Happy Love Your Body Day! Celebrate by showing your body some extra TLC today and reading our collection of short essays about coming to terms with, and learning to love, one’s body, and the societal pressures that make it difficult (if not near impossible) for us to get there.
Our first post today comes from two interns who have written compassionate and vulnerable letters to their younger selves.
A letter to my younger self; RE: Body Image
Hindsight can either be really bad or really good. But in the moment, so-called crises usually feel more important than they actually are in the grand scheme of things. It’s hard to hear that when it comes to your body, though. Even if your body changes (which it will), it’s always going to be your body, and there are just some things that won’t change. So how are you supposed to get over the fact that you hate this or that when you’re stuck with it forever?
Well, I still don’t know, but I do know that one day you’ll be less worried about the things that you now obsess over. You’ll stop looking in every reflective surface you walk by, checking to see if your legs look bad or not; you’ll quit weighing yourself so much, and you’ll be less concerned about your body hair. Things about your body will change and some of them you won’t like, but some you will.
You’ll still insult yourself and hate taking pictures, but your supposed “body goals” will be a lot healthier than they are now. Some people will still criticize your body as if it’s up for debate, but other people will empower you to love it. You’ll even try to empower yourself to love it—sometimes, at least.
Looking back, I can’t believe how obsessed you are with your body now, but that’s how you’re being trained. Beyond Instagram and just … high school, you literally have grown men telling you to watch what you eat because Nutcracker is coming up. So, whatever crisis you’re having about your jeans size is completely valid, but it isn’t going to matter in a few years, and it shouldn’t matter now. Soon enough you’ll be right where I am now, wishing you spent less time worrying about your body when you were younger.
It’s not your fault though. Like I said, you have dance teachers, social media, high-schoolers, and TV shows telling you your body isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Whether explicitly or subliminally, you’re being taught to hate what’s natural while simultaneously being encouraged to self-objectify for the benefit of others. I know it feels like a lose-lose situation now, but I promise one day you’ll come to terms with some of the things you dislike so much about yourself now, and you’ll even end up liking some of them.
But the point isn’t that it’ll get better. The point is that you should love your body in all forms. It’s okay to have preferences and goals, but it’s not okay to hate the way your body looks because of outside influences. Again, it’s completely valid (unfortunately) because of the image-obsessed world we live in, but it’s not what you—or anyone—deserves.
Dear younger me,
I do not know what being young is like anymore. Thinking back to my childhood years is like looking through lens distorted by permanent scratches, smudges, and cracks. Like my mind, my body has aged with sunspots and scars painted across my skin. But of my memories from my earliest days in this world, I remember running and jumping and laughing and dancing without a care to how my body looked like.
Then middle school came and with it the growth spurt that comes naturally to every girl. I gained weight to fill up the curves on my body, and before I even knew how to spell “scoliosis”, my back warped to a degree to which the doctor almost recommended surgery. My teeth were corralled by what the dentist called “braces” and forced to conform to strict sections in my mouth. This toxicity under which my body was scrutinized and examined built up with every word from my mother on how I should eat less because I was getting fat.
But all that poison only killed the part of me that cares about what society wants me to look like. How can anyone completely fulfill the physical standards to which girls and women are held to? We are all subjected to the great lie that beauty is a virtue that could be achieved. However, the secret that children are not told until they are old enough is that failing at achieving beauty is the answer to the question “Why do I exist?” that every everyone, including you, ask themselves at night.
Although I have lost the ability to fully recall my youngest years living, I now understand that feeling of freedom that comes with childhood ignorance of the body and what it means to be looked at as only a body. Please be kind to yourself. There will come a day when you will love your body and all that it can do for you. Girlhood is hard, and womanhood even more so, but living is so much more than just existing in a body.
With all my love,