By Shannon Sweeny
I had just exited the shower stall trying to drape the ridiculously small towel over my body as I walked over to my gym locker. I carefully tried to open the locker without flashing everyone and as I turned around I saw a girl next to me. She was standing in front of the mirror pulling her shirt taught around her waist, staring at her figure and examining every bump and curve. She would tighten her shirt and then pull it down, trying to hide her body underneath, and all I wanted to say to her was “you are beautiful.”
As I stand in my towel, with my body hidden underneath, I thought to myself, I am so eager to tell this girl that she is beautiful, that her body is perfect the way that it is and that going to the gym is a victory in itself. But I would never be able to tell myself that. I looked down at our figures next to each other, she was probably 15-20 pounds larger than I was and I thought her body was beautiful but not my own. Why is it so easy to try and make someone else love herself but never that easy to look back and love yourself the same way?
I can share every Dove commercial on my Facebook page telling every girl to love the body that she was given and that she is beautiful, but I’ve realized how hypocritical I have been. I don’t even believe those things about myself. I am constantly judging my body, believing that my five dance rehearsals a week are not enough and that extra gym time is imperative. I can blame it on my obscenely athletic cross-fit doing, marathon running, paleo eating friends but it’s not just them, it’s me too. It’s the fact that it is easier for me to help other people than it is to help myself, and it’s really important that all of us change that.
Next time you see a girl that you want to make feel beautiful, look at the girl for whom you can make most of an impact: yourself. I’m not saying that this will happen overnight, it will be a long process for me to have positive body image and I’m not sure that I will reach that anytime soon. But using logic, if you believe the girl standing in the mirror examining her figure is beautiful, than you most likely are too. If everyone thought like that, there may not be any girls in the mirror that need to be told they are beautiful to believe it.
Shannon is a recent graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Political Communications with minors in Gender Studies and Dance. She has passion for the arts, human rights, non-profit work and progressive thinking. She now resides in New Hampshire and hopes to soon move back to the city she loves, Boston.