I turned 27 last week.
My life is a bit of a mess, but I’m happy anyway. And here’s the best part: I’ve never felt so good in my own skin.
Last June, I stumbled upon this window at Selfridges. As I waited for tourists on Oxford Street to get out of the way so I could snap a picture, I remember thinking that I was definitely not part of that 60%. I loved my body, and I was not ashamed of it.
I was lying to myself.
It was partly this window that shook me up. It was partly the wrong boy who said the right things and made me feel like my body was something to be cherished, as opposed to some inconvenience I had to live with. It was partly my own willingness to finally be honest with myself that led me to realize that I was, despite my best intentions, ashamed of the way I looked.
Up until fairly recently, I didn’t like my body. Sure, I liked the idea of it. I liked thinking that I could look at myself in the mirror and really, really, without the shadow of a doubt, love the reflection staring back at me. But I was too afraid to admit all my imperfections to get to a real place of self-acceptance and self-love. I pretended to love something I wasn’t willing to face.
That’s the thing about acceptance: it only comes with honesty.
It took a lot of work.
I thought a lot. About how I see others, about how they see me, and about seeing myself through their eyes. About how our bodies are the greatest instruments that we’ll ever have. About how, instead of wasting time wishing I looked different, I could spend it enjoying my body for all its imperfections. About forgiving myself for not living up to impossible standards of beauty engrained in me by a society that unknowingly (?) destroys the self-worth of girls before they’ve even hit puberty.
It’s been a long time since I stopped believing that I would only ever be pretty if I lost 20 pounds, straightened my hair and sported all the latest trendy and expensive clothes. I don’t want those things. And yet, until recently, I didn’t really let myself want the way I look, either. I sort of just lived through it, as if it wasn’t something to be proud of. It is. And I finally am.
Acceptance hasn’t been a perfect process. I’m still not 100% happy with the way I look. But maybe that was the hardest part for me: admitting that I would never be. Realizing that I could love my body and still have days or moments when I didn’t.
It’s weird, but I kinda feel like I’m in rehab now. Because this is what I tell myself everytime I look in the mirror:
Hi, my name is Laurie and I like my body.