There are things that I can control, and then there are things that I cannot. In most parts of life there is a gray area, but in this situation, it is one or the other. And when I am told that my stature is considered ‘plus size’ or ‘obese’ despite doing everything in my power to combat these labels, I am suddenly being required to control the uncontrollable.
The obesity vs. body shaming debate has been a very exhausted topic recently, and I’m definitely not going to say that the millions of unhealthy Americans who are leading unacceptable lifestyles for their body are victims to the labels, because they aren’t. I’m talking about girls like me. Teenage girls who participate in intense exercise two to three hours every day. Girls who follow well-formulated diets that cut out any detrimental parts of their eating habits. Happy, healthy teenagers, who lead extremely healthy lives. And for some reason, these are the people feeling the largest blow from these labels.
It all stems from the media. This is a fact we have all already identified and acknowledged. Everyone knows the spiel, how seeing photoshopped magazine covers and perfected Instagram posts takes a hit at young girl’s self-image, and suddenly they are over-conscious about making their bodies mirror the public’s version of beautiful. But from first-hand experience, I can say that it is so much more than that. I am the first to accept the fact that I will never be Jennifer Lawrence, nor was I physically born to have the stature of Alexis Ren. Yet I still have a deep feeling of remorse and shame when it comes to body comparison, just from looking around me.
I am surrounded by girls my age, at my high school, on my water polo team, in my higher level classes, eating near me at lunch, and walking past me in the halls. These are all girls who play sports at the same rigorous tempo as I do, buy the same gluten free protein bars at the store as I do, and push themselves in school the way I do, yet somehow I feel an intense isolation from them.
No, I have never had any traumatic bullying experience that scarred me for my entire school career, nor does anyone ever tell me negative comments on how they view my body. But I hear voices in my head, partly from the media but mainly from myself, telling me that I am inadequate. That I should be seeing a very different girl looking back from the mirror then I do. And as a result of these voices, I take a step away from all the girls who I could relate to. I make negative assumptions about the thoughts they have about me, without giving myself a chance to see how they truly perceive me. It becomes a part of my identity, despite whether it belongs there or not.
In the past few months though, I have learned to grow above these beliefs. I want to tell girls all around the world that the single way to overcome this major pothole in the journey to reaching self-love is to realize that the negative voice in your head is nobody but yourself. You are the one putting these words into your brain, and YOU are the only one who can remove them. If you had the power and ability to bombard your life with miserable, isolating thoughts, then I promise you that you have the ability to disregard them and begin to flood your mind with positivity.
Just remember to work hard, stop assuming, and think positively, because although we may not be able to control the uncontrollable. we can find a way to make the uncontrollable elements of our lives beautiful imperfections. With this mindset, we shall unite as one and face the world together, not isolated and alone.