A hard day for my self-image

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

I stare in the mirror, and I notice the changes in my body.

My hips have widened– despite the fact that I have the widest hips of anyone I know. There are another few layers of fat on my stomach, and it jiggles when I jump, when I move. I wear tighter pants, and it pours out over the top like water in a too-full cup just milliseconds from flowing over the rim. The little varicose veins I got genetically are even more spread out now; little dips of cellulite make my skin look uneven. My thighs have gotten bigger, my calves the same. Compared to each other, they are disproportionate in my eyes. My biceps, when my arms hang loose beside my body, press out into more surface area of pale white skin with bumps and bruises. My face has become more round. I have less of a prominent jawline. My cheekbones are shrouded out by extra flesh.

I want to cry.

I have stopped looking in the mirror often, it never made me feel any better to see myself. But here, now, trying on clothes, I am forced to. I have to see what my body looks like when pulling off and putting on garments. What it looks like naturally as I constantly think about how others see me– if they see me the same way I see myself.

I preach self-love and the negation of any opinion of you other than your own, but I am still a human born and raised in the same society you are. I am susceptible to all of the influence. I am just as weak to the judgment.

I used to watch my sister stare at herself in the mirror while trying on pairs of jeans one after another, jeans that had fit just last week, and she just sobbed. She yelled at herself and threw things. I watched the tears fall down her disappointed face, and my heart broke. I didn’t understand. Just get new jeans; what’s the big deal? I didn’t understand how she couldn’t see how beautiful she was. How the extra pounds didn’t matter. How the inches added to her waistline, the chubbiness in her cheeks, the numbers on the scale, it wasn’t important. She was so incredibly gorgeous.

Stop hating yourself, baby, it’s hurting me, I thought.

But it didn’t matter what I thought. She saw what she saw, and her opinion of herself was the only one that mattered.

I didn’t understand.

But I do now, and I’m so sorry.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see that society does have an impact. That self-love is preached and preached, but it does not change the world we grew up in. I understood, I really did, I just didn’t give myself a chance to realize I hated my body too. I just wanted her to know I loved her and her body enough for the both of us.

I always knew I didn’t appreciate my body, I simply never acknowledged it. I didn’t look in mirrors. I don’t have a mirror anywhere in my bedroom. My selfies were very rarely of my whole face, usually just part of it, the part that didn’t look so bad to me. If I needed to provide a picture, I used an older one, one I knew I looked good in.

I hate my body, every attribute and feature about it.

I look at other girls and boys who are considered overweight, girls and boys who aren’t conventionally attractive, girls and boys with rolls and cellulite and chubby faces and big arms and thick thighs, and I think they are so incredibly beautiful. I root for them every day because they are gorgeous regardless of what society tells them on a daily basis.

Our problem as humans is that we can recognize and have compassion for other people, to see that weight doesn’t matter in terms of looks, but we can’t find it in ourselves to set that same standard for our own bodies.

I can look at you, any of you, with all of your natural beauty- and my god, you are stunning.

But I can’t look in the mirror and see the same.

Getting better isn’t changing until you think you’re attractive all while avoiding your reflection’s glance every day until you get there. It’s loving yourself for what you are, not what you could be.

I am striving every single day to be able to achieve that. But days like these happen far more often than I wish they would, and they are incredibly hard to get through.

It’s a hard day for my self-image, but it is a part of the process of getting better.