The Difficulty of Developing Good Body Image

I was raised in a household where my mother constantly criticized herself— she still does. She called herself fat, more accurately, she said she looked like a “fat pig” almost on a daily basis. She wasn’t; she was fit, she still is. But she never called my sisters (I have three) or me fat. She reserved this harsh criticism for herself. I would listen and disagree. This behavior she engaged in didn’t affect me negatively until I turned sixteen. Everything changed when I turned sixteen. I started paying attention to these remarks (they were ongoing) and then I started to do the same thing myself. “I’m fat,” “I’m a fat pig,” I would say. And history repeats itself and then an eating disorder that consumed about two years of my life. But—I learned that I shouldn’t live by other people’s words. Even when people remark that I look “good,” or “skinny,” or “fit” I’ve learned to take it not so seriously because there are times when I can’t keep it up and sometimes, like everybody else who likes food and enjoys it and decides to indulge, sometimes I “stray off the path”—whatever the hell that means—and I gain weight. What happens is people are unforgiving; they notice and they will comment or give you “that look.”

Now here’s where it gets confusing: too skinny and people will make you feel like shit, too overweight and people will make you feel like shit, just right and somehow someone manages to make you feel like shit too. So how does a person develop a good self-esteem when they’re constantly being told that they’re not good enough, that they’re not quite there yet, that they’re just not right no matter how hard you they try. The difficulty of developing good body image is ignoring what other people think and listening to your body. How do you feel? How do you think you look? And just own it. Just own it without paying attention to the harsh criticism that is rampant in our society. Because in the end, it’s your body. Your body does not belong to them, it belongs to you. So forget the media, forget people and their remarks. If you feel good, what does it matter if you have an ass or wide hips? What matters is that you’ve learned to be your own person, you’ve stopped letting people control your thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard— sometimes you want to succumb to the self-destructive behavior. But just remember: everybody has demons they’re dealing (or not dealing) with. And those remarks that bothered you probably bothered the person saying them at some point of their life. We mimic our behavior. We mimic what we say. That’s why we must be careful and put out goodness and positivity. That’s why today we have to say that we love ourselves and that’s the only thing that matters—besides, of course, teaching others to love themselves as well.

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