Body positivity has taken over the world but that wasn’t always the case. Growing up, this wasn’t the reality I faced. Looking through magazines and watching TV, women always looked the same and had the same type of body: skinny.
I was considered a chubby baby and this carried on until grade school. My parents weren’t too pleased with this and pushed me to lose weight. So, I started running on a treadmill almost everyday. I also started going to a gym and played tennis again.
During this time, however, I felt like they were pushing me to lose weight because of the way I looked and not necessarily for health reasons. They grew up during a different time so I understand where they’re coming from but for a kid, it can have negative effects.
According to a report on Today, “Weight-shaming kids doesn’t encourage healthier habits and can instead hardwire a vicious cycle of binge-eating, skipping meals, and a lifetime of self-loathing.” This is based on a study by Jerica Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School. They stated that parents who encourage their kids to go on diets eventually ended up with eating disorders, and this was passed down to their own children as well. “Parents may think they are helping their children by telling them the hard truth, but even those who manage to lose weight hate their bodies.” And this sounds similar to what I’m going through now.
After losing weight, I did feel more confident but I feel like I became obsessed with looking that way and for the wrong reasons. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good but it should go deeper than that.
Fast forward to college, I was a victim of freshman 15. I gained a lot of weight and was the heaviest I had ever been. My parents didn’t speak up about it anymore but to be honest I hadn’t really noticed the change in my body until I started looking at photos of myself. I was then motivated again to have a certain body and look a certain way.
However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized the negative psychological effects of what I was doing. Every time I started to gain even just a little bit of weight, I would spiral into a self-loathing phase where I didn’t feel good enough.
Recently, I started working out again because I wanted to look good for an upcoming trip. As I started the exercises, I realized how out of shape I was. Not in terms of how I looked but with my strength and endurance. It dawned on me that I should be focusing more on getting healthy and strong instead with a toned body as just a bonus.
Despite being aware of this, I have to admit that it’s still difficult. I still have moments where I feel discouraged by the way I look and start to put immense pressure on myself. But I understand that it’s definitely a learning process and easier said than done. If you’re going through the same thing, don’t be consumed by the negative thoughts that you have. Instead of being anxious, try to use those feelings as inspiration to work on your health. As cheesy as it is, health is wealth so try to focus on that instead of what you see on the outside.
Art by Marian Hukom
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