Embracing My Body

Andrea-Grass-Smiling-Summer-Long-Hair Photo : Alanna Bagladi

Like many women, I have had a lifetime of struggling to understand my body. Why it does the things it does, why it looks the way it does. So on and so forth, the struggle of self love is real, especially when you live in a society which perpetuates the importance of stereotypically perfect bodies at every turn. There are also non-societal pressures such as those coming from people who are supposed to be your support system:

“Why don’t you eat a salad?”

“You look like a 12 year old boy with short hair”

“You don’t need that piece of cake.”

“Seconds? Really?”

“Your hair looks crazy, you should straighten it”

“You’re going to wear that?”

“Why don’t you go to the gym?”

“Look at your pooch (pinches my stomach)”

“You look like a dude when you wear your hair like that”

These are all things I have heard and experienced from someone who was supposed to love and support me as I am. On a daily basis I heard at least one comment about how I needed to work out, or that the choices I was making with food were the wrong ones. This type of criticism seemed harmless to that person, a passing comment, a way to ‘help’ me. However instead of helping me, it forced me to really devalue myself and my body.

I’ve spent my entire adult life hating my body and not being comfortable with the way I look. I have refused to be without makeup around anyone but my immediate family and even then have felt uncomfortable. I don’t wear certain clothes and I have spent countless hours in front of a mirror in my underwear berating myself and pointing out all my flaws.

I spent a lot of time hating myself for no other reason than someone else’s comments and opinions. The past year has brought a lot of change for me though, I began to realize who I wanted to be and I know it’s not someone who hates herself. I want to love myself and embrace my body and my quirky look. I want to be able to go out for drinks and fried food without feeling absolutely guilty about it the entire time.

This idea of ‘self love’ is not an easy one. I still catch myself looking sadly at those spots of cellulite on my thighs or the way my stomach rolls when I bend over. Body issues are not limited to your weight, age, gender, sex, or ethnicity. These are things that I believe most women deal with in one way or another. I have begun to surround myself with people who love me for exactly who I am. I now have someone who tells me that I’m beautiful and that they love the way I look and will binge out on cookies in front of the TV with me and laugh about it. I have started to wear the clothing I want even vowing to wear crop tops this Summer (eek!). It’s about taking small steps towards loving myself and it begins with doing what I want. After all…

Colleen Rae : Artist. Writer. Feminist. Wizard.