When I look in the mirror, I see something a lot different than I saw five years ago. When I look in the mirror today, I see a clear representation of who I am. I am overweight, but I feel healthier than ever before. The dark circles under my eyes stand as markers for my allergies and tendency to get less sleep than I should. My skin is a bit pale. but what else would you expect with a redhead? I see my flaws, but I am not horrified by them. They are what make me me. I am confident in who I am, but I haven’t always been able to face my reflection like this.
Like any other high school girl, I often worried way too much about how I looked and what everyone around me thought when they saw me. I had braces and pimples. My family couldn’t afford those expensive mall clothes most of my friends wore, and even if they could I knew I wouldn’t fit into any of them. My mom always told me I was just big-boned, but when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see any bones at all: all I saw was a giant blob of fat. I stared at every square inch of my reflection and cringed with self-hate.
Why couldn’t I be like all those women on TV? Why couldn’t I be skinny? That’s where most of my problems started. You see, when I looked in the mirror I saw a monster. Looking back now, I can see that I was not fat. I wasn’t skinny, but I was not morbidly obese like I thought I was. What I saw in the mirror was not a true representation of who I was. It was a distorted image that years of longing to be like the images of women that flashed all around me convinced me was a reality.
It wasn’t until I was able to realize that what I see in the mirror is not as important as how I feel and how I treat my body that I was able to see a truer image staring back at me. I know that I am bigger now than I was my Freshman year of high school, but my stomach doesn’t turn when I see my reflection anymore. Instead I can look in the mirror confidently, even when I know I am obese, because I know that I am working towards something greater than a flat stomach and mall clothes: I’m working towards becoming a healthier me, and that’s far more rewarding than fitting the profile of what society tells me I should fit into.
Even though I’ve been able to break through the barriers of a negative body-image and low self-esteem, that doesn’t mean that the battle is over. So many young girls right now are worrying about the same thing that I worried about. As I grow older I hear more and more of friends that I grew up with who struggled with the same thing I did whether they struggled with their weight or not.
This problem is a lot larger than most of us would like to think, but how can we combat it? We can’t possibly shield every young mind from the false images of society’s idea of beauty because it is everywhere we look. But maybe we can try to turn their attention to what really matters: loving who you are, and giving your body what it needs, not to be socially acceptable, but to be healthy and happy.
Thanks to Daily Post, this post was inspired by this writing prompt