Body image is a huge topic in today’s world. Everyone wants to look their best. In fact, many people obsess over looking good more than feeling good. I’ve seen all kinds of things online that promote dieting and unhealthy exercise habits. Things that foster self-degradation and encourage us to fight our bodies instead of respecting them. They tell us that we are not worthy to take up space. That our bodies are the enemy. That food is the enemy. That we need to learn to control our hunger. That shrinking will somehow make us happier. That our weight or our pants size is somehow a direct measure of our value as human beings.
I have to watch myself here to avoid hypocrisy. I used to buy into this stuff all the time, and honestly, sometimes it’s still hard not to buy into it. However, if I preach on this then I’ll be more inclined to practice it, so this is a good thing! 😉
I used to believe that body image was the primary source of confidence. I believed that I needed to look good before I could expect other people to like me. I mistakenly thought that every person I could ever meet would be shallow and judge me at face value. I now realize that that is an extremely arrogant and unfair notion. I was doing exactly what I didn’t want others to do—making judgments before getting to know the person.
One of the most significant things I have learned from my recovery process so far is the true meaning of self-confidence. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to base your confidence off of your body image. In fact, I think it’s better if you don’t. Can I honestly say that I love my body and my physical appearance? No. You’ve got to remember, this is a long process. I’m getting there. But I can’t wait for recovery to be complete before I start enjoying my life.
So I have learned to take the emphasis off of my appearance. I started focusing on my inner beauty and letting that shine through. At first it was really hard, but the results have been tremendous! I had to learn to accept myself for who I am. I starting finding little things about myself that I liked. I nurtured my good qualities and stopped focusing so much on the bad. It wasn’t long before other people began to like me, too. People were attracted to me—not in a romantic or superficial way, but in a charismatic way. I had found something about myself that was worthy of acceptance and it showed. Naturally, I became more approachable. I wasn’t the insecure girl sitting by herself anymore.
This built up my confidence even more! I was making friends, talking to strangers, even initiating conversations—something I used to never do. As I became more comfortable with myself and others, I started to let my guard down. I stopped trying so hard. And guess what I learned in all this? Nobody cares. People like me for me. My real friends aren’t going to snub me if I don’t look like a Pinterest model. People don’t demand perfection. When I learned this very important lesson, I discovered that true self-confidence doesn’t come from the outside. It is not dependent on the aesthetic. It comes from accepting yourself for the magnificent person you are inside. This has to happen before body image is even brought into question.
Hopefully one day I’ll be able to look in the mirror and like what I see. For now, I know that the most important thing is being able to look inside and love what I see. My wish is that other people struggling with body image will learn this, too. ❤
After all, the body is just a shell for the soul.