Loving Yourself 101: Accepting Your Body
September 21, 2020
In the day and age of social media and celebrities setting lifestyle trends, it’s not difficult to hold yourself to an ideal standard. Our brains are constantly being manipulated; we feel the need to look a certain way as if our appearance is the only thing that defines our worth. Everyone feels like this. In fact, a study reported by Time Magazine and Cosmopolitan suggested that only 28% of men and 26% of women are satisfied with their appearance.
Listed below are some common insecurities Fruita Monument High School students have shared as well as some of my own.
1.) Acne: Acne is an extremely common occurrence. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reported up to 50 million Americans struggling with the skin condition each year. Even though the average individual will most likely deal with acne at one point in their life, we still feel the need to cover up and hide our skin since it is ‘flawed.’ “I feel like that’s what everyone looks at when they look at me,” says Mary Austin, an FMHS senior.
Automatically, she assumes that since it’s the first thing she notices when looking in the mirror, it will be the first thing others notice as well. Media once again distorts our views of beauty, as advertisements very rarely show models with everyday textured skin, but rather airbrushed clear skin. Beyond desirable, people will spend so much on acne clearing/preventing products just to reach that perfection. “Clear skin is what I want. I think it’s what’s normal, but it’s not,” Austin explains. You have to change your perspective on what ‘normal’ is. Truthfully, there is no normal. How you look IS normal.
2.) Hip Dips: These are the indents on the side of your hips right below your bone, which can be more prominent on some people than others. I am one of those people. Honestly, I never noticed these indentations until during quarantine, when I increased my time working out. Constantly, I saw posts and videos about how to get rid of hip dips and build more muscle to achieve an hourglass shape. Immediately, my mind went into freak-out mode: Why do I have these? This isn’t normal! Have other people noticed this and thought strangely of me? I began to research hip dips and eventually found that they aren’t anything I can control. My genetics determined how defined my hip bones were. Yet I still felt a bit concerned. Rounder hips were more desirable, right? But I realized, I was blessed with this body for a reason. I have to love it and treat it with respect. I should be grateful to have a healthy body that allows me to have a full life.
3.) Moles/Birthmarks: Most individuals have a birthmark or mole(s) that show up at one point in life or another. Often, we don’t like where these pop up, and they tend to have a negative connotation of being unattractive. These spots are simply excess skin cells with melanin, which makes them dark. For FMHS senior Alex Gilmore, weird looks aren’t the only concerns she has for her mark. “My mom actually thinks it’s cancerous, so I don’t like to look at it because I don’t want to think I have cancer. Plus other people notice it and always ask ‘what is that?’”
As much as we say that what other people think doesn’t affect us, sometimes comments slice through into your conscience. If we start celebrating our unique features, our insecurities will become our pride. For example, my grandmother changed my perspective on moles and markings. She always referred to them as ‘beauty marks.’ I think that helped me develop a strong sense of confidence which I would carry through the rest of my life.
4.) Cellulite: A harmless skin condition, cellulite creates little dimples, typically in the thighs. In recent years, cosmetic procedures such as lasering have been used to ‘improve appearance’. Another FMHS senior, Kylee Schadegg, opened up about her experience with cellulite. “I used to be really concerned with what people thought about what I looked like, but over the past year especially, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with myself.”
No matter how confident you are, sometimes negative thoughts creep in. “Honestly, sometimes when I look in the mirror I feel really disappointed, but I try really hard to focus on the things I like instead,” Kylee admitted. In order to love yourself, you have to accept yourself for who you are. Some small steps toward that confidence include highlighting parts of your body you like.
5.) Fat in unwanted areas: Sadly, weight is a sensitive topic. Medical institutions struggle to define ‘healthy’ weight and body fat percentage. But here’s the real definition that matters: you are healthiest when you’re happy, and your health isn’t being negatively affected by aspects that you can control. It’s all about balance. Senior Jack Williams, like many kids, wrestled with his weight. “I used to be a big kid and people would make fun of me.”
Jack was bullied from ages 6-10 about his weight. “I think that’s probably where I gained a lot of my confidence from – just by realizing that I don’t care what others think of me.” Jack learned to overcome harsh comments and became a lot more active in his teen years, increasing his well-being. “I shouldn’t have to wake up every morning being someone I’m not.”
6.) Leanness: On the other end of the spectrum, many people are insecure about being quite lean and skinny. America often idolizes women with curvy bodies and men with defined muscles. Growing up as an active dancer, this one hits home. Very skinny in middle school, people would call me names such as ‘anorexic.’ I craved to look a different way.
Similarly, student Luke Anderson dealt with the desire to change his appearance. “As a guy, there’s definitely a societal pressure to be strong, and I clearly don’t lift weights and don’t fit that mold.” These pressures have even affected how Luke chooses to dress. “I never wear sleeveless shirts in public and have a general self-consciousness.”
It’s hard to feel like yourself when you’re not comfortable in your body. But, we are not just our exteriors. If we can just release the heavy fear of judgement and simply be exactly who we want to be, courage will blossom. Luke has been able to use his strong personality traits to boost his assertiveness. “I focus on the areas of my life in which I’m excelling beyond physical form, like academics and socializing.”
While I struggle with minuscule details of my being, a shine of hope has helped me feel better about myself. I followed a few body positivity accounts on Instagram, especially those that focus on being healthy and sustaining your body type. Following handles on social media that give you positive feelings are extremely important. You can’t be comparing yourself to others. we’re so concerned about what other people think about us, that it can stem into how we think about ourselves. Phrases people say have the power to hurt us. They really do. But the ability to walk away and recognize your worth is one of the most powerful things in the world.