MIND THE GAP
Meet Cara . One of my funniest, creative, and most outspoken friends since the 6th grade. I'm thankful I have her as a mind to bounce ideas off of; her honest opinion has saved me from embarrassment over the years. Be sure to check her out on her fabulous blog!
What was the first age that you went on a diet? Ten, fifteen, maybe in your twenties? The heart wrenching reality is that about sixty percent of women in the United States admitted to have been on a diet by the age of twelve. Now, you could argue it was for specific health reasons but most young girls diet to fit a specific body image —it’s insane. Media portrays whatever the “in” body is on all platforms. This display, though subtle in nature is extremely detrimental to how we look and feel about ourselves. Every couple of years there’s a new “in” or “sexy” way to look; OF COURSE IT'S NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP UP!
Women, and let’s not forget men, are constantly pressured to fit a certain image. If you’re reading this and thinking “yeah right, I’m fine with how I am” well good for you. But most likely you’re skimming this not thinking about the negative self-talk you have processed throughout the day. “Ugh, I’m gross” “can’t wear that I’ll look bad” “I need to start that diet today why did I eat that last night?” an arm tuck here and a suck-in there. We seldom take the time to look at ourselves in the mirror and thank our bodies. If I’ve learned anything it’s that gratitude is necessary in all parts of life. It's difficult to be thankful if you’re at battle with it. You will never truly achieve self-love or love your body if you’re never thankful for all that it does for you.
What I have noticed is that a lot of people are actually okay with their body. It’s when you bring in the external or perceived opinions that things get muddled. So often people say to me, “Cara, how are you so confident?” I would honestly beg to differ. I know my strengths but I also know my weaknesses. I’ve come to realize they’re not only asking because I don’t rag on my body, but also because I have always been a thicker girl with a daring attitude toward clothing. Being any healthy body type is fine, but the universal goal always screams “skinnier’. As college spring breaks would approach, there was always that daunting question of how everyone was gonna look in a bathing suit. Not for me, I’m easily 4-6 sizes bigger than my friends and yet I was one of the only people not complaining or worrying about what I looked like in a bathing suit. It physically pains me to hear how some women talk about their bodies. Don’t get me wrong I never want to look a mess, but at a very young age I learned that worrying about something you can’t change isn’t going to fix anything. So if you’re sitting there the morning of a pool day scared to go out in a bikini with your friends... accept it and let it go.
Accept it? Let it go?! How? WHY? Well, you can’t change how you look in that very instant and chances are you’re fine with yourself but are worried about how others may perceive you. What a waste to spend the whole day worrying about what someone you’ll never see again thinks! To top that off, our body shaming stigma is so high basically everyone around you is worried about how they look. In turn they’re not even really worried about you! If someone is shaming you, chances are they don’t like something about themselves and chose to deflect. When that’s the issue (in most cases it is) it’s not worth your energy to entertain. (Side note to ladies: about 80% of guys don’t really care and when they do they’re just worried about what the guy next to them will say and the cycle repeats trust me as the thicker biracial girl, I know.)
So much of how we think about ourselves comes from what we want others think of us. This is human and this is normal. What shouldn’t be normal is how much we shame ourselves as a result. You may think following fitness accounts displaying girls with abs is going to motivate you but when you look in the mirror an hour after scrolling and that’s not what you see, you shame yourself. It does not have to be this way and it all begins and ends with gratitude, positive self-talk, and an acceptance that our bodies are beautifully and uniquely our own. What is considered the mold of “sexy” will be in then out and back again. The constant factor in this is how you decide to treat your body and mind everyday. So I’ll leave you with this, the only thigh GAP you’ll ever need:
Gratitude: thank your body for being yours
Acceptance: come to terms that with every stretch, dimple, and roll there is a story to be told, growth that occurred, and love that was nourished
Positive self talk: give yourself a mantra to recite and you will affirm light into your life.
for every one bad thing you must say three good things there are always beautiful things to be celebrated
If you’re still down on your self-esteem watch this lighthearted video that reflects what I discussed in this post: