On any given morning, you can find me fresh out of the shower, staring at myself. My natural inclination is to pick apart all of the imperfections looking back at me, wishing for a magic pill that can fix them all at once.
In the midst of this disgruntled mess, I start a private freestyle of positive body affirmations and eventually end up doing a happy dance until my stomach hurts from laughing so hard. All of this in an effort to practice self-love and undo years of critical thoughts about my body.
People don't look at me and think of me as obese. In fact, I'm mostly doused with compliments and kind remarks from those around me. Yet psychologically, I am constantly struggling to be fully content with my weight.
At 118 lbs, I was too skinny for boys to like me. I had no shape and my butt was nonexistent. In high school, my "boyfriend" broke up with me for a girl with the body of a grown woman because she was fine. "You've got potential," he said. "Give it 'til your senior year, and I'd bet all the guys like you."
I ate everything in sight in hopes of getting thick enough to be desirable.
At 130 lbs, I decided to tone up a bit so I began working out like crazy. Months passed, and as I stood in the mirror proud of my progress, a friend pinched my lower stomach and said, "You're doing good! If you could just lose this, you'd be straight."
Her words left an impact that makes me disgusted by my stomach no matter how flat it gets.
At 175 lbs, people started reminding me that I needed to save "room to grow" as I got older. Family members said, "You look good, but don't gain another pound." Others asked if I was expecting or had something I needed to share with everyone. Regardless of my weight, I was always "too" something – too big, too small, too shapely, too pudgy, too something.
Every now and then, the memories feature on Facebook would offer me random glimpses of myself from previous years, and I remember seeing a picture from 2011. I remember thinking, "I can't believe I thought I was fat then." Next, I ran across a swimsuit picture from 2005 and thought, "I'd kill to have those abs again."
As I reminisced through photos, I found things I loved about my body at each stage in my life. I realized that I'd found fault in myself simply based on the perceptions of others. This fault turned into an obsessive cycle of self-criticism that was unhealthy to my mental state.
I found myself turning every conversation into an opportunity to talk about the things that were wrong with me. I realized that I was a hypocrite. I was always the girl who would walk into the room dishing out compliments to everyone else, meanwhile inwardly being mean to myself. Upon my newfound realization, I made the decision to love the skin I'm in no matter what.
The words of men, friends, and family made me feel captive in the body I was blessed with. I always found myself wanting to trade with someone else until those Facebook memories taught me that there is freedom in being me. At every stage of my weight, there was something to be thankful for and something to be proud of.
It's my own responsibility to esteem myself.
I'd given that power away each time I'd attempted a metamorphosis, or wished for a different body based on the actions of someone else. I decided to take my power back by making a conscious decision to see the best in me every day – denying my natural inclination to be critical of myself.
Bad habits die hard. Some days, I fail horribly but others, I knock it out of the park in terms of developing a positive self-image. Either way, I'm trying. And each day, I am learning a new level of self-love by being thankful for the present version of me. I haven't used a scale in a few months now. The number that pops up doesn't determine how I should view myself.
People will always have their opinions, but as for me, I plan to flourish regardless of how my weight ebbs and flows.
Whether you're 100 lbs or 300 lbs, love yourself girl or nobody else will. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, so make strides to be the best version of yourself. Just don't forget to enjoy the transformation along the way.