When you look in the mirror, do you see a positive or negative image of yourself?
The body is beautiful and amazing because it comes in all shapes, colours, and sizes. We are all built differently but many of us forget about that fact. We persistently suffer from the lack of perfection because we constantly compare our bodies to others’, looking for something we don’t have instead of being comfortable with what we do. This continuous negative judgment of our own bodies does not only prevent us from living happier lives, but it can also lead to more destructive medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
When I was younger I used to have really low self-esteem because I was not satisfied with my physical appearance. I grew up as a scrawny little girl, and suddenly grew larger after I hit puberty.
I hated my weight and always got made fun of for being shorter than the other girls. This kind of negative reinforcement pushed me to exercise excessively, so much so that I stopped listening to my body: I once blacked out while running on a treadmill. I became obsessed with getting rid of what others called “flaws” on my own body so that I could feel socially accepted, instead of appreciating and enriching the beauty of myself.
Stripping myself down challenged my negative perceptions and made me embrace my “flaws.”
My fascination with nudism or naturism started when I first started going to Wreck Beach, a clothing-optional beach, and one of Vancouver’s hidden gems. At first, the thought of going nude in public was terrifying, especially for someone not comfortable with their own body.
But having a safe and secluded space like Wreck Beach opened my eyes to how body image should be viewed. With a community that is comfortable enough to happily run or lay around naked in a public beach, anyone who is afraid to leave his or her comfort zone is welcome. I found that stripping down to just my skin challenged my negative perceptions of my body, and made me embrace my “flaws” as a part of me, rather than something that defines me.
There is no such thing as the perfect body: it is a social construct; it is not real. We have to forget about society’s idea of an ideal body because some people are born with eleven fingers, some people have inverted nipples, breast sizes are not always even, and stretch marks are natural. Whatever it is, shaming others for not having an ideal body is not acceptable.
Accepting our own bodies is not easy because we encounter our bodies differently on a day-to-day basis. They change, they grow, they shrink and they become exhausted, but we have to learn not to feel inferior, no matter our appearance. Our goals should not be based on comparing ourselves to others but to work on ourselves.
Develop a healthy lifestyle that is based on positive reinforcement. Celebrate your body; wear your bikini even if your stretch marks show, dress however you want, but never forget to be comfortable in your own skin.