Squeezing In

The average woman checks her reflection eight times a day.


We live at a time when obsessing over our bodies has become a daily activity. The female form has been scrutinized and held against various standards that have been set since the beginning of human existence. 


For most of my life, I have been very aware of how others perceive the way I look. I guess I tend to analyze social interactions in several aspects of my life, which some could say is useful, but it often forces me to be harder on myself and the way I look. I am not unique in disliking my body: most people have things that they would change about their appearance. It is the experiences of bullying that occur as a consequence that has impacted me. Experiences that made me believe that my weight and appearance would define me and dictate how others treat me. I soon started to take measures to attain a body like “everyone else”, which not only took a toll on my mental wellbeing but also my physical self. When it came to my body, I felt like I had to compensate: I had to be funny, athletic, or smart to avoid being defined by my physical appearance. When interviewing a few students from our school on the experiences that they have had with their body image, some of the comments I received were….. 


  • “My ballet and gymnastics teacher told me that I was too fat for the role when I was 5, I spiraled into an eating disorder”  
  • “When I was 8, my aunt gave me exercises to reduce my arm fat, it was not that I was overweight it was about my appearance and the way I looked”
  • “I was called things like…“anorexic” “stick thin” “peasant, sick” “ugly, and disgusting to look at” 
  • “I used to sleep with belts on, because I was told I had no curves, I was ugly and nobody would ever like me” 


What shocks me is that these were only some of the comments that I received. 


When we’re younger, because of the lack of education on topics such as body image, we tend to stigmatize such discussions. At the age of 10, I heard girls talking about how they felt uncomfortable with wearing bikinis, because their ribs would stick out and be more prominent, or their belly fat would be on full display. Clothes shopping was a nightmare for some because nothing ever fit them right. Skinny jeans always sag, and by the time they fit in width, they’re too short. For some, jeans made their figure look “box-like”, and their thighs became “big and fat”. 


We try too hard to be perfect, but don’t we love things that aren’t perfect? Like our favorite singers that had a few songs, we couldn’t get through? You don’t have to be perfect to be loved, and neither does your body. I don’t think I’m the only woman who knows this. We need to learn how to stick up for our bodies and declare that we love it despite a culture that says that women ought to be ashamed of what they were born with. My body is there for me even when no one else is. I refuse to devalue it.


Writing an article and telling people to just love themselves isn’t going to work, and I’m well aware of that. However, it takes us one step closer to having discussions that break the stigma and address the issue. It helps you remember that you are not alone; we all have insecurities that are sometimes apparent on the surface, but at times hidden under an unbreakable barrier that we create. What I am saying is, take a moment to step back and think about why we try so hard “to be like the other girls or boys”, these people are most probably going through the same things that we are, this is all of our fights. You are beautiful in your own way no matter who you are. Embrace it, be yourself, wear the clothes you have always wanted to wear, be the person you have always wanted to be. What’s the most that can happen, people talk, so let them; slowly we will be a society that accepts everyone for who they are. The real people that will stay in your life will always be there no matter what/who you decide to be.