It’s Friday. My rest day. Rest days lately have felt like a treat. I used to feel like they were undeserved or unnecessary – but I’ve been enjoying them. Even better, my rest days now come with an assignment: to write myself a love note. (Spoiler: it’s really tough to write amazing things about yourself.) But since I love challenges and love, I’m all about this.
And tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! While I think it’s fantastic that we devote a holiday to showing love to our significant others, I think we, in general, show far too little love for ourselves. In honor of my rest day assignment and also Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to finish and publish a piece that has been sitting in my drafts for four months.
love you, too
For a really long time, I’d been uncomfortable with the way that I looked. It was never at the forefront of my mind, not something that consumed me or something that was important enough to talk about – but it was there. I enjoyed photography because it took the focus off of me, allowed me to see the beauty in other things and people, and kept me from being in front of the camera. Photoshoots with friends growing up always involved me putting on way too much makeup and editing down a set of 200+ photos to one or two that I was okay with – after it went through Photoshop.
That’s just how I felt about myself. I kind of thought that it was normal. People all around me complained about their bodies being “too fat,” “too thin”, “too tall”, “too short,” “too ugly,” “too hairy,” “too bald.” Everyone was too something. It was totally abnormal to be happy with yourself, or if you were, you hid it.
I’d go to the beach and only take my shirt and shorts off right before I’d get in the water. I’d sleep on my back at night in hopes that my stomach would shrink into itself. I once heard that a neighbor of ours would sleep with saran-wrap wrapped around her torso to suck things in – as everyone else spoke negatively, all I could think was that’s a good idea. I’d wash my hands in the public restroom but never dare to look up in the mirror – I didn’t want anyone else to think that I was admiring this body that was “not worth the admiration.”
Losing those 15 pounds has been a miracle for me. Sure, I lost some chub, but I don’t actually look all that different from my heavier self. The biggest change has happened in my head. Granted, I knew this change was coming about slowly, but it still comes as a shock when I realize how long it’s been since I felt uncomfortable in my body. Sure, I have bad days – days where I eat or drink too much and it reflects physically. Days where I break out and have to pull out the makeup. Days where I’m just in a bad mood!
But… I’m happy with myself. I realize, in retrospect, that losing the weight wasn’t really what I was after – though it was my goal at the time. I was never looking for a specific number on the scale. I was never hoping to fit into a certain clothing size. I was looking to be happy. I was looking to love myself. I was looking to prove that I could conquer something. Losing weight was a test.
Now, when I see a picture of me that I dislike, I don’t hate myself for it. I can accept that it’s just a horrible photo, not a reflection of who I am or what work I have left to do.
My legs that I always thought were so small and frail-looking: can carry me up 6,000-ft mountains and down the street 13.1 miles – and later this year, 26.2! I love my legs.
My stomach that rolls up when I sit: can endure (without complaint) feasts of popcorn and calisthenic ab torture.
My arms that were never worth phoning home about: can do pushup after pushup after pushup!
My wide, spherical face: can smile bigger than the best of them, has a dimple and looks like a Raymond face.
This is my body.