currently writing from: Palm Springs, CA
Well to put it bluntly - we all know the "cultural norm" if you will. Blonde, symmetrical facial features, slender hourglass, 32 C's on the boob front, and a “knockout ass.” Here's the part I find interesting: we are bred to think that that type is "normal." And while even that statistic is beautiful, it is not the norm.
Look around you.
How many 6 ft. blonde runway models do you see daily? Chances are: not a lot. Yet, how many average sized beautiful women, measurements scattered all over, do you see daily? I could be wrong, but roughly 8 out of 10. Now, isn't it funny that the real "normal" here is what we already are? Yet we look for a different “normal,” one that seems like it will bring a better life. The worst part is, while we are out chasing a new normal that isn't even normal at all, we are missing out on truly living the one life we have. So I guess the challenge is this: we've complicated the use of the word normal. The word "normal," commonly used to label things that are fairly easy to achieve, has now been tacked on to a very uncommon reality that we beat ourselves up to achieve.
At one point in my life, I was the cliche. Plain and simple, I wanted to be the woman in the magazine. To me, her life seemed so simple. She appeared: still, content, and beautiful. Once I grew up a little I realized something very important. It was a photograph. Photographs can catch a variety of emotion, hold them still in time, and make you believe in them. That, truly, is actually an incredible thing. But in my case, I believed their life was as effortless as it seemed behind the lens.
It wasn't until I actually made friends with many models that I realized: their lives weren't idyllic. Sure, they weren't bad. But for the first time I realized: these beautiful creatures were humans too, and had their own share of problems. Some, not far off from my own.
And some, to my shock, were about their bodies. It was then that it hit me.
If these stunning models had body issues too, it couldn't be a matter of the body itself, but one of the mind.
My lowest point was probably when I had been in my first year of college. I was a student at a fashion college, so naturally I'd be staring at models many times a week. I would see their slender builds and think by some miracle my 5 ft 3" Curvy Hispanic ass could achieve those results by either:
A) Diet. B) Excessive Exercise. C) Skipping meals.
Now - none of those worked because, (let's be real,) I love to eat. So my problem didn't manifest itself completely physically, but more as an emotional torture. When I realized I couldn't attain that build I wanted, I drank. And I drank A LOT. I drank until I didn't care. And I did that for a while, until I realized that alcohol is sugar, which turns into fat, and bam... Square one.
Which in turn led me back to my previous point: being body positive is about your STATE OF MIND, not the way your love handles are snuggling those jeans.
No amount of calorie counting, skipping meals, or obsessing over cardio would bring me the acceptance of myself that I was aching for.
I think the turning point for me was throwing out the scale. I had tried every diet under the sun and to be frank, just said, "f**k it". I wanted to feel good. I decided to throw my "#bodygoals" out the window with the scale and see how it went. I didn't need a number taunting me every time I was in the bathroom. I didn't measure my IQ on a scale - I knew I was smart. Why did it have to be different with my weight? I didn't need a number defining me.
So I started adding healthier foods into my diet. Instead of taking away things I loved, I just added the nutrients my body needed. I wanted to build my body, not tear it down. As I began eating healthier (and actual full sized meals), I started throwing in some mild exercise. I would only do things I found stimulating and fun, nothing mind-numbing. As the weeks carried on I began to notice something different; I was happy.
I mean truly happy.
I would have 8 pancakes at breakfast, do only ten squats 'cause I was tired, and then maybe even have a steak and potato dinner- and I never felt guilty once. I couldn't believe myself. It had been about 5 months since I had stepped on a scale and I didn't even care. In fact, I felt that I may have even lost a couple pounds, but at that point it didn't matter. I started falling in love with my body, the way I should've a long time ago. I respected it. I nurtured it. I let it exercise, and I let it nourish itself. I cared for it the way you care about those you love. I deprived my body of nothing, and it brought me the happiness I had been seeking.
I had a Dr. appointment the week of my realization. I actually began to feel nervous. I knew I'd have to step on a scale. And though I told myself I didn't care, there was still an inner demon waiting to know the outcome.
Oddly enough, I had lost 15 lbs. Yes exercise and health food helps, but most of all, I truly believe happiness is the key. Self-acceptance is the key. Unconditional love is the key.
I will say this: this is a battle that won't be easy. It's not just going to go away over night. The insecurities will linger. You will second-guess yourself, and you may even blame yourself.
Like me, you may have those inner demons, waiting to find your heart in moments of weakness. They will try to tell you that you aren't good enough. Small enough. Curvy enough. Whatever it may be. They will talk s**t to you, and tell you anything to throw you off course.
But as I grow and mature, I've realized the people who spend their time talking s**t about other people, are nothing but bored people. They are bored with their own lives, so they find their way into yours - if only to have you join in their misery. You're better than that. You are your own person.
And that person you see in that mirror?
She's exactly who she should be. Beautiful. Exciting. Vibrant. Strong.
- Lauren Waldvogel