Tips for your journey towards self-love
Ria, 24, shares how her struggle with body image has affected her, and what has helped her on her journey towards self-love and acceptance.
I have always struggled to accept the body I was born in, hating the way I looked, hating who I was. I hated everything about myself. In secondary school I began to feel invisible. I was never seen as one of the pretty girls, or one of the popular girls, or one of the girls that boys wanted to date. I was, as one of my male classmates put it, just ‘their shadow’. These words, as trivial as they may sound destroyed every part of self-confidence I may have had.
From that moment on, I stopped letting anyone take photos of me in fear that I was too ugly and too irrelevant to be photographed. Over the next few years I began ripping myself apart; I became convinced that if I was thinner I would be happier, if I changed my hair to look a certain way I would be happier, if I was anyone other than myself I would be happier.
A fresh start at uni
At university, however, people began to look at me differently. For the first time in my life, I started receiving attention from boys and made new friends who showered me with genuine compliments. Yet I still struggled to accept myself due to the years of self-loathing. My weight fluctuated significantly during my time at university as I battled against periods of heavy starvation as well as periods of excessive binge-eating.
Drinking also acted as a mask for me - a mask that I could hide behind and become the confident person I always wanted to be. I was still battling against my insecure teenage self and I remember at one of my lowest points during university, I consciously scrawled the word ‘ugly’ on my bathroom mirror in lipstick.
Over the summer, however, something changed. One day I looked in the mirror and realised I was no longer that insecure teenage girl. I was an insecure 24-year-old who had, through her crippling insecurities, let years of her life pass her by in fear of being judged on her appearance. That day I made a vow to my reflection, to not let the next ten years pass me by like the last due to extreme self-consciousness.
My tips for beginning your journey towards self-love
I recommend to anyone battling any form of insecurities to start to keep a journal. One of the first things I started to do was every morning I would make a body gratitude list. I think back to everything my body has done for me and allowed me to do. By doing this, I am able to envision a time when I felt genuinely proud of my body and I am able to appreciate everything my body has done and been through.
Taking time out to think and write about my body and my appearance has enabled me to release some of those negative feelings and learn to love and appreciate myself more. Writing is a powerful tool when it comes to expressing how we feel and, as I have learnt, it can be an even more powerful tool for healing.
Find a balance
‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts’ is one of the truest sayings. Beauty is more than just skin deep and learning to love the person you are and emit love and kindness to the world is equally as important. But investing a little time into yourself never hurt anyone. Switching my diet to a more balanced one and getting outside more has really helped give me a boost mentally. I feel more energised and, as a result, I am happier.
Meeting friends, finding a new hobby or even just blasting my favourite Spotify playlist and dancing around my room have all helped occupy my mind and disperse any negative thought pattern I may have.
My journey to accepting my body and my appearance is far from over, and I am sure I am not alone. But one thing I have learnt is that there is no such thing as perfection. Every scar, mark or wrinkle tells a story and they are stories we all should be proud of.
Author: Ria, 24
Where to get help
Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically. Sometimes, we worry about how we look or what our friends think about our body. If you're struggling with body image, we have advice that can help you.