How I'm Learning to Love My Body & How You Can, Too
By Vanessa Palencia
Stretch marks, butt dimples, stomach rolls, and a few scattered pimples. These are just a few of the many supposed flaws marked on my body. They were the reason you’d never see me sport a two-piece bathing suit or extremely fitted clothing. They marked my self-worth. They were the reason I had self-image issues, but they’re also the same reason why I’ve decided to join the cause in helping many other women love and accept themselves just the way they are.
A few years ago, I never would have believed you if you told me that I’d be talking about my body and helping others come to terms with theirs because a few years ago, my mental health was on a serious decline. Granted, I’d have moments where I’d be confident. I’d rock a tight top and a pair of skinny jeans and walk like I owned the floor, but my beauty, my self-worth, and my value were in the hands of people I’d never met. If I didn’t see anyone looking my way, then I’d question my body and whether I was good enough or not. I was convinced that a woman’s beauty was defined by her ability to make every man’s head turn. And if I didn’t accomplish that, then I needed to fix myself.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I embarked on this journey, but I do recall knowing that the only way I would ever obtain true happiness was by embracing every aspect of myself. That’s one of the first and most important steps you need to take before you can learn to love your body in its entirety. But then again, I’d assume that you’d know that, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this.
If you grew up with a TV in your home, then you were probably bombarded with commercials and ads that marketed beauty products, such as anti-aging creams or fat-burning pills. Whatever product you saw, you went away with the message that your body wasn’t good enough, that you needed these products to make yourself better. Well, good news. You don’t. You were taught to think that your body is something that needs to be fixed, but these products were made to make a profit off of women’s insecurities.
Once I realized this, I started to learn to appreciate my body. I started to understand that bodies weather and age as it lives life to its fullest potential. The wrinkles near my mouth are evidence that I laughed in this lifetime. The freckles on my nose show that I spent time under the sun. The stretch marks on my belly are proof that I bore life into this world. I realized that the very things we associate with as ‘flaws’ are merely signs that we have lived on this earth, yet the beauty and diet industries want to create insecurities from these and make money off of it. Do you realize how wrong that is?! It was seriously one of the biggest eye-openers for me.
But unfortunately, understanding this concept wasn’t my automatic ticket to loving and accepting my body completely because knowledge isn’t power. It’s the application of knowledge that gives you power. So in order to undo everything you’ve learned about beauty and self-image, you have to practice awareness. That’s why I do a variety of mindset work on a daily basis to create a strong mentality to protect myself against the constant flood of deceptions and false advertisements thrown my way. I meditate to clear any negative thoughts I have about myself, I counter any self-degradation with empowering thoughts and kindness, and I immerse myself in the self-love and body positive community to educate and surround myself with other powerful and like-minded women. I do this on a daily basis because there’s a constant stream of diet propaganda telling me that I’m not good enough. But that’s exactly what it is, it’s propaganda. It’s misleading information designed to persuade you to do something, and I’m not going to fall for it. And neither should you. So between understanding the way diet culture works and replacing self-destructive thoughts with wholesome ones, I'm learning to love my body completely. But the best part is, you can too.
Remember, your body's a work of art. It is a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece that no one else can replicate. Your body showcases beauty in every aspect, so we need to learn to embrace ourselves and love our bodies completely because there is nothing wrong with it. Your body is worthy of your love and care, so don’t let the diet and beauty industries convince you otherwise.