Although I wrote on this topic in 2013 for (a now defunct) imagirl.ca, I think it’s body-positive message is just as important today. That’s why I am re-posting it here (with minor updates) for those of you who might be looking in the mirror thinking, “ugh!”
Show yourself some love and read the full article below!
Article by Jessica Barratt
Imagine: You and your best girlfriend are sitting in the bathroom, painting your toenails. You don’t have any real issues with your feet, but your friend blurts out in the middle of a paint stroke, “Ew! My index toe is sooooo loooong. I hate it!” Bam. Just like that, you’re looking at your own index toe. It is slightly longer than your big toe, but you weren’t aware that was even a problem. Suddenly, you’re conscious of something you were never conscious of before. Like Kady – who didn’t even know what nail beds were before the other Mean Girls mentioned them – you suddenly see yourself in a new (negative) light.
(Also, who the hell cares about TOES? They’re toes. They’re weird-looking by nature. Show me a picture of a ‘perfect’ set of toes. I dare you. What is a perfect set of toes, anyway? Who the heck decided that one? Actually, this tangent goes for any body part: Who has the last say in perfection?
Take it a step further: You and your new friend are sitting at a table for lunch. She begins complaining about how fat she is – at 140 pounds.
I’ve found two problems here: 1. Your friend has just (unknowingly) dissed over a quarter of the female population. 2. Suddenly, even though you were perfectly happy with your weight a moment ago, you’re suddenly aware (even if your friend isn’t) that maybe you aren’t good enough – for her standard, or for anyone’s. Downward spiral much?
Been there before? Yeah. Like any of the beautiful, strong and passionate women reading this blog, I ‘ve had my fair share of downward spirals: look at my hair, my weight, my height, my hands, my nose, my feet, my teeth . . . the list would go on. I would get consumed by it, the insecurities I could never escape or understand.
What’s worse? My insecurities were being reinforced on every side. Not just magazines, and television, and movies, no. By my friends. My family.
Thankfully, most of us are keen on these dangers; we catch them before they catch us. Yay! That’s progress.
Nevertheless, we still face a larger problem, one that many of us partake in unconsciously. Like I mentioned before: that scene in Mean Girls where three leading ladies stand in front of a mirror and pick themselves apart, noting their wide variety of ‘imperfections’. Why is it that Kady feels the need to jump in with her awful breath comment? Why does she feel pressured to partake in the routine self-deprecation that goes on behind locked bathroom doors?
Truth be told, we’re so used to hurting each other, we don’t even see it anymore. We’re so used to applying the standards we hate ourselves for not meeting as a measure for everyone else. We lob insults at ourselves, hurting everyone else in the process.
So what can we do? How do we stop it?
Everyone is different. My way (and it took me a long time), was to stop comparing and start complimenting. Every time I saw a body I wished I had, I would stop myself in my tracks and compliment them to myself instead. If I saw a face I didn’t like so much, I began to look closer, instead of looking away. Now, I can faithfully (without competitiveness) say that all of my friends are beautiful. Thank goodness!
What’s funny about that though, is that my mind got in a habit. When I saw bodies, I saw beauty. Soon, when I looked in the mirror, I was looking through the eyes of someone who loves bodies! And look at this one! This one’s cool because it’s MINE.
Still, there are those who aren’t ready to see it in themselves, and it can be difficult to navigate. I mean, many have gone their entire lives surrounded by these stigmas of what beauty is, just like me. How can we reverse the effects of ten, twenty, fifty years, while letting their self-discovery have all the room it needs to blossom?
As a friend once said to me, “As long as someone is beautiful in someone’s opinion, then they are beautiful.” Well, cheers to that. That’s where the notion of RADICAL SELF-LOVE comes in. It’s a term I found on a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful (did I mention life-changing?) website: www.fuckyeahbodypositivity.tumblr.com . If we can be beautiful in someone’s opinion, then why can’t that opinion be our own?
“As long as someone is beautiful in someone’s opinion, then they are beautiful.”
It takes a lot of work. It pushed me to tears to realize that maybe, just maybe, I was beautiful too. I read self-help books, and searched for positivity in every corner of my life. I learned to love myself in my very own way. And you know what? I am feeling the love!
Do you know what else? There’s enough of that love for all of us. So even if you don’t see it now, I already know you’re enough. More than enough. Better than enough! And the world is ready to see you for who you really are.
So take a step forward on your self-love journey. I’ll be right here behind you.