As a teenager, I didn’t struggle with body image. I had my days, but generally speaking I was happy with how I looked. I didn’t need to impress people. I knew I was beautiful. That freed me up to spend time doing more important things.
I say this not as a point of pride, but to give a backdrop to contrast these last couple years. I can’t pinpoint a day or a time when things shifted. Body image may not have been something
I struggled with as a teenager. The battle, instead, came in my mid-20s.
My clothes started getting bigger…even as I got smaller. I stopped wearing make-up. My hair was always pulled back. I didn’t wear jewelry.
It went much deeper than what I was or wasn’t wearing. I was trying to make myself invisible. I didn’t want to be noticed. I hated my body for the way it looked. I was filled with shame.
As I’ve dealt with some of the root issues, things started to shift. It was almost imperceptible at first. I started to be able to make eye contact with people again. I would be able to stand with my shoulders back and chin up instead of with my arms crossed in front of me and my eyes staring at the floor.
I started wearing make-up again. (not all the time…I’ll never be a make-up every day kind of person). I went back to wearing clothes that fit me. I even bought a few fun summer dresses.
When people tell me I’m beautiful, I can smile and thank them. The instant recoil in my stomach and the overwhelming shame are non-existent. Also, when people tell me I’m beautiful, I believe them.
I can marvel at the beauty of a body that did exactly what it was supposed to during traumatic events — a body (and mind) that protected me. I am healthy. I have legs that can hold me during full days on my feet. My body is strong and resilient. That is a beautiful thing.
I have been able, once again, to see myself as beautiful. This has allowed me to see the beauty in others. Instead of putting the energy into hiding or finding my self-worth, I can be kind. I can take the time to see people around me. I don’t want a sense of my own beauty that leads to pride or to fear that one day it may disappear. I want to keep a beauty that is life-giving and leads to freedom.
(You can find the rest of my Write 31 Days series here)