As Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I wanted to make a post about the most important type of love: self-love. As flawed human beings, we can sometimes forget to take care of ourselves both mentally and physically. But that’s the thing. How can we expect to love other people if we can’t even love ourselves? In today’s post, I’m going to be a little personal and share my story of self-love and the road to recovery. I hope this can help those of you who are going through similar situations.
At age 10 I wanted to be a model. I wanted to wear beautiful clothes, walk New York Fashion Week, and associate myself with glamorous fashion designers. I became aware of what having an image means. For the 10 year old me, it meant that people projected the best version of themselves to the outside world. Every billboard I saw, every magazine cover, and every celebrity on TV possessed the “ideal” image. They were what everyone should aim to become, including me.
At age 11 I started struggling with my body. I was going through a lot of changes, growing way too quickly. I began to dislike myself. Why wasn’t my skin as clear as the girl on the cover of this month’s Seventeen? Why wasn’t I as skinny as Tyra Banks? Why didn’t I have the flawless confidence that radiated off of Miley Cyrus? This was the year where I became obsessed with my image, the image that reflected off of the mirror each and every day.
At age 13 I weighed 110 pounds and began to rely on diet pills that suppressed my hunger. I didn’t consume much, I gave up on drinking soda, I lied to my parents about eating, and I thought about nothing else but getting thin.
At the age of 14 the terms “thinspiration” and “thigh gap” began to appear on my Tumblr page. I began to collect images of thin girls who I aimed to become. I watched countless Youtube videos on work-out routines, mesmerized by the transformation of “fat” girls turning “skinny”. It became very apparent that I had developed a mild eating disorder. It wasn’t until age 15 that my mom caught on and convinced me to stop using pills. Quitting was hard as I was so consumed with how others viewed me. As I got thin boys started liking the way I looked. I felt like I had achieved some sort of accomplishment. Little did I know life wasn’t that simple, that The Pressure to Be Perfect would never die.
At the age of 16 I was asked to model in a local fashion show held by university students. My forgotten dream from the age of 10 resurfaced as I finally got to model for a designer. I was elated, practicing my walk, nailing the pivot turn, and perfecting the art of wearing high heels. Eventually, my feelings of excitement turned into envy. Dress rehearsals began and as I looked around the room, there were girls who I thought were skinnier than me, prettier, taller, had better hair, far more experience at modelling than me. I know it’s silly, nobody was made the same. No “body” was made the same. Yet, why did it affect me so much? When would this cycle end? That’s the thing… it never does. The Pressure to Be Perfect stays with you, creeping into the depths of darkness that resides in you. It makes you do irrational things like take diet pills that probably do more harm than help. It laughs at your insecurities as you compare yourself to others. It teases you, edges you to lose even more weight, to lose even more of yourself. The Pressure to Be Perfect is a monster, no matter what age you are.
At the age of 19, I still model for fashion shows as a hobby and I am still struggling with the Pressure to Be Perfect. She comes in and out of my life as I continue to be exposed to the media’s portrayal of what I should look like. But I’m much better now, because I’ve met a friend that easily defeats The Pressure to Be Perfect. I’ve met Self-Esteem, someone who encourages me to focus on myself instead of others, to respect my body by feeding it healthy foods, to love the sparkle in my eyes and my heart-shaped lips. With my modeling, Self-Esteem has made me realize that people come in all shapes and sizes, not just like the models you see walking the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In my current state, I really hope that the 10 year old me would be proud and consider me as her idea of perfection.