Despite society's unsolicited opinions on the matter.
I learned from a young age, as many girls do, that society expected me to hate my own body.
And for a long time, I bought into that lie.
I was chubby in junior high school and felt inadequate next to the athletic, skinny, popular girls in my class. I had no friends and was lonely and upset to be alone, so I turned to food for comfort.
Food didn’t judge me. Food was always there for me when I needed it.
As a result, I ballooned even bigger than before, and my self-esteem just continued to spiral downward.
The sadder I felt, the more I ate. The more I emotionally ate, the worse I felt about myself. It was a vicious cycle.
“No one is ever going to want me. Look at the state of me.”
I convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy of love, and would likely have to settle in massive ways if I didn’t want to end up alone.
Because in my early teens, the prospect of ending up alone forever was an absolute nightmare and I might as well be dead if that turned out to be the case.
And that was obviously a positive foot to start on as I journeyed into womanhood.
Settling for less than I was worth.
So when an interested party with a lovely British accent (and innumerable red flags) came along, I jumped without a second thought.
Take that, popular girls from school! In your face. I bet your boyfriend doesn’t have a sexy English accent.
And damn, was he ever-charming as hell. And he had chosen me.
Of course, he was my first boyfriend, so I was blind to just about everything and anything that resembled a warning sign, red flag, etc. etc.
I was a conquest to him. Nothing more.
I shifted the toxic dialogue.
I decided to claim my own dialogue. I was fresh out of an emotionally abusive (and by the end, physically as well) relationship with an ex who was very clearly trying to create me into his preference of beauty and didn’t give two shits about my say in the matter.
I was tired of being told how I was supposed to look and dress and feel about myself.
This breakup was a new start for me — I was going to make up my own rules. So, I started thinking:
What if I was my own standard of beauty?
Wouldn’t that make me the most beautiful woman alive, in my own eyes?
Let’s change the conversation — for all of our sakes.
What if all women saw themselves as their own standard of beauty? Then wouldn’t we all feel beautiful and enough and as worthy as we truly are?
I got to work, knowing I had decades of effort ahead of me, but right now was always a great place to start. So I pinpointed my biggest insecurity: my ever-present, never fading, muffin top.
I was so vile and horrible to that poor thing.
Squeezing it and tugging at it and stretching it out in front of the mirror, always with a look of distaste on my face. If I could condition myself to love my “dreaded muffin top”… I could theoretically love anything about my body, right?
So I started exclusively referring to my excess belly skin as my “Adorable Muffin Top”. That was its name, and that was the only way I referred to it in conversation.
My second boyfriend following my abusive ex was 2 years later. For our second date, and the day we decide to go official, we were planning a beach day. He texted me saying something along the lines of:
“I’m just warning you, I have a lot of body hair”.
And I replied back with, “And I’m just warning you, that’s completely okay. Plus, I’ll be wearing a bikini today, and I have the most Adorable Muffin Top you’ll ever see in your whole damn life.”
We can come to a place of understanding that you yourself may not think that my Adorable Muffin Top is the most adorable thing you’ll ever see in your damn life, and that’s quite okay.
Because that’s not the point.
The point is that I strive to believe it, and I continue to positive self-talk as much as humanly possible.
It’s 5 years after my crap first boyfriend, and I’m not going to pretend I have this whole “self-love” body image thing figured out.
While I have a generally positive perspective on my body (really like, not love), I’m also getting married in 6 months and am consumed with the “drop 10–15 pounds before the big day” phenomenon. I’m dieting, I’m watching my calories, I’m trying to slim down.
Despite how slim people are already saying I look, I’m still doing it.
Because although my Adorable Muffin Top is cute and dainty on any normal day, I don’t want it being the center of attention on my big day.
But this is sure as hell a better place to be than where I was 5–10 years ago.
So I’m already counting this as a massive success.