From a young age I’ve hated my body.
I’m five foot and curvy with a belly, so I don’t exactly fit today’s stereotypical beauty standard.
I’m no runway model, but I am still beautiful. And I know it’s not usually acceptable for a girl to call herself attractive, but I finally believe I am. So why shouldn’t I admit it?
Women are called vain, stuck up or self obsessed when they admit their own attractiveness. It’s almost immediately a turn off when a woman acknowledges her own beauty.
I’ve suffered from eating disorders and body dysmorphia since I was 10 years old. I’ve hated the way I look most of my life. I was bullied for my big eyes, buck teeth, height and weight all throughout school. Kids can be incredibly mean.
I grew up being told I was ugly and fat, and I believed it. Than I got braces, lost the weight and grew into myself, and suddenly people were nice to me. Boys who had bullied me throughout school were now suddenly asking me out. I started getting things for free. The popular girls liked me, and I was being invited to parties.
The world seemed to be opening up to me, and that’s when things got really bad. Because I believed that as long as I stayed skinny and pretty, life would be good. People would be nice to me and the world would be open to me.
Pretty privilege is real. I know what it’s like growing up being considered ugly, and then being considered pretty. And there is definitely a difference in the way people treat you. That belief that my appearance would determine how successful I would be in life led to obsession. And obsession led to starvation.
I tortured my body for years. Constantly counting calories, and exercising relentlessly. I would spend all day worrying about how I looked. I had to remain a size 6, no matter how hungry I was. My makeup had to be perfect. I would skip lectures at university if I had a spot, because I was terrified that people would suddenly treat me differently again if they saw me looking less than perfect.
I am now 23 years old and my body has changed. A lot. I’m no longer a size 6. I no longer have a flat stomach or a tiny waist. And I’m a size 10 with a muffin top and pooch. But I am still beautiful.
I’ve learnt to slowly undo the way my brain has been wired to view myself, and my worth. It’s taken me a few years but I’ve learnt I am worth more than the inches on my waist. And I am slowly learning to accept my body.
Some days are hard, I must admit. Some days I spend the whole day looking at myself in the mirror, analysing my body and wondering how I’ve “let myself go.”
It is hard to love yourself when you’ve been taught not to, but I am learning. I am learning to call myself beautiful, because I am. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.
You are beautiful.