“As I stood in the mirror at age 14, I didn’t like what was looking back at me. I was surrounded by other girls my age who were beautifully slender, with legs up to their neck and no lumps and bumps in unflattering places. I used to get changed in P.E. and look at all the other girls around me, realizing I was a bit of a sore thumb. My hips were wider, my legs were thicker, and my stomach had a bit of ‘flab’ to it. I was unhappy, unhappy I didn’t look like the rest of these girls around me. I had grown breasts at the age of 11 and was already in a C cup by the time I turned 12. My body wasn’t a temple and I definitely didn’t treat it like one.
I’ve suffered from a bad body image for as long as I could remember. I wanted to shave my legs as early as I possibly could because I didn’t want to have legs that looked like cousin IT. I wanted to wear more makeup to hide the bags under my eyes and the creasing of the skin around my eyes and mouth. Now I’ve realized that makeup is to accentuate my features–it’s not a bloody miracle worker! My point is, I had never liked me and I always wanted to change me.
I had a boyfriend in my teenage years and when it came to being naked in front of him, it was something I just couldn’t bear. I would ignore all mirrors, wear baggy t-shirts during sex, and he wasn’t allowed to see my boobs without a bra–I had forbidden that! My breasts seem to be quite a permanent feature during this story so I will be completely honest. I am 21 with G cup breasts. They have a lot of weight to them and gravity is REALLY doing its thing for these bad boys. I would see all of the magazines at the top of the shelf (the x-rated shelf) at shops and see these huge, perky breasts with perfect boob-to-nipple ratio. I would envy the woman on the cover. Little did I know, they were made to look like that. They were surgically enhanced and created to be ‘perfect.’
Having a bigger chest, you’re always told by parents and grandparents not to put them on show. It’s undignified and ‘attracting the wrong attention.’ I really hope none of them look on my Instagram now because they’d have QUITE a shock! I was always told to dress for my figure, forever hearing other women and girls around me–whom I knew were uncomfortable in their own skin–putting down other women in the magazines. ‘Look at what she’s done to her face, too much Botox! Look at her stomach in that dress, it looks awful. She has such a pretty face, she’d be gorgeous if she could just lose a couple of stone.’ I’ve heard it in coffee shops and people gossiping about it with their friends. I’ve seen it in supermarkets, people opening up HELLO! and stating how much weight this celebrity has put on. I just started to realize that it’s not okay to be that way. My generation, especially, has been raised in a world where we should feel like being slender is better, having beautifully smooth skin is the way forward, being a bit chubbier makes you undesirable, and having spots makes you unattractive.
As humans, I don’t know why we have learned to pick apart every part of ourselves until we hate looking in the mirror. I don’t think there is anybody out there, all genders included, who can say they are truly happy within themselves. I think I have the secret to looking at yourself in a positive light and I’m going to share that with you.
Stand in the mirror, naked. No matter how painful it feels to look at the reflection staring back at you. Trace every feature you have with your eyes and touch the parts of your body you’re unhappy with. I’d hold my breasts, one large dumpling in each hand, and I’d take myself off into a thought of ‘who would I be without these?’
I think of the people who have had mastectomies. They have had one or both of their breasts removed. How do they feel, after going through something so scary, to hear me say, ‘I don’t like my breasts because they’re saggy with some stretch marks.’ Think of someone who has had their legs amputated. If they could, they would bite off someone’s hand for a pair of legs that look like yours, like mine even. Yes, they also have stretch marks and cellulite. Yes, the hair on them may grow more wildly than weeds in a garden, but they’re still a pair of legs. Try to look at what you have, not at what you don’t.
I spent a lot of time not loving who I was because society taught me not to. My ex-boyfriends would tell me that if I just lost a little bit of weight, I’d be ‘unreal.’ My family told me that if I could find the right outfit for what figure I have, I’d look great. But would that make me happy? I can tell you the answer is no.
You may have recently had a baby and have some baby weight left over. So what? You grew a human being! You nurtured, loved, and protected a human inside of you and you should wear those stretch marks and baby weight as a sign of achievement. You may have scars from an accident, from a trauma filled past, or from surgery–but you’re still here and you’ve survived. Wear them with pride! They’re your achievements. You wouldn’t hide an award, a medal or a trophy, would you?
I will wear what I want. I will eat whatever I like. I will dress in whatever style I please, whether it flatters MY figure or not. YOU are the owner of your body. You’re in control of what you put into it, what you put on it, and how you carry it. You get one body, one life. Do you want to be spending it looking in the mirror and getting upset about something you cannot change?
When you learn to love yourself, others will start to understand the beauty in how much you can get out of loving yourself. Do you have a dress in your wardrobe, a pair of shorts, or a skirt you’re too afraid to wear out of fear of judgment? Go and put it on, strut out to the shop, and tell yourself how incredible you look. It’s not arrogant. It’s inspiring. People may look, but I can promise you they’re not looking and judging. Even if they are, who are they to judge you? You are somebody who is going on a journey to love who they really are. ”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Millie Newman from Cotswalds, UK. You can follow their journey on Instagram and YouTube. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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