I’m 28 and it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I truly learned to love myself. I know the topic of self love has been circling around for a while and you have women of all shapes and sizes starting to step into the spotlight (hellooo Ashley Graham). Even brands are adopting a less “photoshopped” look with Aerie spearheading their whole brand into promoting the self love movement. I mean I’m all for it, I love to see women with what society deems as “imperfections” on covers and ads.
I wish that growing up, this had been a thing. As a Mexican woman who grew up in a very Americanized city and I often felt the pressure to look a certain way. I was raised surrounded by media that told me that I wasn’t pretty, that I was too fat, too short, too tan. Everything I saw on magazines and on tv were beautiful white blonde girls with colored eyes (yup even in México!). I used to idolize Hilary Duff for her super 2000s style and straight blonde hair. I on the contrary was always awkwardly and fashionably impaired, with the frizziest dark brown hair, tan skin, braces, glasses and really bushy eyebrows. I always loved my hazel eyes because I felt it was close to having something that society deemed pretty, I felt like it was my redeeming quality.
Trying to Change Who You Are Won’t Make You Happy
It’s awful. The pressure on girls is awful. I never saw anyone that looked like me so I believed I wasn’t pretty, and I hated myself for it. I cannot tell you how many times I tried to change the way I looked. I used to ask the pretty girls with straight hair at my school what shampoo they used and then demanded my mother to buy it for me. Of course a shampoo does not change the DNA structure of your hair, but I prayed that it would anyway even though it never did. I would sleep with my hair in a bun slathered in conditioner and wrapped in a silk fabric praying that in the morning I would magically have straight hair, because according to an article in Seventeen magazine, it would, but it never did, it just ruined my sheets.
Because I have a tan olive skin, my elbows and knees are 1-2 shades deeper and it made me feel really self conscious. I used to think I was just dirty so I would scrub my skin raw thinking that my elbows would become lighter. I was 13, I was a kid, and I hated the way I look.
I also fell into the awful tiny eyebrow trend and over-plucked my brows to death, would hide my stomach with layers and layers of clothes and tried to dye my hair blonde. I mean looking back I was brutal with myself. I tried to change everything that made me, me. My parents always told me I was beautiful, and on the streets people would stop to compliment my eyes, but I just thought they were all lying. I never believed I was pretty, I just kept hating myself and hating the fact that no matter what I did, I still didn’t look like the girls in the magazines.
Everyone Wants What They Don’t Have
When I first moved to California, at 21, I realized that people wanted my skin and wavy hair. It was so surreal. I would see my roommates spray on the tanner and use a curling wand to achieve the perfect wave and I was GOBSMACKED… Why were they hiding their pearly white skin!? Why were they not proudly growing out their straight hair? I realized that they wanted what I had. It made me horribly sad, to see that even the type of girls I grew up idolizing were unhappy with their looks. I honestly have loved my skin ever since that day.
Its truly awful how no one is safe from horrible self-sabotaging thoughts. If you really think about it, in your own life, how many people compliment you? Now, how many times have you taken that compliment and actually heard it? How many times have you brushed it off and immediately replied with something that discourages that compliment? It’s this never ending cycle of negative thoughts and it needs to stop.
Choosing Self-Love Over Self-Judgement and Learning To Love Myself
I wear a size 4 up top and an 8 on the bottom because I have big hips. I used to judge myself every time I would skip the gym, eat one more slice of pizza, or try on a pair of yoga pants. I would just look at myself in the mirror of the changing room and see my big ol’ wide hips and judge. My face would crinkle up in disgust. One day I saw that face in the mirror and truly saw how I was putting myself down. The reflection in the mirror did not lie, I was being horrible to my self and my body. I was judging myself more than any stranger ever has or ever will. Now, I don’t know if you have ever been this mean to yourself, but if you have, I implore you to forgive yourself. I did, I had to.
All those years of judging myself for not looking a certain way were basically me feeding myself poison. I never bothered to see it as poison, I just demanded myself to look differently, I became angry for not looking like my weirdo expectations. It was toxic poison in the form of thoughts.
Today, I choose self-love over self-judgement. Every time I catch myself thinking those toxic thoughts, I change the narrative and instead tell myself, and my body, how beautiful I look that day. Because I am in control of my own thoughts, I can choose to judge myself, or love myself and it is a practice I have to do every single day, because guess what? Hating myself is boring and I want to be empowered.
All You Have is You, So Be Kind to Yourself
I wish I could go back in time and give my 13 year old self a hug. I wish I could tell myself that our skin is a gorgeous shade of olive and it represents our culture and it’s beautiful. I wish I could say that braces don’t last forever, that we will always be short but that’s ok, because we’re fun sized! But above all, I wish that I could tell myself not to hate, because hate is horrible in whatever shape or form.
What I’m trying to say is that all you have, is you. You should love yourself and your “imperfections”, you should stop letting the media tell you what is beautiful and decide for yourself that you ARE. In a world full of hate, it is important to change the narrative around ourselves and be kind. Choose kindness for yourself and you will be free from your self-imposed cage. You wanna wear a crop top? Wear one! Want to flaunt them thick legs? Do it! So what if I get a double chin when I laugh?! It just means I’m happy! Stop looking for happiness outside yourself, stop trying to change who you are and open your eyes. Truly see yourself and how strong you are. Because that is where your beauty is, and that’s how I learned to love my body, double chin and all!
I Am Beautiful
Say it until you believe it. Say it every day multiple times a day. Say it when you wake up, say it to yourself in the mirror, just say it. One of the things that I did to love my body was to verbally say ‘I’m Beautiful’, even if I didn’t really mean it that day. Even on my bad hair days, the day I got that giant pimple because of my period, when I felt bloated or was wearing no make-up and yoga pants, I still say it. Because words have power.
Look at yourself in the mirror and realize that you only get this ONE body, so you’re gonna wanna love it in all it’s messy, beautiful glory. So stop fighting it, because at the end of the day, a joyful life happens when you’re at peace in the now with yourself and you can’t really achieve that if you are focusing so much negative energy on the way you look.
I know it’s hard, but try. Try a little bit more every day, and before you know it, you’ll start to love your body.
So are you ready to love your body? Shout it out in the comments below, gorgeous!