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It's Okay and It's Mine: Striving for Body Acceptance

My body has never been what I wanted it to be. There was always something to change about it but no matter how hard I tried, whether it was secretly exercising or changing my diet so that it included significantly less cheesecake, it always seemed to look disgusting to me. As a fat woman, I always feel less attractive than my thinner friends. No matter what I wore, I felt too big. It never seemed to be enough that the people who were important to me liked me as a person and how I looked. I didn't like me. Not one bit.

I would love to say that I have had a drastic turn around and love every inch of my body no matter how wobbly it is. It is an aspiration of mine to have some days where I feel insecure but most of the time, I am confident in my abilities and this is reflected in my outer appearance. That it is okay to look pretty if you want to and that it is okay to not look pretty if don't want to. Then again, I don't really think of myself as a very good liar and writing any of that legitimately would not be true.
All the work going into liking my appearance is gradual and will continue throughout my whole life. I don't believe that one day, I will wake up, love my body and that will be the end of it. It's irritating and exhausting constantly feeling like I'm not good enough in comparison with my peers but I intend to work on it.

This brings me onto my main issue with the body positivity movement; I feel guilty when I am not feeling positive about my appearance all the time. If I don't love myself then I feel like I've failed. The inspirational quote on Twitter didn't work so I can resign myself to a life of mediocrity and loneliness because "if you can't love yourself, how can you expect someone else to?". Firstly, this implies that everyone with low self-esteem will never experience any sort of love or affection which is just not true, and secondly, guilting people into liking themselves just does not seem healthy to me. It is true that confidence in one's self can come across as more friendly and inviting but because I lack said confidence in my pudgy stomach, I should give up on the idea of romantic love. It seems ludicrous to me and not a healthy way to think.

The phrase "body acceptance" has been more appealing to me recently than body positivity because it implies that as a person, accepting your body as flawed is important; it is not simply listing what is great about it. Finding beauty in yourself is definitely good for your self-esteem but acknowledging that your body does not have to be beautiful in order to be valuable is also good in promoted a balanced view of yourself. A body's whole purpose is to keep you alive. If people find your flesh sack filled with blood and bones attractive along the way, and one of those people just so happens to be yourself, then that's great.

I am a body and I am a brain. My outsides are there but that is not all I am. That is not all I want to be anyway. If there are days where I want to look pretty, then you bet I will try my hardest to do that and feel confident in the fact that I do. If there are days when all I keep telling myself is that I'm disgusting and unlovable because of how I look, I will work on being kinder to myself and slowly come to accept what I believe to be the ugly parts of me. Reminding myself of these things is difficult and takes a lot of time and energy.

No matter how how hard I work to transform the perception I have of myself, it is very easy to cling to this idea of the ideal "perfect" version of me, which always seems to revolve around being more outwardly beautiful, not more academically or creatively accomplished. I want to emphasise the dangers of perfection. By definition, it is not possible to be perfect. The archetype of beauty is deliberately fluctuating to make the audiences reading the magazines, looking at the photo sets and watching advertisements feel inadequate. Companies make money by starting trends that they know people will jump on because they feel insecure. They make money from unobtainable standards. You feel terrible about yourself and you buy things.

This is a very cynical way to look at the beauty industry and I do need to point out that experimenting with fashion and beauty products does not necessarily mean you are insecure. I do love the recent trend of people finding empowerment from make-up and clothes after years of using it to hide their insecurities. However you decide to look is completely up to you. I just think that everyone needs to be aware that the ideal human does not exist. We are all naturally imperfect.

I would like to end this by writing that it is okay to be insecure sometimes. Transformation and acceptance takes time to achieve but you have to be the one who takes the steps. Embrace the days where you feel confident and don't be shamed into feeling conceited for actually enjoying how you look. On the days where the sight of your own reflection makes you wince, it is important to try and make and active effort to be kinder to yourself. There will be days where you aren't particularly healthy and this doesn't make you a bad person. The body I own belongs to me and today it is okay. It is fine how it is.