During the last week of July, my family and I went to Bryce Canyon as our summer vacation. While I was packing for the trip, I grabbed my "I am beautiful" t-shirt thinking that this would be a great opportunity to promote the blog and to wear the shirt out in the real-world for photos that I could use in a future blog post.

However, when we got to the park my plan went totally out the window.


Reason 1-I wore the shirt once and immediately took it off (I'll explain later--also, light grey is super unforgiving when it comes to sweat marks).
Reason 2-Most of the tourists at Bryce Canyon that weekend were native French-speakers.


Anyways, at the entrance to Bryce Canyon, there's a huge sign that has the park's name on it and as tradition dictates, a lot of visitors (including my family) stop to take photos of themselves in front of the sign before entering the park itself (there's even a column a few feet in front of the sign that was made to put cameras on for optimal photo-taking).

I had brought the shirt with me in my backpack so I could change into it for pictures since I would look like a sweaty mess if I chose to wear it for both pictures and hiking in hot weather (I found this out the hard way after wearing the shirt while sitting through a two hour "rodeo" the day before). So, I decided that the most practical spot to take a picture in the shirt would be in front of the sign rather than inside the actual park itself, so once we got out of our car I asked my sister to take a couple of pictures of me.

Long story short, although I felt great while taking the pictures, I hated how I looked in all of them afterwards.

My stomach showed.
My arms looked too big.
My thighs were touching.
My body looked wider than normal.

I obsessed over how I could have made myself look better or how I could have hid myself more.

I shouldn't have tucked in my shirt.
I should have put my arm on my other hip.
I should have angled myself differently.
I should have worn longer pants.

When I realized that those thoughts wouldn't change what happened, I tried to find ways to "salvage" the photos--and my self-esteem.


I deleted.
I cropped.
I filtered.

No matter what I did, I still hated how I looked.
(Which was ironic, given the shirt that I was wearing)

I allowed negative thoughts and embarrassment about my appearance to consume the rest of my day.

Despite the eating disorders that I've been through and the steps towards self-acceptance that I've made, I'm always surprised by how easily and how often I fall back into old habits of criticizing my body.

During one of my first visits to my eating disorder doctor, Michael Spigarelli, he showed me a piece of paper that looked like this:

What do you see?

When he asked me this question, I responded that I saw a dot. He then asked me if I saw anything else and I told him that I didn't. Dr. Spigarelli went on to explain to me that by only focusing on the dot, I had forgotten to notice the rest of the paper.

How often do we allow ourselves to lose sight of the whole picture by only focusing on the "dots" that are in our lives?

And concerning my situation, how often do we allow ourselves to lose sight of our personal worth by only focusing on the "dots" or "flaws" (which really aren't flaws, but just warped personal opinions) that occur on our bodies?

We all have "dots" on us, but I think it's time for us to embrace our bodies holistically instead of obsessing over what we deem to be our "trouble areas".

Just like there was more to that piece of paper than the dot, there is more to each of us than what we perceive to be our flaws.

Our bodies aren't something to hide, crop, angle, or filter, they are perfect the way they are.

We are the sum of our parts, not the parts themselves.

It's taken me a month to figure out what I've wanted to say in this post. Since the trip to Bryce Canyon, there have been other instances where I've second-guessed my self-esteem or complained about my body. I've had the photos taken at Bryce Canyon hidden in my phone and I've avoided looking at them out of fear.

Luckily, I realize now that how I appear on film or even how I appear in general are the least important things about who I am as a person.

We all struggle with insecurities, but we need to remind ourselves that they are just a small aspect of our lives. And in my case, there was more to that trip than the photos of me that were taken there and there is more to me than those photos.

After all, a piece of paper is more than the dots that are drawn on it.

You know, I actually don't have a problem with 
this picture anymore, I love how happy I look! 

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