I don’t love my body.
It still baffles me that feeling ugly hurts me more than feeling unintelligent or unaccomplished. Yesterday I sat in my room, staring at the dress I had bought for a formal this weekend, and told myself I hated it. I hated the way it clung to my body and I hated the main reason I had bought it: it was loose to hide any bloating or belly that may appear before the big night.
I told myself that I would be the ugliest girl there, and that I would never be beautiful. I let myself believe this. I have let myself believe this for months. I have done weeks of yoga and pushed myself to believe the self-love mantra that my teachers spoke at each class. I have written “You are enough” in my journal over and over again until my hand hurt. I have notes scattered around my room to remind me of my worth and my value.
I don’t know when it will ever be enough.
This is my ugly truth.
No matter how much self-love I have for myself, or how much I preach its importance, I may never fully love my body. I realized this this past summer, when I faced months of crippling anxiety.
I told myself that I would never be beautiful if I wasn’t thin. I told myself that if I weren’t running at least 20 miles a week, then I would never achieve beauty. I told myself to limit what I ate and make sure I burned it off later that day. I started yoga not because it was a beautiful practice but because I thought it would tone my body in a way that would make me beautiful.
I was miserable. I never felt good enough. My insecurity cut into my relationships and worsened my depression. I worried that I would be caught in this fight for the rest of my life.
It took months of therapy to work through these feelings. Truthfully, insecurity about my body is still a major topic during my appointments. I have to remind myself every morning that I am enough. But while I may not completely love my body, I now understand the reasons I had been so torn about it.
It was never my body.
Dissatisfaction with my body was simply me projecting negative feelings about myself onto something physical and tangible. It was easier to criticize myself for the way I looked in jeans than it was to acknowledge that I live with a high-functioning mental illness. I don’t love my body completely, but I am proud of the amazing things it allows me to do. It allows me to run half marathons and have dance-offs. It allows me to breathe and gives me a vessel in which I can live my best and most honest life. It provides the smile that I use to bring joy to others, and the brain I use to solve problems and debate life’s biggest questions.
I will criticize my body until I conquer my anxiety. For me, they are linked hand in hand. It was incredibly important for me to realize that after months of self-hatred. I pushed myself to the point where I had dropped 10 pounds and still thought I needed to lose more.
What does this mean for you?
There is so much on the internet right now that focuses on the importance of self-love. I agree that self-love is important. I also think it is important to acknowledge that sometimes you don’t feel love for yourself, and that is okay too. Sometimes you will feel ugly, or bloated or undesirable, and that is okay. I think it’s important to tell people that it is okay to not feel satisfied with yourself. I remember that when I was at my lowest, I hated myself even more because I had been told that my feelings were unacceptable. I shouldn’t be unhappy with my body. Not only was I ugly, but I was also wrong. I was constantly in conflict with how I was feeling and how I knew I was supposed to feel. I felt similar feelings during my latest bout of depression. I was tired of being told that I “had nothing to be unhappy about” or that I “should just cheer up” or that “others have it worse than you, be grateful.” I was sick and tired of only hearing one side. I was sick and tired of feeling wrong.
Self-love takes time.
It takes time and it takes a lot of practice. I am here to validate your low feelings, as I wish someone had validated mine. I wish someone had told me that self-love took practice instead of telling me to just feel self-love. I am here to tell you that while there are days I love myself, there are others when I don’t. It took me a while to see that and accept it. I accept myself, even on the days that I may not love myself. Strive for acceptance on the days that you can’t achieve love. It wasn’t until I accepted myself and my worth that I could work on self-love. Self-love takes time, and it takes baby steps. Do not get frustrated. Although there are days that I hate my body, I will always remember my worth. Understand your worth first, and love will slowly follow.
The light in me honors the light in you.