Loving your body can be a lifelong struggle for some. YourTango shares the journey of how one woman was able to love herself.
It’s all about perspective.
I’ve struggled with my weight since I was about 12. One day| our maintenance man came over to fix a leak; I answered the door in a t-shirt and shorts| and the first thing he says to me is| “Wow Samantha| you’re gettin’ pretty fat there!”
Another time at a family reunion| a distant relative pulled a tray of cookies away from me when I tried to grab one| patted my stomach (I swear to GOD)| and said| “You used to be a little string bean! You look just as cute as you did| except now you’ve gotten much fatter!”
It began taking a toll on my self-esteem¡ªI starved myself for about 2 days before I almost passed out.
Was I surprised someone could say something hurtful like that? Not really. Kids bullied me all throughout elementary| middle and high school about my weight. I wasn’t obese| maybe just a little overweight/pudgy for my age.
In middle school| especially| random people from my school instant messaged me telling me I was fat| making fun of my hairy arms (thanks| Italian genes!)| and pointing out how stubby my legs were. I remember crying myself to sleep some nights asking a higher deity to PLEASE| CHANGE THE WAY I LOOK.
High school is a popularity contest and if you aren’t pretty or intelligent| you’re vulnerable to cruel words| particularly if you’re meek and quiet like I was. And it’s even harder when you’re the “fat friend” amongst your girlfriends who constantly had boyfriends (while I couldn’t catch their attention to save my life).
Because people always pointed out my weight throughout my life| I started believing there was something wrong with me on the inside| too. I was conditioned to think I was ugly on the outside| and the ugliness seeped through my skin| dripping onto my inner self.There’s no way anyone could love me| right? People bringing me down because of my weight started to feel normal.
I realize now that this definitely wasn’t normal.
It wasn’t until I went to college that everything turned around. Not only did people not give a sh*t about what others looked like| but they also didn’t care what others thought. Nobody pointed out my weight; they were all too concerned with their own sh*t to notice.
I adopted this same kind of thinking and gained a voice. First| it was an internal voice in my head reminding me of my worth as a person; my weight was irrelevant to my character. Soon| the voice grew outward| motivating me to defend| stand up for| and express myself to the people who brought me down for most of my life.
I remember one day standing naked in the mirror in my tiny dorm room| saying| “I have two arms| two legs| two feet| and the rest of my limbs. There is NOTHING wrong with me.” The wall I had up since the first time someone called me fat came crumbling down. That’s when I began to heal and truly love myself.
I regularly went to the gym at school and grew my confidence up from a seedling that sprouted when I moved away from my toxic hometown. I walked a lot and ate well. Being a hungry college student worked in my favor.
I ended up making lifelong friends who accepted me for who I was inside.
I flirted/made out with boys| danced at the bars on the weekends| and started to actually LIKE my body.
It wasn’t until this past summer that I wore a bikini for the first time since I was little. I’d been working out hard and maintaining a pretty awesome tan| so naturally| I wanted to show it all off. And you know what?
I felt amazing. I loved the way I looked!
I knew I still had some work to do on my tummy area but I didn’t give a sh*t what other people thought| and the fact that I was comfortable wearing a skimpy bikini made me feel great. People really didn’t care either way| I noticed.
Liking the way my body looked wasn’t an overnight process. It took years to feel comfortable in my own skin. I struggled every day to accept myself and it wasn’t easy or fun. I realized that loving your naked body begins with accepting who you are on the inside¡ªand then the rest will follow. You should ask| “What makes ME feel good?” not “What makes OTHER people feel good?”
I’m not a model.
I’m not a size 0.
I’m not perfect.
I know this because I’m not anything I don’t want to be or what others tell me I should be.
Remember| if you walk and talk with confidence| nothing that anyone says can bring you down. Once you start believing that you are beautiful inside and out| I promise you’ll start feeling amazing.
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