I want to talk about magazines for a second. Have you ever noticed how magazines, especially those targeted to women, want you to happy with yourself but also give you tips on losing pounds, perfecting your diet, and various other life tidbits? Magazines want women to be beautiful (Get Gorgeous in Only 5 Minutes!), slim & trim (Flat Tummy in 7 Days!), a sex kitten after hours, the big boss lady making a huge income, the chef who can whip up everything from souffles to 5 course meals, the best friend/girlfriend/daughter/mother/wife/sister (etc) EVER, the girl everyone turns to for her expert advice, the best party planner, and any other title they throw at you.
Um. And they wonder why girls are starting to go on diets, workout, lose weight, and self-hate at such a young age?
Come on. There is way too much pressure.
I struggled with body image all the time when I was younger, especially in high school where you are getting to know everyone and adjust to new routines all while trying to impress everyone. If I could tell my high school self one thing now: Stop pressuring yourself to be perfect and just love yourself. It’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes and simply be happy with what you see. However, it will help a tremendous amount if you at least ACCEPT who you are and take small steps to improving yourself. For me it was recognizing that I had (pardon my language), shitty eating habits and I didn’t exercise as much as I should have. From there, I began to move my body more and ate healthier. I signed up for dance classes. I started to run and lift hand-weights. I signed up for a spin class. I went to boot camp classes with my mom. It takes time to gain weight, so it takes time for it to come off. And you know what? I am proud of myself and the accomplishments I’ve made. I’ve kept off around 40 pounds since I started my journey almost 3 years ago. There’s no quick fix for weight loss or a magic pill you can take that will automatically make you fall in love with your body/who you are. It’s a life long journey & being healthy is a lifestyle change, not a DIET (which I’ll touch on below).
We are in a world where perfection is everywhere we go. We as consumers are bombarded with advertisements every step we take, or every website we visit. Words like diet have been so abused. No longer does it mean:
[dahy-it] Show IPA noun, verb, di·et·ed, di·et·ing, adjective
1. food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health: Milk is a wholesome article of diet.
Now the word diet is like a torture device. People have a cupcake and they think, “Ugh I have to go on a low carb diet. I need to start a diet.” To me the way the word diet is used now encourages deprivation and starvation and all those things that just hurt your body AND your self esteem. Note: Your body will not run on 800 calories (or whatever number) just because you decided it will.
I’m in the position now where I simply want to set a good example and be an inspiration for the people around me. I set challenges and goals for myself, because I want to ACHIEVE them & see what I can do and how far I can push myself. My sister is 16 years old, and I want to set a good example for her instead of all those airbrushed girls in magazines telling her to do this or do that to look this way or feel this way. What younger girls these days need are REAL WOMEN to look up to. Sure, celebrities are real, but how many times have you seen a completely untouched photograph of them with head lines saying, “CELEBRITY-X is stunning without make up!” Yeah, never. It just never happens. However, real inspiring women without make up DO happen and they DO exist. And they are beautiful and wonderful! That’s what young girls need more of.
I know I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be perfect, because that’s boring! Life is all about learning and growing and changing, otherwise we’d never evolve or make progress. I had a moment in the fitting room the other day while trying on jeans where I kept thinking, “Wow, my thighs look huge.” But then I stopped thinking that way, because these thighs are going to carry me through my first half marathon & many, MANY more races to come. My legs are muscular from all the miles, squats, lunges, etc. I have completed throughout my fitness journey. And you know what? They look GOOD! Good enough for me, anyway. And really, who do you need to impress but yourself? It’s your life. You only have one body, so you might as well love it! Life is way too short to be unhappy.
I challenge you to look in the mirror and say three positive things you like about your body. It’s about time we stop comparing ourselves to other people and focus on ourselves. What do you love about your body?