In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, this installment of the fashion column is going to be a little different.
Body image is such a huge part of the fashion industry — too big of a part, in my opinion. Every day, women are throttled with images of thinny-thin girls, most of whom are prepubescent, and they have it engrained in their brains that they need to look exactly the same if they want any part of society to recognize them as being human.
We are taught that perfection means disappearing, and that the smaller you are, the more people will love you. As a lady who has struggled with disordered eating for the past seven years, I’m finally learning to love my body — not just for how it looks, but for what it can do to keep me alive.
So instead of tips to stay on top of the trends this week, I want to share with you my mini-guide for learning to appreciate everything your body is and does. Because with that self-love comes a sense of confidence, which is something more stylish and timeless than any other tip I can give you.
Clear your mind
Find something to do that makes you feel your absolute best while you’re doing it. If yoga is your thing, do it for 10 minutes every morning to feel good for the rest of the day. If you love running, lace up your shoes and head outside for an instant pick-me-up. If you have a creative streak, do your thing, whether it’s composing, drawing or waxing poetic. The most important thing is to find something that you want to do because it makes you feel great — you won’t love yourself any more if you force yourself to run every day when it’s the bane of your existence or if yoga makes you fall asleep every time you try it. Personal meditation methods are different for everyone.
Use daily mantras
Yes, they are as cheesy as it gets, but the things you say to yourself have more impact than anything anyone else could say, so you need to make sure you’re speaking and thinking as positively as you can. This doesn’t have to be some New Age, mystical mumbo-jumbo you don’t even understand — it should be what you love about yourself in the simplest of terms, said in a way that makes the most impact on the rest of your day. Tell yourself you love that you can make people laugh. Let yourself know that you’re grateful your legs can carry you throughout the entire day. Make it a point to compliment each and every single freckle on your face. Change it up every day, and start giving yourself the love you deserve.
Don’t strive for perfection
Those pictures you drool over in magazines are not real and never will be. The Photoshop techniques used to produce those inhuman creatures we call people are digital poison destroying any idea of reality we have. Everyone has pores; everyone has bad hair days. If you have to take a hiatus from looking at any media in general, do that — it’s important to recognize that these people represent an unachievable ideal. Your imperfections are what MAKE you perfect and what make you, you. Learn to love them and you will be on the way to a much happier place.
You will still have bad days, and you will still sometimes feel like everything about yourself is wrong — we’re only human and are bound to fall back down sooner or later. It’s important to keep a smile even when this happens, no matter how hard it may be, and fight to get back up. Smile because you know you’re on your way to body peace, even if there are a few bumps in the road. Smile because it makes others smile with you. Smile because you look fabulous.
The journey to absolute love for yourself is long and one you’ll probably be on for the rest of your life. But each and every time you have a triumph against that little voice in your head telling you that you need to shrink and that you’re not good enough, you’ll get stronger. And remember — the strongest, happiest people are so much more stylish than anyone else.
Wear what you want, and love who you are.