Looking in the mirror the other day, I thought to myself, “Hey there, you don’t look half bad!” Not giving my comment a second thought, I continued on with my day, but later on that evening, a similar thought occurred. Before heading into the kitchen to help out with dinner, I glanced at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, and momentarily wondered how my hair had miraculously stayed in place with the humidity of the day. While these thoughts may not mean anything to the unknowing viewer, they mean the world to me. See, I have never been able to look at my reflection in a mirror without pointing out flaws to myself. Not seeing the negative side of my appearance on this day was an utterly new concept to me.
Laying in bed after dinner that night, I contemplated the oddly satisfied feeling I was experiencing in my gut. Having just consumed a scrumptious meal of home-cooked green curry. My immediate instinct was to assume it was the delicious food and move on, but my brain was having trouble letting go of this reaction. Thinking back on the rest of my day, it suddenly hit me. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. Now this might seem like a misguided leap to conclusions to some of you, but it made perfect sense in my mind. All throughout that fateful day, I didn’t think a single negative thought about my appearance! While I might be coming off as self-obsessed and melodramatic, I am totally and utterly serious. It has taken me about twenty-one years to get to this point in my life, and it hasn’t been the easiest of paths.
I wouldn’t say that I have an unhealthy image of myself, but I definitely notice my flaws as much as any other person I know. All people go through their share of image insecurities, and I am definitely one of them. Especially in light of the media’s obsession with paper-thin models and actresses these days. Everyone rags on the media for encouraging society’s stereotypes of a so-called “perfect body”, and speaking from experience, it does have a huge impact on many people. From models and celebrities to magazines and advertisements, there has been a growing emphasis on losing weight and being skinny. I feel like American society has succumbed to the pressure of achieving the unattainable. Especially with the increasing popularity of Photoshop, photos have become progressively more unrealistic. I’ve seen models photoshopped to impossible proportions, actresses going to unhealthy measures to lose weight, and models developing eating disorders in order to stay thin. Sometimes I wonder what people see in this starved craze.
Many of the celebrities that people of all ages look up to have been photoshopped to look the way they do in magazines. Now I’m not discrediting everything some of these celebrities do to stay healthy and look good, but I am saying that most of what we see as “real” people is actually fake. Everyone has “flaws”, and I don’t see why we, as a society, can’t (or haven’t) embraced that. I mean “flaws” are what make us unique as human beings. If we were all “perfect”, wouldn’t that make this such a boring world? I believe our differences are what make each and every one of us unique as people, and without them, we would be some sort of creepy-clone-looking culture. What a scary thought.
While America does have a well documented issue with obesity, I also feel that we have developed a much less documented obsession with unhealthy gauntness. Not everyone has the same body type, so not everyone can achieve the same “ideal” body, no matter how much or how little we eat. This was (and is) an extremely foreign concept to me, and something that I have grappled with endlessly. It was definitely a huge struggle for me to realize and come to terms with the fact that I would never look like someone like Shakira, no matter what I did. Even plastic surgery wouldn’t be able to change something like that. As I’ve slowly come to accept this fact, I have been able to begin to feel more comfortable in my body, and I haven’t been trying to set goals that are physically impossible for me to accomplish. Although this may seem like a small feat to many, it was one of the many things holding me back from being comfortable in my own body.
Although I have had quite the challenge in overcoming my insecurities, I do have to say that this new-found self-esteem has been the best reward for my efforts. Being able to look into that mirror for the first time and finally appreciate the girl staring back is something that I never though was possible. I like the new me, and although we all have setbacks and obstacles to conquer, I know that in the end, if we put our minds to it, we will come out on top. Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.