By: Rachel Ruff

“Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” – Unknown 

That quote seems simple, but it really struck me, because I am someone who personally struggles to simply love myself. Self love brings an entirely different definition and perception to the idea and concept of love. Each of us are coexisting as individuals that all have some type of insecurity. This topic always holds so much depth to the emotions, feelings and experiences that are attached to body image and self-acceptance. I, like most of you reading, know exactly what I am talking about, because we as humans seem to be aggressively critical of ourselves when the discussion or thought of body-image comes about. I can easily admit that I relate to this ongoing internal battle with myself. This battle we put onto ourselves that we somehow think will help us find self-love or self-acceptance.

Discussions surrounding body image and accepting the skin we are in can be a challenge, and even triggering to some. Social standards and social constructions of what a human is supposed to appear as has saturated a realistic approach to body image. No matter the definition of being “healthy” or not “healthy”, we are all aware of it in our daily lives. Some may be more affected than others, they may be abled or disabled, suffering or recovering from an eating disorder; we are all human at the end of the day. We all deserve to be happy in our own skin and we all deserve to love ourselves. It’s important to remember that if we all ate the same and exercised the same, we would all still have different bodies. Above all, health is not a factor of your self-worth. It is essential to include the discussion and recognize the struggle of how difficult it can be to love and accept yourself on the inside as well as on the outside. Both rhetorics are equally important when it comes to insecurities and even comparison.

The world we live in currently has brought many challenges to this life-long obstacle of self-acceptance we all struggle with to some degree. As many of our normalcy has shifted to new routines or new ways of coping with a pandemic, our lives mentally and physically have shifted as well. First and foremost, it is important to recognize and embrace that that is okay. It is okay to struggle and to feel uncomfortable or negative emotions towards body image or changes in your mental health, now and at any point in your life. We are all on our own unique and individual journey of learning to love and fully accept who we are on the inside and the outside. Most importantly, this journey of self-acceptance is a journey of being gentle to how we view ourselves and others.

The way humans consume social constructs of society can be an extremely sensitive and emotional part of our lives that many of us choose to bottle up inside or process internally. When faced with these struggles, I, like most people, do not know where to go next or what to do to improve my perspective of how I view myself. If anything, I often find myself being my biggest enemy and become victim to my negative thought patterns of comparison and self-doubt. I recognize in my own journey that this process of self-acceptance is a lifelong experience and I believe that I have a long way to go in terms of feeling content with my own perception of myself. 

Although my journey entails years more of inner reflection, I have found that small acts of progress have made my harder days easier and my good days better. Self-image struggles can show up when you least expect it or can be identified through various triggers that are unique to every individual. To put it simply, a reality and a truth I have come to terms with is that life is too short to spend another day at war with yourself. We as a society must come to terms with our imperfections and start seeing them as our small pieces of individuality that represent who we are. It is up to you whether or not you are going to choose to accept it fully and EMBRACE who you are inside and out. It is time to start growing a foundation of love and positivity towards yourself instead of waging an ongoing war of comparison and self-depreciation inside your head. Growth mentally and physically should be celebrated, but that choice is entirely up to you! You have to wake up in the morning each day and make a cognitive choice of how you choose to talk to yourself, what you choose to consume yourself, both physically and online; you must choose to pursue a journey of self-acceptance. 

Here are various ways we as humans can cope day-to-day by focusing on the following:

1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.

2. Recognize you are not at fault. You have nothing to be at fault about.

3. Exchange any shame you have for yourself (and any perceived faults) with forgiveness.

4. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues. Do what you can to heal them; look at them. Give them space. And then let them go.

5. Work towards your ideal vision of your body and mind, not anyone else’s ideal vision. And then give yourself grace. None of us are ideal anything, most of the time.

6. Embrace the individual beauty of your body and your individuality as a person. (Unchain yourself from the media’s conditioning)

7. Show gratitude for your mind and your body.

Your journey is entirely up to you and how you choose to take accountability for the struggles and faults that bring you down. That is your own power that no one can ever take away from you! Please know you are stronger than you think and braver than you know. Moving forward, I have personally committed myself to a lifelong journey of self-acceptance and the first step to that journey was admitting to myself that it is something that needs to be a part of my life, in order to feel secure in my own mind and well being. We are all capable of so much and admitting that to ourselves is the first step in the right direction towards peace and progression in self-acceptance.

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