I Am Beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to look for a shirt that had a body-positive quote on it to wear around campus and to promote this blog. However, despite my best efforts to find one, there were literally none to be found on any website or search engine online. Slightly bitter, I decided to take matters into my own hands and designed a shirt myself. I wanted something that not only looked cool, but that also caused me to feel good about myself--I wanted it to say what I believed in the simplest and loudest way possible.

Anyways, after about a week of going through what felt like hundreds of rough drafts on Photoshop (and harassing my friends and family members for their input), I was able to decide on my final design:

"I am beautiful."

Is it vain? No.
Is it empowering? Definitely.

Considering the journey that I've taken over the last five years, wearing this shirt in public is a mile-marker for me. When I was going through my eating disorders, I would have never identified myself as being beautiful; I hated every pound of my body, every glance in the mirror, every aspect of my being. I thought being beautiful only applied to the girls who were, well, beautiful. It seemed like a title earned only by the select few who happened to look the part (skinny, curvy, athletic, stylish, etc).

As I've gotten older, overcome my eating disorders, and moved on from the social pressures of high school, I realize that being beautiful and being attractive are two totally different things. Beauty isn't something that you can find by going to the gym, dieting, or throwing up in a toilet bowl (despite what society may tell us). Those habits usually stem from self-loathing and the act of securing your self-esteem by constantly manipulating your appearance to favor the ever-changing preferences of the world. Believing that you're beautiful occurs when your overlook your appearance and allow your self-esteem to be anchored by your own opinion of yourself.

Being beautiful isn't determined by how we look, being beautiful is a part of who we are; it's intrinsic to every individual.

I've always thought that it's funny how we're so quick to find beautiful things in other people, but so slow and stubborn when it comes to finding beauty in ourselves. Maybe it's because we live in a world where we're constantly told how inadequate we are and that we can never be beautiful on our own; there's always a new product, a new diet, or a new workout DVD that can make us "better".

As a result, we tend to apologize for our bodies, rather than applaud them.

Society would like to have us think that a "normal" or "ideal" woman is thin, non-handicapped, young, attractive, and fit. But let's be honest, out of the millions of women who live in this world, how many would actually meet these requirements?

If beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, shouldn't we work harder to see the value within ourselves rather than placing our value in the hands of others?

By proudly acknowledging that we are beautiful, we not only challenge the ridiculous standards of the world, we overcome them. We become liberated and powerful; a force to be reckoned with. A source for change.

I've found that as I've come to accept myself as beautiful, I've been able to love my body despite how I may look or what state I may be in. I've stopped comparing myself to those around me and stopped seeing myself as a contestant in a competition or an object under scrutiny. I judge less, and as a result, I see more.

Like dominoes, my health, self-esteem, and body image have fallen into place thanks to the simple act of seeing myself as something of value. Now I know that trends and cultural standards always change, but my worth as an individual will always stay the same.

Associating yourself with beauty isn't vain or prideful, it's a sign of confidence and self-esteem.
It's loving and accepting yourself on your own terms, in your own ways.
It's a badge of courage.
It's a conscious decision and a never-ending uphill battle.

Although I still might not be consistent in associating positive thoughts towards my body, I finally appreciate it for all that it is (and isn't).

My body may not fit the current textbook definition of beauty, but I am beautiful.


Because I think so.
And that's all that matters.

(If you're interested in buying a shirt like mine, contact me [Instagram, Facebook, email, etc] or let me know in the comments below. If at least 20 people sign up for one, it will only cost about $15 per shirt instead of the $30 that mine cost. Once that happens, I can open a store on the blog and we can move on from there! Thanks!)

UPDATE: The shop for the shirts is now open! See the top navigation menu above for the link!

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