Here’s how body image plays a role in a former SWHS student’s life

Dakota Skinner

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Within everyone’s life a common struggle is the acceptance of one’s body and the many forms it can come in. There are many different body types, no one is really the same. Because of society and the pressure we put on each other to have the ‘perfect body’ no one is ever really happy with what they were born with. Society has taken something we should be proud of and something we should cherish into something we despise and would do anything to change.

As a capstone project I chose to research and write about body positivity and why it is important to teach every man, woman, and young adult that loving your body is one of the most important things. If you cannot love yourself and your body then how are you able to love another.

I talked to a recent graduate who was brave enough to tell her story through the series of questions I asked her. She is choosing to be anonymous because even though she is telling her story she still does not want anyone to know it was her exactly that went through the pain. I asked her a series of questions.  

 

When asked about her struggles to get where she is today: “I definitely disliked myself, at some point even hated myself, for a really, really long time. I would look in the mirror and wish that I could somehow ‘remake’ myself. In 8th grade, I started binge eating because I thought I was too skinny, I wanted to fill out and have curves. I was never happy, because I gained too much weight, almost thirty pounds in one year. Then I thought I was fat, I continued to use binge eating to help me cope. I would feel immense hatred for myself for hours after binging.”

 

What is still hard to deal and live with now?: “Something that is still difficult now is not letting what I used to look like get me down. Now that I have gained weight, I often look back at pictures from when I was thinner and wish I could look like that now.”

 

What is something to your younger self? What would it be?: “I would tell myself that numbers matter so little. While I was ‘too skinny’ I was probably at the healthiest in my life, physically and mentally, even if my BMI was low and I ‘looked anorexic.’ I would tell myself to listen to my body, not a number on a scale or what I looked like in the mirror.”

 

What advice would you give the younger women that are growing up?: “It sounds cliche, but surround yourself with people who love you. I shut myself out when I was feeling sad. When I started letting people in, it helped me to cope in a much healthier way. Knowing you have a healthy, strong support system always helps, and raises your self esteem.”

Throughout her entire process this strong and independent woman has grown in immense ways and because of her journey she is in a better and different place than what she was in the beginning of her journey. Due to her battle with herself, she has been through it all and learned many different things from it. Because of the fighting she has endured this young woman is now able to move on with her life and continue to reflect on the hard life issues she may have to face later in life.

Another young woman I interviewed is a current junior at the high school and struggled with her weight and now has found ways to ease the subject and help herself get through the pain. She has done different things to help herself get better mentally and there has been a series of ups and downs for this individual.

 

 

The questions I asked were:

 

What struggles did you go through to get where you are today?: “It took a really long time to pull myself out of the slump where I always thought that there were kind of no point to trying anymore. Being insecure was more than just wearing baggy clothes at school, it was the negative mindset that even if I tried hard to make something change, it never would. I remember thinking everybody would look at me weird and judge me for being at the gym or being at a  restaurant and eating food or being with friends and eating alongside them; even if it was in controlled amounts. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to lose weight.

 

Did body confidence come easy for you? If yes/no why?: “It was a wanting thing. Some days I wear clothes and think “Wow, this is how I’ve always wanted to look.” Other days I stare at myself in the mirror and berate myself until I cry. My body confidence depends on how good I feel about myself on the day, and it is usually a really difficult process to get to a place where I can look at myself and say “Yes, this is how I want to look.” Every time I look in the mirror I don’t look to make sure I look good, I look to find flaws.”

 

What are some of the struggles you faced with accepting your body for what it is?: “I had to stop and realize that everyone’s body is different, that the stretch marks on my stomach or over my hips will never go away. But it is something that i have to deal with and learn to love, to look at them and think that they are a part of me. They made me who I was in the past and they shaped the way I feel in the present and future. I had to learn that sitting there and wallowing in self pity over how much I hated my body wasn’t going to make it better. I had to get up and do something if I wanted to feel better, to understand that the problem resides within no one but myself and only I can fix it.”

 

If you could say something you your younger self, what would it be?: “I would tell her that no everything is dependent on the way other people view you. There will be people in society who dislike you for you no matter what you look like. Do not be tempted by the dislike of a few and overlook the love of others. Accept your friends compliments and don’t use them as an idea of something they lied to you about.”

 

What is still hard to deal and live with now?: “It is difficult to live with the mindset of being someone who hated their body. I use to have serious body image issues, I was extremely sociable. I became more reclusive, thinking that talking to people would be wasted time because everyone hated me for my looks. I never raised my hand in class to attract attention to myself, I tried to cover myself up so no one could see anything when in reality it only accentuated it more. I still get anxiety before trying to approach someone because I still feel like they view me as the former obese person I use to be. I still have trouble putting clothes on sometimes and realizing that not everything will look perfect all the time.”

 

 

Throughout the capstone journey I have found that every single person has a mental block that only the person can tare down. No one can take down the wall that you have built to ‘protect’ yourself, only you can. Body positivity is important for every person to obtain, without it we are all soulless humans who only point out the bad and negative things about ourselves. If we continue on the road to self hate we will never find the wonders and love of being happy with who we are as people and what we look like presenting ourselves to the world. It is and will forever be a constant battle for anyone who is having trouble finding the confidence to be who they are and accepting what their body is. You have the power to change the outcome but it will not be easy, the road will be bumpy and you will lose your fate and will from time to time, but the end of the journey will be worth the heartache.