I get it. Growing up, I was surrounded by beautiful women. It’s the complex culture I was raised in. I remember sitting at the swimming pool at the age of eight, staring at countless tall, thin, statuesque women and wondering if I would ever look like them.
Little did I know I wasn’t built to look like them. I was chubby and round. My stomach didn’t resemble the washboard tummies of most of the other kids. I was more like a long stick figure with a bowling ball placed in my midsection. My “apple body” was beginning to appear years before I would even go through puberty.
At that young age, I didn’t yet understand what an “apple body” was, much less what that would mean in my pursuit to find positive body image. All I knew was that I was different in how my curves appeared. I didn’t yet perceive my curves as good or bad. Just different.
As I got older, the beauty of the those statuesque mothers was passed onto their now-teenaged offspring. There I sat at the same pool, comparing myself to my beautiful friends. The toughest part was that my childhood best friend was what society would perceive as perfect. Every single teenage boy stared at her long platinum blond hair, thin physique, and hourglass curves. Next to her, I felt like a Sasquatch.
I began to fall into a trap that would haunt me for years to come. Me. Her. Me. Her.
I didn’t know where I fit in. Absolutely nothing about my body resembled her body or any of the other bodies around me. It felt completely unfair. I felt slighted in a world where beautiful bodies were the norm. I needed to find something, anything, to feel worthy.
Consequently, I compulsively dieted to lose the apple body curves. Of course, the more pounds I dropped, the more people noticed. “You look amazing.” “What have you done to lose the weight?” “You’re stunning.” Diet feedback became a sort of addiction that developed into a vicious cycle. Thin was good; curvy was bad. There was no in between.
I didn’t realize was that I was setting the stage for years of misery. I was never happy. And why? I hadn’t learned to appreciate my own unique qualities: my height, my green eyes, the beauty of my round tummy, my sense of humor, my adventurous nature, my intelligence, or my passionate sense of loyalty toward my family and friends. I hadn’t even taken the time to explore who I really was because I had based every bit of self worth I attained on impossible standards I had created in my head.
I was a shell, controlled by everything I thought I “should be.”
The thing is, my struggles are not unique. Comparison traps are something many plus-size women, and all women for that matter, fall into. We look at other women and immediately dismiss our own beauty. We think: “I’m too fat.” “Why can’t I look like her?” And, my favorite, “why can’t I be naturally thin?”
Never once do we stand back and celebrate our own bodies. Unfortunately, this trap extends far beyond the plus-size world. Even the women we would perceive as “perfect” pick themselves apart. Enough is never enough; and beauty is never simple.
And why wouldn’t we feel this way? It’s no secret how we got here. We live in a comparison-based culture. We are taught to embrace “thin” and “perfect” as the norm. We aren’t taught to celebrate our own unique beauty, or to accept our curves. If we do this, some troll out there will call us “fat,” “lazy,” or a “poor example of health.”
What’s even worse is that if we gain weight, people gossip. If we lose weight, people celebrate with us. As a result, the comparison trap continues. The web of destruction spins endlessly.
After facing many years of the same misery, I began to grow tired of my self-propelled absurdity. I knew I needed to change, to finally allow myself to be satisfied with the body I was born with. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how.
I continued to search, unsure how to turn my body image around in a different direction. And then it happened one random day when I was talking to my best friend Andrea (who, by the way, is Curvicality’s VP and Fashion Editor). Though I don’t remember the exact words in our conversation, I can tell you that at that exact moment I realized what the problem was: I wasn’t giving myself any credit where credit was due.
As time went on, I began to challenge my perception of beauty. Is thin really perfect? No. Is what we see in the media real? No. Is there some absolute definition of what we are supposed to be? Absolutely not.
Loving your body is choice. Celebrating your curves is a choice. Making this choice gave me the ability to embrace an entirely new view of myself. Rather than fighting who I am, I wake up every single day and celebrate the fact that I was born to be a plus-size woman. My body just wasn’t made to be thin; and that doesn’t make me any less beautiful than my thinner friends.
By doing this, I’ve completely shifted how I view other women. How they look has absolutely nothing to do with me. I’m unique in my own rite. There’s no one else who is just like me; and I’m not like anyone else.
This doesn’t mean I have given up on my pursuit of health. I work out like a champ and eat reasonably healthy. What this means is that nine times out of 10, I’ve stopped wishing I were different. And, most importantly, I’ve stopped comparing myself to other females. I can appreciate their beauty, while at the same appreciating my own.
Finding the beauty in yourself is a choice. Stopping the comparison game is a choice. And learning to love your curves is a choice. I know you can do it. If I can, anyone can. You just have to be brave enough to take that leap.
In closing, remember this. You’re too amazing to compare yourself to everyone else, my friend. Believe it. Embrace your beauty. You’re worth it. Little by little, you can make a change. It all starts with celebrating you.
What works for you? Share how you’ve stopped comparing your body below.