A post like this is so hard to write. I actually had a completely different draft written and ready to go, but after such a strong response to M's personal admissions last week I took a second look and realized what I had written was just fluff. So I'm going to try and address this topic in a real and personal way.
I know that self image is kind of an over done topic, but there's clearly a reason that it never fades completely out of the spotlight. I'm guessing that reason is that virtually everyone struggles with the issue in some way.
I am no exception to this. In fact, I would suspect that I struggle with this issue more than those around me possibly imagine. Oh, I can put on a good face and pretend I think I'm awesome and beautiful, but under that surface I am full of insecurity and fear.
I worry that people don't really like me, or that they think I'm annoying or boring. I worry that sometimes I've been mean or rude when I really didn't intend to. I worry that I'm not actually good at anything, or simply just not good enough at all. And yes, as shallow as this is, I also worry that I'm not pretty enough or thin enough.
I've struggled with all of these fears and insecurities for most of my life. Over the years I've learned various ways to combat some of these worries. I remind myself that clearly some people like me, I mean I do have friends that happily make plans with me and even do special things out of the blue for me. I remind myself that everyone has off days where they might come across as gruff. And I tell myself that as long as I enjoy whatever activity or hobby I am engaged in, it doesn't matter how good the end product actually is, and that I am probably my harshest critic. The physical stuff though, that's a lot tougher for me to logically overcome.
Here's a confession when it comes to my body, I can honestly say that I have no true concept of my size. Sure I know what size to buy when I shop for clothes because I simply buy a number. If you stood me next to another woman, though, I honestly could not tell you if she were my size, smaller, or bigger than me. I could make an educated guess, but that educated guess is not the same as actually knowing. This realization scares me. This means that I have lost my ability to objectively view my body.
I could sit here and complain that the media is to blame because of it's unrealistic portrayal of beauty and women's bodies. And that may or may not be true, but blaming the media won't help me in the here and now. What I actually need to do is to change the way I think about my body and learn to accept myself. I need to stop comparing myself to others, and start just focusing on me and what makes my body feel good.
I have been working on confronting this problem for some time, and I have finally taken the first step on this journey for physical self acceptance: I no longer weigh myself everyday. In fact, as of my writing this post, I probably have not weighed myself for 4 weeks. Stepping off the scale has created a wonderful sense of freedom and empowerment.
I am no longer held hostage by a number. I am focusing more on being healthy and fit, and how I actually feel. I'm paying attention to the fit of my clothes, and trying to only eat when hungry (which admittedly is easier said than done). Most importantly, though, I'm also learning to forgive myself when I screw up and skip a work out, or eat a second helping. Getting angry with myself and dwelling on a misstep only holds me back and typically leads to a downward spiral of giving up and telling myself I just don't care. Now I'm trying to acknowledge the mistake, but not let that one mistake determine my future actions.
The road to full self acceptance is long, as I've mentioned I've already been walking it for a quite some time. This struggle very well could continue for most of the rest of my life, but I think admitting this is actually a positive and necessary step to taking control of the situation and facing it head on. I am now committed to focusing on myself and working to create a more positive self image. Most importantly, I believe I can succeed.
Perhaps, if everyone facing a similar internal struggle takes the initiative to fight back and to learn to love and accept yourself as you are, we can create a world where our future daughters will learn to love themselves like their mothers and our future sons will learn to love a woman's confidence rather than her size, and the media won't matter at all.
What self image struggles do you face? How have you overcome a negative self image?