WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY BODY?
The first time I heard there was a right and wrong body type I was seven. I was at my house with my friend Emily. I was standing on a chair trying to get something out of the cabinet. She looked up at me and said “I think you’re too skinny”. I remember being very confused. I don’t think I’d ever given much thought to being skinny or fat. I don’t know if I even really knew bodies could be skinny or fat before. It was one of those moments that don’t seem to have a good response. I just looked down at her and said “Well I think you’re just the right size”. My mom apparently overheard this because she told me later how proud she was with how I handled myself. I didn’t think much of it. Why should I care what she thought of my weight? I didn’t think I was too skinny.
Well in middle school I did. Middle school was rough. I don’t know anyone who thrived in middle school. It’s probably best we didn’t—no one wants to peak in middle school. Back then I had a very round face, a very unfortunate haircut that ended just under my chin, which made my face look rounder than it was. I wore wire glasses and was shorter than 90% of my grade. I didn’t like my teeth because I still had a considerable gap in the front. I didn’t smile in pictures because my chubby cheeks would push my eyes shut. I started trying to straighten my hair because I didn’t like the wavy texture it naturally had and I begged my parents to let me dye it because I didn’t like the color either. I went back and forth on whether I liked my nose of not too. I didn’t hate anything about myself, there were just things I didn’t like. I don’t think I ever gave much thought to permanently changing things—I just didn’t like them then. Middle school is when I started getting into fashion. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I would wear bright pants, patterned shirts, loud shoes, statement necklaces, and hats all the time. One outfit I distinctly remember was bright pink pants, a multicolor shirt, clogs, a statement necklace, and a fedora. I was trying, give me a break. I think middle school is around the time I started using fashion as a coping mechanism. If I couldn’t control the way my outfit looked, I could control the way my body looked.
High school was a bit all over the place for me in terms of self-image. I thought I had great self confidence. I thought I was really killing it. I liked the way I looked. I liked how my imperfections, like my slanted nose and my crooked jaw, made me unique. I learned to love having small boobs. I started smiling in pictures. I loved me. Doesn’t mean I had good self esteem. My sophomore year is when I developed my two pronged thesis. Loving the way you look is only half of self-confidence. Believing other people love the way you look is the other half. I really sucked at this half. I thought I was saying “I love me”. Instead I was saying “I love me, even if other people don’t”. I realized this when one of my friends and I were walking around after school. We were on our way to rehearsal when we got cat-called by an entire sports team. I don’t know what sport they played. That’s not really relevant. When we got to rehearsal, she told everyone the two of us got cat-called. I remember wanting to tell her “no sweetie that wasn’t for me”. It wasn’t until probably 6 months later I realized what crap that was. Why couldn’t they be catcalling me? What was so undesirable about me that they wouldn’t catcall me? This sort of sounds like I’m pro catcalling. I’m not. Please treat people with respect.
So here I am, over a decade after my first run in with body confidence. I think I can confidently say I have good self confidence right now. Not perfect. I don’t know if anyone has perfect self confidence. The important thing is to try. I fully embrace the sentiment fake it until you make it. I just started acting like I was confident about my body. I stopped looking for flaws in my appearance. I don’t know when we all got really into self-deprecating humor but it might be smart to go light on the jokes sometimes. I started actively looking for things I like about my body. Soon I didn’t have to think about it, it just came naturally. I don’t find it hard to find things I like about my body anymore. I really love the way I look. So yeah, fake it until you make it. Love your body. Understand others will love your body. And also no catcalling.
Author: Kiersten Leigh
Bio: Kiersten Leigh McAdoo is an Integrated Marketing Communications student studying at Ithaca College. She loves feminism, positivity, and cool content.
Link to social media or website: http://kierstenmcadoo.wixsite.com/aboutme