Finding Acceptance in My Body
Everyday I fight a battle within myself. It’s not just cheat days of burgers, chips, and something with lots of sugar. It’s in my own mind. For every time a voice in my head tells me the outfit I have on looks good on me, there are five trying to drown out the positivity. Now, there are two. Sometimes there are five, but I can bring it down to two. I don’t know if those voices ever go away, but I can at least prevent them from messing with my mentality. They know my body is a sensitive subject for me. (It probably is for a lot of people.) They know I’m trying and everyday is a struggle; saying no to fries, trying to lower my soda intake, controlling how much of something I decide to eat, trying not to eat an entirety of something homemade in hopes of having it the next day, eliminating the constant snacking. The list goes on. For every small victory I have, I have to fight to prevent myself from going down the rabbit hole of things I might have done wrong concerning my body. It still continues, but the battle has become easier than it was years ago.
When I was ten, my body would start on a path that would forever change. At age 22, the same statement still applies. I’ve been plump, heavy, fat, curvy, average, and everything in between. Now, I’m at a point in my life where I can confidently say, “I’m not fat.” While I may or may not hate myself after eating a bacon cheeseburger and fries, I know that one instance of eating fast and/or junk food doesn’t determine my body down the line; it’s up to me to be healthy.
At ten, the start of me becoming a woman, I didn’t know what my body was doing. Feeling scared and alone, I ate my feelings and would always use my appearance to make my friends feel better about themselves “feeling fat.” It became so commonplace for me to where I had a metaphorical script at the ready and could sense when they were going to prepare in self-hate. This would go on for years until I made friends who didn’t care about what size my jeans were, let alone care to ask. While my appearance was something that mattered to me, it was nice to not care about for a brief moment.
I didn’t really start not hating my body until college. Suddenly all of these bodies surrounded me literally and metaphorically. On top of worrying about my grades and who I would get as a roommate, there was the dreaded “Freshman 15” or “Freshman 30.” Though a quick search through the web made it out to be a myth, I didn’t want to add onto the widely believed myth. I went from constantly surviving on the pizza to living off of salad. Neither made me happy. I could still enjoy pizza every now and again. Luckily working in the school’s cafeteria helped to curb a lot of my cravings.
My body was something I wanted to take charge of once entering college. I took gym classes nearly every semester, joined our intramural frisbee team, took part in Quidditch in the Harry Potter Club, walked everywhere, and often lived in dorms and campus apartments at least on the second floor. It did help a little, but I knew these things weren’t miracle cures. There’s no such thing as one. The only one I know is my soon-to-be husband.
When he looks at me, he doesn’t see fat. He sees someone who’s beautiful, smart, funny, a foodie, accomplished, and more. He never lets me say anything negative about myself, especially when it comes to my body. There have been many times where he’ll place a finger over my lips to stop me or kiss me. He’s made me look at my body and has gotten me to a point where I’m close to calling my body beautiful. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to say three years ago. I can’t remember a time in my life, young child to young adult, where I could say “I am (My body is) beautiful” truthfully.
Like my friends and the times, my body changes. Clothes fit me differently, and often times it’s a good thing. I’ve gone from a size twelve and fourteen to a ten to an eight in most sizes. Even then, the clothing industry’s sizing criteria isn’t created equal. I continue fighting another voice in my head about my size determining my level of fatness or if it means I’m just the average body type. It’s normally the second one. I know my body has fat on it. Some parts have more fat than others, but this doesn’t equate to me being fat.
I want it to be known that I’m not saying that it should be up to others to determine your worth based on your appearance. All I’m saying is that you know your worth, and all I can strive to be is happy and healthy. I’m sure that’s what everyone wants to be. It doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to improve myself. I know I can be better, but I won’t let anyone think they’re entitled to reduce the accomplishments I have made.
If you want to take anything from me, it’s this: don’t let your voices keep you from having the body you want. One that’s beautiful and allows you to accomplish your dreams. I did for years, and I still fight the battle to take back the time I lost.
Written by an Empowerteen Creative Writer Student Intern:
Idalis Nieves (2018 Linfield College Graduate, Creative Writing Major)
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