What Today’s Body Image Standards Taught This Woman, “My Body Is Disgusting”

not-good-enough

By Eden Mekonnen

As a kid in elementary school, I never really cared about my weight, body image, or my clothing style for that matter. I was very short, quiet and was good at staying under the radar. No one ever really talked about my body. And those years were a piece of cake compared to the start of middle school. I remember looking in the mirror with my cousin next to me, and I told her, “My body is disgusting.” And I meant it.

And her response will always stay with me. She asked me why? Why would you say that? For years, I never heard of body positivity or body love. I simply listened to what others told me and taught me about which bodies were beautiful and which weren’t. I wanted to have an hourglass figure like the girls I saw at school. I was jealous because I thought they were the ones that everyone found beautiful.

I was so afraid of people making fun of me that I hated wearing bathing suits. I had it in my head that I could hide my body. If I wore just the right shirt and tucked in my belly really well, no one would notice right? I would be safe. And my insecurity showed in my views of others as well. I couldn’t appreciate all bodies as beautiful if I couldn’t find my own beautiful. I was just as critical of others as I felt criticized myself. It was a toxic cycle.

There was one particular moment when I was approaching my later teens that I wore a tight fitting dress and I didn’t think anyone would notice but some people commented on how they didn’t think I had that big of a stomach. And I remember feeling so petrified. Even if they told me they thought I was still adorable, I felt so awful. A great friend of mine came to my rescue and told me I looked fine. It warmed my heart to see a fellow woman stand up for me.

body-positivity

That was the type of person I wanted to be. I wanted to tell myself I looked fine and that I was healthy and vibrant. I wanted to start believing it and be able to uplift the confidence of other girls who didn’t love their bodies. True progress in my body love journey didn’t show until I went to college. I started caring less about hiding my belly. If someone dared to say anything, I don’t think I would’ve cared. I was determined for a fresh start.

I wore clothes for my body type that made me feel good. I started appreciating my body for sustaining me. I regressed a bit after I gained weight due to many changes first year of college. I had to try to say something positive every moment I wanted to cry because my clothes didn’t fit me anymore or when all those negative thoughts came back and told me I wasn’t worthy.

I still feel insecure about my body image. However, I’m happy to say that I feel a lot more love for my body now than I ever have before. That love did not just come from my inner determination, it came from scrolling through many blogs that talked about body love. I read information that I never even thought of before. For a while, I thought it was a weird idea to just love the body I had instead of hating it until it miraculously changed.

I had a misconception about what body love was. Body love is uplifting and healing, it doesn’t promote anything unhealthy. I stopped thinking of it as weird and started thinking of it as magical and I so badly wanted to acquire this body love. It’s still a work in progress. Positive affirmations from many online sources help me daily. I have so many people to thank. Seeing images of confident full figured women brings me joy and gives me confidence to wear anything and feel beautiful in it. Representation matters so much and my journey helped me realize that.

Comments about my weight don’t affect me as negatively anymore, I find that I am able to combat them with words of love. I’ve chosen to forgive myself for succumbing to the idea that my body wasn’t good enough. Looking the ideal image is no longer important to me. I want to strive to be more confident and appreciate all body types for how magnificent they truly are!

 

eden-mekonnen

Eden Mekonnen is a sophomore at the University of Miami. She is originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Eden is passionate about giving back to her homeland and hopes to help many people that struggle with mental illnesses.

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