By Dawn Onley
While flipping through an old photo of my 20-something self recently, the first thought that crossed my mind was I wish I were still that size. Then, the next thought hit me like a ton of bricks.
When I WAS that size, I didn’t appreciate it. Instead, in much the same way I do now, I focused on my problem areas and longed to be smaller, weigh less, be more toned, more fit, more muscular, more… always, more. Never enough.
Why did it have to take 20 years for me to fully see the beauty in that picture? Why does the first look at our pictures tend to be a critical one?
The realization was so powerful for me because as women, we are force-fed images all the time of what society considers beautiful — and very often, these images don’t match how we look and who we are. If you are a woman of color, the distinction between what is touted as beautiful is even greater. Although the average American woman is a size 12-14, that size would be considered almost obese on an average model in a fashion magazine.
As hard as we may try, those images seep into our psyche, and can leave us on a never-ending quest to look a certain way. Too often, how we look is linked to how we feel about ourselves, and this is dangerous territory.
After my aha moment, I made a vow not to be so harsh with my self and with my images.
My takeaway is this: I commit to love my body in all of its glorious imperfections now and hereto ever after; to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle for life while releasing myself from the hamster wheel of trying to be a certain size and a certain weight; to embrace every new stage I’m blessed enough to enter; to be kind to myself through it all; and to not let another 20 days past – let alone 20 years – before I smile at how far I’ve come and blow a kiss to myself in the mirror.
I vow to do my best, to give it my all, and then to just be.
Snap a picture of yourself. Take a good look at it. Look at yourself in the mirror. Take it all in. One day, you’ll think the reflection looking back at you is gorgeous. I hope that day is today, because you are. And I am, too.
Love and acceptance is the key.