Summertime can be a very trying time for our self-confidence. The social media bombards us with images of women with slender legs and a tiny waist, and with pictures of men with broad shoulders and washboard abs. We see ads on TV for diet pills and expensive workout/diet plans, as well. We spend thousands of dollars a year, just trying to match up to the images we see. Some stores (that will remain unnamed) even try telling us that if we aren't a certain size or body shape, we don’t belong in their stores. All we see, every single day, are images of “the perfect body," -- small waists, flat tummies, slender legs, tiny hips, and perky breasts define the perfect woman; broad shoulders, washboard abs, and big muscles define the perfect man. This is hardly the norm for the average person, yet we seem to think that this is how we should look, and to look any different means there’s something wrong with us. Before we know it, we are on a crash diet to “lose those unwanted pounds before beach season,” or we're doing something crazy that could potentially harm our bodies. How do I know this? Well, I went through this.
I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t consider myself to be very large, but at a size 16, I’m considered “plus sized” in today’s fashion world, and you have no idea how much courage it took to tell you that! I have done some of the craziest things to try to get rid of the weight fast, before the summer beach weather came in – the craziest thing I’ve done was something called the “Apple Diet.” You would eat one apple for breakfast, two for lunch, and three for dinner. Nothing else. As you can imagine, this did not work, and I was just left hungry all the time. There was one thing that I did that was even worse than that diet; I starved myself. I would lie to my parents, saying, “Oh, I ate dinner already.” I would take my breakfast cereals and bagels to the local pond for the ducks, as well. Also, any time that I felt hungry, I would tell myself that "hunger was just a feeling that you got when the fat is leaving your body." It was a foolish thing to do, and I'm very lucky that someone saw what was going on and forced me to get help before I did some serious damage to my health. I have never been the same since, and even still, every time I look in the mirror, I see someone 3x my size. However, the point of this article is not to talk about my struggles; it's to help you find a way to learn to love yourself just the way you are. It's to help you learn to ignore the things that the media tries to tell us we should be.
Recently, there was a small article going around social media sites about a woman's response to a rather insensitive question: "This summer, would you rather be a mermaid, or a whale?" Her response stunned me: "Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness. They entertain like crazy with dolphins, and they eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places, like Patagonia, the Barents Sea, or the coral reefs of Polynesia. They sing incredibly well, and sometimes are even on CD's. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defends and admires. Mermaids do not exist; but if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personalities: woman or fish? They would have no sex life, and they could not bear children. Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad, as well. And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side? Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.”
She goes on to say that she would much rather enjoy her life with her friends and family than to constantly be concerned with her weight. She states that every time she looked in the mirror and saw her curves, she would tell herself “How amazing am I?” These words embodied the confidence that I needed to finally push back the thoughts of not having the perfect body. We, as people (not just women, but men, too), need to understand that WE are the ones that govern our looks; WE are the ones to decide how we feel about our appearance, and to let a commercial or ad in a magazine change our thoughts isn’t fair to ourselves. We don’t have to live up to what society thinks we should be. Always do what makes you happy, as long as it is nothing harmful to yourself. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have slender legs or washboard abs; you are YOU, and no one else can be you. You are a beautiful, handsome work of art -- treat yourself like it! Most importantly, love yourself for who you are.