ETHNIC GLOW B F

Refuse to Play their Game and You Automatically Win

An emaciated form of self-confidence will weigh you down. You and only you carry the weight of your mind every day.

I grew up with a distorted view of my body from the time I was eight years old, when I first heard someone in my family say, “Grace will need to watch what she eats as she gets older or she will get fat.” When I was a teenager, I would often hear relatives say negative things about my body; this wasn’t directly towards me, but it was said when they thought I was no longer in earshot. When I was twelve I began to diet. This was during the late nineties when runway models were extremely thin, and when beauty magazines began cautioning against anorexia and bulimia. It was the ‘thin craze.’ Thin was in. I remember reading about when Kate Winslet refused to lose weight after ‘Titanic.’ That inspired me. Here was this beautiful household name of a woman who was turning down high-paying movie roles because she was asked to lose weight.  They wanted her but, when they set a condition she did not care to meet, she walked away! That’s powerful.

Yet things grew worse. At sixteen I collapsed into deep depression, and even contemplated suicide because I hated my body. No one could understand what was happening to me. I was covered with severe acne, had the worst hair, and was living in the body some had already deemed repulsive and unlovable since I was a child. I believed them. I went on, trying different things like dieting and exercising. I remember one day in high school, while I was in one of the stalls moping in my self-loathing, a student burst in crying and skewered her own body, calling herself “fat and ugly.” I will never forget that day. In a sense it was comforting to finally discover I was not alone, but at that moment I was more sad for her than for me. 

Even today, there have been people in my life who have tried to “apple-shame” me. I call it that because, even though I don’t like categorizing myself into a specific body shape, this is what beauty experts call it: the apple-shaped body.  They have lumped many beautiful celebrity women into this category. Essentially, the apple-shape is considered the least desirable of all the body shapes, even according to many so-called fashion gurus! Many blogs exist to help women dress up their apple shape because so many women are battling this underdog of the fashion world.

I have lived in this healthy body for thirty-five years now, and I refuse to be pigeonholed or categorized by anyone, even if it’s the most prestigious beauty magazines or blogs. I have lived in this body long enough to realize that you and you alone carry the weight of your mind, and if that weight is multiplied by negative self-talk and emaciated self-confidence, your journey will become a tiring and overwhelming one, and you know something?

Life is too short and life is too beautiful to spend it walking in the shadows of others’ ideas and opinions about your body.

The journey towards loving myself and my body, towards embracing my body through its ups and downs, has been an odyssey nothing short of Homer. Over ten plus years, I have felt like the mythical Odysseus, battling the Cyclops of the beauty and fashion industry, against the Charybdis of internal monsters; I have fought past my own negative self-talk while combatting the criticism and negativity of others around me. Yet I have arrived. I deeply love and accept myself as I am today. For I am enough, and I am worthy. 

There has been much I have had to do to counteract all of the critical foes, be they in my own head or outside. I have also learned to take better care of myself, of my skin, my body, and my mind. And I have been on the side that only focuses on body but does not give equal focus to the mind. Listen, you can wear the most expensive name brands, workout every day, have flawless-looking skin or wear the most high-end makeup and have your hair on point, but if you have not empowered your mind, if you have not done the work on your mind, all of this falls flat like a house of cards. I played that theatrical game for years, and I was still unhappy and depressed, until I realized it all starts in the mind!

I want to encourage you to embrace yourself, you body, your curves, your skin, everything about you. What makes you unique? You are more than just your body, but if you can shift your mindset and learn to deeply love and accept your body, oh, you will be walking heavy! You will enter a room and the giants will tremble at your presence!

I encourage you to defy all of those monsters just as I did. Walk in your own lane, and think tall! Yes, it’s about having great posture, but ensure your mind has excellent posture too! 

 

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