Have you ever caught yourself apologizing for your size or appearance? I have. Multiple times. Usually to myself.

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep my thoughts drifted towards my body and how other people perceive how I look. As I rolled over in my bed, I whispered, "I'm sorry", in the hope of washing away these thoughts from my mind. For some reason I felt a wave of embarrassment, not only for me, but for anyone and everyone who has ever had to look at me. I was ashamed that I would never live up to society's expectations or beauty standards.

My thighs touch together.
I'll never be smaller than a size 8 (unless I starve myself...which I've done, and will never do again).
I have a chubby face with delicate features.
I have stretch marks along my hips.
My upper arms are flabby.
I have back fat.

And along with all of this, I would much rather have my hands in a bag of chips than have my feet in a pair of running shoes.

My question though, is why are all of these characteristics considered to be negative or derogatory to who I am as an individual or how attractive I may (or may not) be? How can the length of a measuring tape around my waist ever produce an accurate measurement of my character?

J.K. Rowling has been quoted as saying:

Fat is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her. I mean, is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel? 

I think it's ironic that as women, our worth is determined by how much we don't weigh, rather than how much we do. At times it seems like the less we are, the more we are.  Society looks at our size first, and our accomplishments second. In a sense, our appearances, not our actions, often speak louder than our words, thoughts, or beliefs.

What can we do to fix this?

One of the first steps to changing how we see ourselves, and how we see others, is to change our vocabulary. "Thin" and "fat" should never be synonymous with insults or the lesser. The amount of power that simple descriptions of anatomy are given, and the extent to which they're used as indicators of worth, is ridiculous. No one should ever feel inadequate, judged, or stereotyped due to their body size, whether it be large, or small, natural or unnatural. By applying negativity to physical features within humanity, we begin to see ourselves in a negative light due to our self-association with those words and traits. Media emphasis on certain types of bodies is equally as poisonous. It's been said that a "picture is worth a thousand words", and if that's true, one can only imagine the impact that the thousands of images of idealized bodies, that we see on nearly a daily basis, have on us as well. 

As I was skimming through some of the recent posts done by "Humans of New York", I came across this:
"I'm trying not to hate my body. I love my hair and my hands, but everything else I wouldn't mind switching out."

I've come to believe that as women, we're taught by various sources that we're only worth our parts, rather than the sum of our parts. Like animals placed before a butcher, only the best cuts of meat are considered desirable-- with our objectivity, not subjectivity, placed on the chopping block. Too often we try to "salvage" and buoy our self esteem by finding small aspects of our appearance that are socially acceptable, rather than accepting ourselves as a whole, human being. We tend to feel that if every aspect of our body isn't deemed good by society's standards, we're no good at all; making it hard to accept ourselves as naturally imperfect due to impossible ideals of perfection placed upon our shoulders by ourselves, our peers, and our culture.

Well, I'm saying, "enough" to all of this.

It might sound crazy, but today as I was walking to class, I realized that I like my thighs.

I like that they're bigger.
I like that they don't have a gap between them.
I like that they're soft.
I like the way that skirts drape over them.

But most of all, I like that they're mine.
And the same goes for the rest of my body too.

So, no more apologizing.
No more self-loathing.
No more guilt.
No more comparing.
No more shame when I see my reflection.
No more seeing my body as a rough draft or a construction-zone.
No more relying on the connotations of adjectives or the glances of other people.

Our bodies tell our stories, and my life is nothing to be ashamed of.

I've overcome two eating disorders, a terminal illness, and the everyday trials that come from living. Battles have been won, and obstacles overcome... in this body, at various sizes. Yes, I have fat on my arms, stomach and thighs, but I'm learning to see those areas as a source of pride, rather than disgrace. They're a reminder of who I am, and what I'm capable of doing.

So, today, I choose to love myself as is.
Not for how I was, or will be.
But for how I am right now.


And that's okay. 

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