate all bodies!
Everyday I’m going to make a choice to find body confidence in myself. Are ya with me, girlfriend?
Keep going & good vibes,