I’ve been overweight my whole life. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been the “big girl.”
I never minded when I was younger. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me, and frankly, I didn’t notice. When you’re young, you don’t compare yourself to your friends. They are who they are and you are who you are and no deeper thought goes into it.
But somewhere along the line, other people noticed my size and pointed it out to me. I became an easy target. Something about me was different.
And somewhere along the line, I chose to believe them. I began to feel different. I felt less than and unworthy. I felt deeply ashamed of my body.
It began with the greatest lie our culture tells women: to be worthy, you must look this way, act this way, and do these things. It ended with me buying into it.
Here’s the truth as I know it: people will always judge. You can be deemed too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too ugly, too beautiful – it doesn’t matter what “it” is, because “it” will always exist and judging will always be human nature.
So what do you do when you’re confronted with this inevitable reality? You can choose one of three options:
- Fight back and direct your energy outward, believing others are the problem.
- Take on everyone else’s opinion as your own and rob yourself of the life you’re meant to live.
- Direct your energy inward, forgive those who judge you, rid yourself of bitterness, and fight back in the most powerful way possible: love yourself anyway.
We can expend our energy fighting, bickering and pointing out all the reasons why people are wrong to judge. We can also wilt away by believing society’s claim that we’re undeserving and use it as an excuse to not grasp our own power.
Or, we can deflect every perception by shattering it with our inner confidence. We can be fabulous. We can dare to succeed. We can choose to see the truth: that our bodies are ours and nobody else’s, and we have the right to love them just as they are.
The moment I realized that the problem was not how society perceived me, but rather it was how I perceived myself, everything changed.
I stopped viewing myself through everybody else’s eyes and began to view me through my own. I realized that I like my curves. I like having meat on my bones. I began to feel beautiful in my own skin. I began to understand that I am more than a body, and I am most attractive when I let my real self radiate through.
It’s true that we live in a society where women are constantly criticized for their appearance and the underlying belief is that a woman’s value is directly related to how she stacks up against cultural standards of beauty. But despite these very real societal pressures, women still have a choice.
Though somebody’s opinion can often bring up feelings of rejection and unworthiness, we can choose to understand that the most important relationship we’ll ever have is the relationship with ourselves. Knowing this will help us focus on self-love instead of relying on the acceptance of others.
While putting ourselves out there makes us even more vulnerable to judgment, we can push through our fears and choose to share our truth and unique beauty with the world anyway. Frankly, the world needs it. To hide it or be ashamed of it would defeat the purpose of our existence.
And when someone judges us, we can choose to forgive them. People’s judgments are never as personal as we think; rather, they are a reflection of their own inner turmoil.
Above all, even when we’re told that we’re not good enough, we can still choose to love ourselves. All cultural standards of beauty do is hide one of the greatest universal truths: we are all beautiful, we are all unique, and we are all worthy. It’s time that we began to acknowledge and celebrate it.