You know, writing about my struggles for the rest of the world to read is not easy. Sometimes you feel vulnerable. Other times, you feel a knot in your stomach because you’re afraid of what others may think of you. Although I have gotten past the concerns of the dreaded “what others may think of you” phase, I do still sit and criticize what I think of myself.
I will be the first to admit that I am hard on myself. I have high expectations of myself, yet I have a hard time fulfilling them. Although I am all about self-love and body positivity, I still struggle to listen to my own advice. Sadly, I would rather help others than help myself sometimes. And with that, I start to put myself down while uplifting others. Lately, I have been feeling down, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am a human being with feelings. Sometimes, we let certain things get the best of us, and it’s up to us to overcome those challenges at our own pace.
Since I was in the 6th grade, I have struggled with my weight and my appearance. While other girls were developing, I was a late bloomer. And with that, I got made fun of…a lot.
Society, Will You Ever Give Up?
“Amina, you still didn’t get your boobs in?”
“Amina, you still didn’t get a period?”
“Amina, you still didn’t grow?”
Not that the status of my development should have concerned anyone other than myself, but apparently, it did. Due to those individuals who always left me feeling behind, I began to judge myself and criticize everything I did when it came to my appearance. From the 6th grade, until my senior year of high school, I struggled to accept my weight. My weight would fluctuate. What I was not realizing was that the weight I carried in middle school to high school was “normal”.
When I was about 17 or 18-years-old, I lost a significant amount of weight. It was not done in a healthy way either, but I lost about 25 to 30 pounds in just one month, weighing in at my lowest of 128 pounds. And even after losing so much weight, I still viewed myself as being heavy.
Shortly after getting married, days after my 19th birthday, I began to gain the weight back. I believe that a change in my life contributed to my weight gain. Being married and moving out of my parent’s house, to going to college full time at night, and working during the day played a massive role. After all those changes, a girl who once weighed 128 lbs, weighed in at 220 lbs.
It is hard to accept yourself for all that you are when you have struggled to accept yourself at your “best” as defined by society. Even at the 128 pound phase, I still saw a larger figure reflected in the mirror. You know, people who see me now can never figure out my weight. Although I am proportioned and my weight is “evenly distributed,” I cover the parts I am most insecure about.
People do not realize that I hear comments all the time. Some comments start off nice, and end with ignorance. A few examples of what people have said to me:
“Are you pregnant, or did you just get fat?”
“Oh, I remember you when you were skinny and tanner.”
“Yeah, you gained some serious weight, I remember you being a lot thinner.”
“You have such a pretty face, but your body doesn’t match it.”
“You have such a pretty face, you really should lose some weight.”
“You need to lose some weight. You don’t want your husband looking elsewhere because of your appearance.”
“Did you start a diet yet?”
“Do you know who needs to work out? Amina does… not you.”
“I remember when you were skinny… you looked good! What the hell happened?”
… and the list goes on.
Self-Love Isn’t Easy
Some people will never experience the feeling of looking at yourself in the mirror and truly disliking what you see. I always have to keep in my mind that I have a husband who loves me for me…not for my appearance, and that I should not put myself down for the opinions of other people.
I will be the first to say it is so hard to love yourself in a world filled with photoshop and constant editing. Will I ever look like those Instagram models? Will I ever be comfortable enough to show off my arms, legs, and other parts of my body? I doubt it, but my main goal is to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud to rock whatever body GOD has given me. To be able to confidently wear what I want, and feel beautiful in it.
This also goes for any factor that society has deemed beyond the realm of normal. Take acne as another example. We are so accustomed now to putting a filter over our photos, that people are unable to accept flaws because everyone is trying so hard to alter how they look! I will not deny that I use filters, but at the same time, I wish I didn’t feel the need to. I have flaws…some more than others. I have acne…which a lot of people have. And God knows we all possess pores! No one’s skin is perfect. IT’S OKAY, PEOPLE!
I will also be the first to admit to and embrace my STRETCH MARKS! Stretch marks do not discriminate in size. Thin people can get them, too! So stop bashing people and pointing out their stretch marks like it’s something new! And for the people who are “embarrassed” to be around individuals who have extra weight on them…shame on you! A person’s appearance should not change the way you interact with them. That person could be the best thing to ever happen to you but because of your ignorance and judging ways, you would lose the opportunity to have someone amazing in your life that may contribute a lot of good in it.
I’d like to end off by saying that although I struggle with accepting how I look sometimes, I will always accept that I am a work in progress. I aim to be the face and voice for women who have a hard time loving and accepting themselves because of the harsh words society uses when describing the plus size in them, and “flaws” in them. It isn’t anyone’s business how someone looks, feels, or expresses themselves. It is your choice to express who you are, unapologetically.
We, as a society, have a lot of work to do! A lot of self-doubts, eating disorders, depression, and many other negative situations could be avoided if society stopped insisting on labeling women a certain way in order to deem them “acceptable” and “attractive.”
WE ARE FREAKING ATTRACTIVE! WE ARE BEAUTIFUL! WE ARE WORTHY OF BEING LOVED! WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF LOVING OURSELVES, IF WE STOP GIVING A CRAP ABOUT WHAT OTHERS SAY AND JUST DO IT!