Like most people growing up with instant and constant access to the media, I have a specific ideology of what I perceive to be attractive.
I do not fit in with this ideology. I am skinny in the wrong places, and wobbly where I should be toned. Years of acne means my skin is not smooth, and my hooded eyes eliminate winged liner as an option that looks good on me.
I have spent as long as I can remember at war with myself, verbally, physically, psychologically. I've lost count to hours spent in the mirror crying, clawing at myself, disgusted at what I see.
If I'm not pretty, then I am nothing. Despite this not being an indicator of value for my friends, my colleagues, my family, this is how my self-worth is measured.
The last year, particularly on Instagram, there has been a growing trend towards body positivity. People of all shapes and sizes, race, age and appearance, saying "fuck your ideals, I am beautiful and I am strong and I accept who I am". Or along the lines thereof. It's true, they do look amazing - you can see the happiness radiating from them.
Every time I saw a post like this, I'd have a brief moment of happiness for them, followed by a sinking feeling and a little voice telling me that they might be able to accept who they are, but I can't - shouldn't - because I am gross. I am vile, and to accept myself and even love myself would mean I stop challenging myself to be better. Thinner, prettier, longer hair. Cooler. Just better.
The thought of self-acceptance scares me. Would I even be myself if I didn't hate who I am? Much better to continue shaming myself, making myself feel bad, weak, pathetic, ugly. After all, it's true.
I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I woke up and decided I was too unhappy constantly putting myself down. It took a few days for this thought, a little seed, to grow into an actual idea.
I can accept myself. I can love who I am, and still aspire to change.
Even then, it took me a few days to really believe myself. I'd try and be positive, before realising I didn't like anything about myself. And then one day, I woke up, I looked in the mirror and instead of pointing out my flaws, I said out loud what I like about myself.
I am a (self-proclaimed) good writer.
My interior design taste is sick.
I survived having an alcoholic, neglectful mother, and came out smiling. Mostly.
I have depression but still get up every day and try to better myself.
Despite being wonky, my brows are pretty awesome.
I would do anything for my friends.
I am sassy af.
None of this is dependent on the size of my waist, or if I'm having a bad skin day. I can be a worthy person and not be a 10/10 attractive. I can like who I am.
That day, I treated myself to a coconut latte and I didn't Google the calories. It was refreshing.
Don't get me wrong. I still want to lose weight. I still dislike parts of my body. I'm just embracing the fact that is not the be all and end all of who I am. I'm sure I'll have days I digress but for now, telling myself I am a fucking queen in the mirror before I leave is a pretty good start to joining this whole body positivity thing.
Just don't expect to see bikini pics on my Instagram anytime soon.