09 Apr “I’m No Angel” and That’s Okay
Photo: Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel Campaign
“Sono Bella”- Italian for I am Beautiful. When I got these words tattooed on the back of my neck three years ago, I had reached my lowest point. My marriage had just ended, and with that came the flood of insecurities. I wondered, “what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I make this marriage work?” “Was it my physical appearance? Maybe if I was skinnier and prettier it would’ve worked.” Fortunately with time, I realized what I looked like had nothing to do with the true issues in my marriage. Though I have to admit, that did not erase my feelings of self-hatred. You’d think things would be different since we live in a time where people and the media seem to be more accepting of the fact that women’s bodies come in different shapes and sizes. However, it appears that many of us still got a long way to go till we fully embrace the reality of what we’re working with. Let’s be honest, how many of us can truly say we feel comfortable in our own skin all of the time? Which of us can really say we wouldn’t want to alter something about our appearance? Not me. Whether it’s height, breast size, waistline, or hips, we are constantly looking to make some “improvements”. In fact, a survey conducted by Glamour in late 2014 proves just that. According to their findings, 54% of women ages 18-40 were unhappy with their body (that’s more than half!) and 80% of women admitted that just looking in the mirror makes them feel bad. How heartbreaking is that?! Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. According to the survey, men too, are unhappy with their body 33% of the time. The difference is that women internalize this on a deeper level than men. Case in point: Success at work is the leading cause of happiness for men, while weight loss still holds the number one spot for women.
I can’t say I’m surprised, since I, too, have been guilty of feeling like this. No matter what size I’ve been, I’ve always been unhappy. Even at my thinnest, I believed I could’ve weighed less. Sadly, I believed wholeheartedly that “you can never be too thin”, which I now know is totally insane and NOT true. In an effort to change this extremely distorted body image, I started forcing myself to see past the “imperfections” since many of the things I “see” (more like imagine), really aren’t there. I’ve also started being proactive and have taken steps to work on the things I can “improve” through exercise and a healthier lifestyle, while learning to embrace those things that cannot be changed. Don’t get me wrong it has NOT been easy and it continues to be a daily struggle. However, I’m slowly beginning to feel empowered and more confident with what I’ve been blessed with.
Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for embarking on this path on my own. The truth is that the one who inspired me to change my body image was my daughter since she’s beginning to notice how I view myself. She, who imitates my every word, including the ones I say out loud in front of the mirror when I’m feeling less than confident about what I see. She, the one who views me as flawless, and looks upon me with eyes of pure admiration. So much so, that she says she wants to “look like mommy”. I want her to grow up differently. I want her to grow up loving herself and her body. I want her to see the beauty that is already there without feeling like she has to compare herself to or compete with any image in a magazine, or on the web. I especially don’t want her body image tainted by mommy’s distorted views on beauty. But most importantly, I want her to know that her inner beauty is just as, if not more, important than what’s staring back at her when she stands in front of a mirror.
The next time you find yourself looking in the mirror and don’t like something you see, STOP yourself immediately, don’t allow the thought to linger, and replace it with a positive one (for me it’s a Bible verse). Because it’s about time that we all start doing something to truly love ourselves!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord i to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30