Learning to love yourself, whatever size or shape, means learning to ignore other people’s opinions and biases
Everyone has a type.
It’s normal to be attracted to different body types, different colored hair and so on. But when does it go from “you are not my type” to a completely rude and bully-like statement? How many of us have experienced shaming only because of the appearance of well, YOU?
I was raised in a culture where everyone would stare into my mouth (literally) while I was eating. Being a ten-year-old with chubby cheeks and baby fat was not an excuse either. Even an old childhood friend’s parent would make fun of me during car rides (“let’s hope she fits in the car”). At the age of twelve, my own family encouraged me to go on a liquid diet where I didn’t eat for an entire week, barely functioning at school and blacking out in gym class. At the age of fourteen, I was bullied at home and school because I couldn’t fit into a size two pair of jeans. As a result, I would eat once a day to try and conform to whatever seemed accepted at the time.
The thing was, I was not obese or unhealthy. I was a size medium in all my clothes, still growing and developing. Nonetheless, I was still shamed because I did not look like other girls in my circle who were more slender.
As I got older, I learned the hard way that starving myself to look a certain way just because social media and other’s said it was worthy, wasn’t healthy on any level.
I began to binge. I avoided mirrors, not because I didn’t want to see my body, but because I hated myself. I went through life pretending to be happy. I was never encouraged to do anything except pick myself apart. When others would complement my figure, I wouldn’t believe them. I lived with self-hate for years, self-sabotaging myself every chance I could. It was only until my late twenties that I began to understand (with help of self-exploration, other inspiring women and education) that self-love IS health and acceptance. At the age of 28, I was finally able to look in the mirror and say: “You are beautiful; let’s explore what health really is.”
NOTE: I am not here to shame thin females. Everyone is gorgeous; some are just born that way, and are healthy and its beautiful!
I realized that many people were lacking accurate knowledge about the connection between health and appearance when I decided to date again. I was set up on a blind date and after a few chats over the phone, we decided to meet up at a local coffee shop down the block from where I lived. After ordering coffee he asked me, “So what is your type?” I circled a finger around the top of my coffee cup and looked up at him. I began to speak, but I was rudely interrupted. With a confused look on his face, he drew his body back into the chair and said “I’m going to be honest, you are not my type.” I looked at him then smiled. “That’s totally fine” I said. I knew that sometimes, things just don’t workout within dating, but then he continued to get detailed. “It’s just, I like skinny women.” My facial expressions changed dramatically. He continued, “I don’t do the whole fat thing. Like, I feel a size zero, two is ideal, so you are too chubby for me to date. There’s no thigh gap and a size three is already not ideal. Why wouldn’t you want to be thinner?”
After the initial shock, I began to laugh and thought about throwing my hot sizzling coffee in his face (of course, I did not because I am a loving, nurturing and curvy woman who loves all mankind…even the mean kind). I could not believe I was hearing this, especially in a time where skinny models were being questioned about their overall health and emotional stability, and plus size models like Ashley Graham were just beginning to grace covers of high-end magazines, promoting positive body images around the world. I stood silent for a few seconds, gathered my composure and said while smiling: “Shame on you. I wish you luck with your future relationships. It’s because of people like you that others have such a hard time loving themselves” (insert minimal profanity where you like in that sentence).
My takeaways from that bad date: Don’t tremble at the thought of a new date or just general socializing just because someone is telling you that you won’t be accepted because of how you look. This idea runs deeper than just a number on a scale. I could have easily been ashamed after that date, but I chose not to form any negative judgments about myself.
You know why?
Because for years I dwelled in self-hatred. I thought that if I looked a certain way I would be able to love myself more.
It took so much effort and time to get to a place where I could simply agree to disagree with constant judgment and move forward. I decided to share my story and help others with self-acceptance on a larger scale because there are many women out there that DO give in to negativity and have not reached the point of self-love yet. They DO form eating disorders because they are teased. They DO stop eating because someone suggests they lose ten pounds for no apparent reason. They DO start to over-exercise and hurt their bodies. THEY DO.
No one should ever make you feel like you are not capable of being loved or accepted just because of the way you look: skinny, chubby, purple, orange, blue. Be brave and love the skin you are in. Never let anyone’s ignorance change the way you feel about yourself. Embrace who you are at this very moment. Healing within is a process, so never become discouraged. Do not conform to anyone’s expectations. Be YOU. Be Healthy and love yourself for the simple fact that no one else is you — and that is YOUR power. Begin with love. Let it radiate from within and into the world.
You may also enjoy reading Could You Love Your Body, Really? by Peggy Farah