This is for all the women who are learning to love themselves after gaining weight.
I love seeing women show their before and after pictures after losing their unwanted weight. However, I think we also need to see women show their progress in other forms of self love.
Over the past three years I’ve gained more weight than ever before. At the beginning I hated the way I was starting to look, but at the time I could do nothing about it. My battle with depression had returned, and I was busy with school, work, and meetings from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. I was too busy keeping myself sane and alive.
My health continued to deteriorate. I’d never been one to eat extreme amounts of junk food so it was clear this was something much bigger than I could handle on my own.
At first, comments like “oh, you look different,” “you seem a little chunkier lately,” and my favorite one, “I have a diet you could try,” made me feel insecure and ashamed. I wished I could’ve explained the battle I was fighting and that sometimes even getting out of bed was a hard enough. I wished they understood, but how could I have asked for their validation and understanding when I didn’t even do that for myself?
Before, I’d never really cared what others thought about me, but rather what my family and I thought. I needed to remind myself of that. I was only going to continue to dislike myself if I continued to listen to negativity instead of the voice inside me telling me I was good enough.
The picture on the left was taken at the beginning of my college career. Back then, I constantly found something wrong with my image. The way I felt about myself was more negative than anything else. I thought I was “fat” and had plenty of insecurities. I had an idea of what my body needed to look like and I was never pleased. I look back now and laugh at how silly I was.
In the picture on the right, there’s a woman who loves herself more than you can imagine. For the first time in my life, I accept and truly love my body. I may not look the way I wish I did, but I’m not losing sleep over it anymore because my weight will not change who I am as a human being.
Too often, we walk around this world paying attention to the way we look as if that’s going to get us that degree, job, friend, or happiness.
As my college graduation approaches, I’m starting to analyze all the wonderful things I’ve been able to accomplish, the places I’ve visited, and the friendships I’ve made. None of them had anything to do with my weight, but rather my personality, determination, and passion.
We must celebrate ourselves and our beauty the way we celebrate academic and life achievements. Wake up every morning and smile at the beautiful face on the other side of the mirror. Allow yourself to feel pretty in leggings and a long t-shirt after pulling an all-nighter, or when dressing up for a night out with friends after a long week of deadlines and commitments.
Learning to love ourselves and the body we were given is definitely a tough and long process. In my case, I got tired of hating myself and letting my weight pull me back when I’ve never allowed anyone to do that. I had become my biggest hater and that made no sense to me.
Being a woman on a college campus is hard work. Overcoming obstacles and boosting our confidence levels is a tough process, especially when we add identities like being a woman of color, queer, with disabilities, and Muslim into the mix.
I don’t know what you or I will look like a year from today. However, I am sure that we will be happy with who we are and the type of women we continue to grow into.
Learning to love myself (and I mean truly love myself) did not happen overnight. I had to hit the reset button plenty of times and start again.
You will have plenty of time to work on your post-graduation shape, but don’t hurt yourself by not acknowledging your worth at this very moment.
Women, we are intelligent, resilient, and one of a kind. If the future is in fact femme, then we have got to embed this type of love our minds, hearts, and souls.
Loving the way our body looks, regardless of the number that appears on the scale, will liberate us and allowed us to be fearless, outgoing, and most importantly, happy.