If We All Boldly Did.

by Sarah Ming

For the majority of my life I've felt too big. Like I stood out more than the rest. Always bigger than my friends. Always secretly loving my butt and my strong legs but always wanting a smaller stomach and arms. Wondering how I could ever be happy with my body when I heard those around me who were much smaller than me not even being happy with theirs.

I never understood how I could work out 6 days a week and eat clean and still be bigger than those around me. I was always unsuccessfully trying to force my body type into standards that it would NEVER achieve.

How did I deal with the body shame and the insecurities? I pretended like they didn't exist. Pushed them away. Overcompensated in working out all the time and exterior confidence. I hid it so well that I even had myself fooled for a while.

I remember during high school weighing the lowest I have ever weighed in my life and looking in the mirror and thinking, "Not good enough. You're still fatter than everyone else."

I remember abusing laxatives for a short time my senior year. Only doing them "once in a while" so I could trick myself into thinking I wasn't abusing them.

I remember being so obsessed with my weight that I would hop on the scale multiple times a day, only to find myself heavier at night then in the morning (well duh) and literally feeling crushed by it.

I remember going to soccer practice for 3 hours a day and then heading to the gym later... not to feel better or to make my body stronger, but to attempt to achieve a type of body that I would never ever get.

I hid behind obsessive working out and pretended it was healthy.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with loving to work out. Working out still is and always will be one of my favorite things to do. I love the feeling you get when you feel yourself getting stronger. When you feel sweat dripping down your back. When you're sore the next day after a brutal workout. But our mental state behind the working out is also so so so important. I wasn't working out to feel good or get stronger… I was working out to get as skinny as I could get… to receive compliments… to hide the shame of feeling like my natural body wasn't good enough.

Fast forward to 18-year-old me deciding that I was done. That I was tired of striving to look like something that I will never ever look like. Tired of the back and forth between feeling amazing about myself and my body and hating it. I remember coming to the end of shaming myself and deciding that I would get freedom from this demon. That my worth would no longer be taken into account by the dress size I wear or the stretch marks on my thighs or the weight on that stupid scale.

I'm not saying I don't have days where I wake up and second guess if I love my body. Where I force myself to burn an excessive amount of calories in one day. Where I question if I should eat the piece of pizza. But I no longer push the feelings away. I stare my insecurities right in the face and refuse to let them have power over me. I choose to love this body of mine. I choose to stop myself from thinking the degrading thoughts about my body. I choose to work out to make my body stronger and healthier- NOT JUST SKINNIER.

Some people think body image issues are a joke. That women need to "stop being so sensitive" and "just have confidence lol." But I think it's an epidemic. Go to a college campus and listen to conversations girls have with their friends about themselves and about other people. Never pretty enough. Never skinny enough. Too much flab. Too much cellulite. It's all a comparison game...and a deadly game at that. Normal sized girls see themselves as "huge" and belittle themselves and their bodies.

We CAN cut this ugly lie off at the head. We can show girls that they don't have to fit into any standard body type. That they can attempt to be the best and healthiest version of themselves without comparing themselves to other girls and tearing themselves down.

I don’t know about yall but I want to love myself and my body exactly as it is right now.

I don't want to decide to love my body whenever I lose 10 pounds or tone up my arms.

I want to look at myself in a mirror and think "oooh I look good."

I want to be at peace with the body that I've been given.

Screw that, I AM at peace with this body I've been given (FINALLY.)

Yes, I will keep working to better myself mentally and physically. Yes, I will keep lifting weights and running on a treadmill to relieve stress and to get stronger. But I will NOT live with shame because my body is bigger than the small bodies that society glorifies. I will not attempt to make myself a size that my body could never obtain. I will wear those shorts at Zumba and let my thighs jiggle as I dance around. I will wear the crop top that shows my not-totally-flat stomach. I will wear a bathing suit that shows the stretch marks on my thighs.

This wasn't written to make myself sound like a victim or to be pitied… this was written in the hope that maybe just maybe, me loving the real, raw version of myself will push other girls to love themselves too. I will unapologetically love myself and this body of mine. And I get chills imagining what kind of world this would be if we all boldly did.

Sarah Ming