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body talks


Feeling confident in your own body is not easy. The more I grow up and the more people I meet, the more I realise that we’re all in for a journey to self-acceptance. To be honest, I would say that mine has been more like a hike than a casual stroll. All jokes aside, I always aspired to be one of those girls that exude confidence and are just naturally pretty, so much so that their beauty can’t be questioned. Quite the opposite, I’m clumsy, shy and I get insecure pretty easily. Not to mention that since a young age I was taught by my family, friends and peers that I shouldn’t be too confident, too cocky, because even though society places a great value on physical appearance, vanity is something to be ashamed about (mind the irony). That idea was inculcated in my mind and even though being humble doesn’t necessarily correspond to hating your body, it still limits you from celebrating it. There’s only so much room for loving yourself but it seems like there’s no limit for self-denigration, unless of course, it leads to a disorder.


The first time I felt insecure about the way I look, I was around nine years old. As I was sitting on my bed, I gazed down and realized that my belly was sticking out. I remember that moment so distinctly — it was just the first of many self-hate occasions. From that moment on, I understood that it was a common thing to criticize your body instead of embracing it. I started paying attention to how negative self-talk is normally accepted whereas positivity is criticised under the false assumption that there’s always room for improvement and that you could always look better than you do now.


Growing up, insecurity followed me around like a shadow. I was so concerned about the way I looked that I made sure to check myself on every reflective surface I passed by. I wasn’t doing it because I liked my reflection, but because I was bothered by the idea that I wasn’t attractive enough and that people would judge me for it. I only began building some self-esteem when I was eighteen years old. At the time I had just started going to the gym, and losing weight made me appreciate my body more. I think that I was mainly driven by the goal of looking like one of those models I was seeing in the magazines. These magazines which only featured thin models, instead of being entertaining and inspiring were making me despise my appearance. I thought that models represented the pinnacle of beauty and that I had to look like them in order to be beautiful, to feel worthy. This might sound harsh, but back then my value system was solely based on the glossy covers of expensive magazines. Time and sore muscles made me realise that I naturally don’t look like a stereotypical model and I’m slowly learning to appreciate and embrace that.


One of the things that radically changed my point of view was a video which illustrated how we are more compassionate towards others than ourselves. The idea was simple: two friends reading out loud what they thought of their bodies but instead of saying it to themselves, they were directing their comments to each other. The video struck a chord with me and I started wondering “would I be so harsh commenting on other people’s appearances? Or would I focus less on their “flaws” and more about what I actually like about them?”.


Strangely, every time I look at my old pictures I can’t help but ask why I was so hard on myself. After all, I didn’t look that bad and maybe I was just being mean to myself. Yet, sometimes I still catch myself criticizing my body while standing in front of a mirror. I still change my mind so easily: sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling good and confident; other times as I catch a glimpse of myself from an unflattering angle, I can’t help but state some negative comments about the way I look. How can I possibly love and hate myself at the same time? I make up excuses, saying that I’ll feel better once my legs look a certain way and my skin is clearer, forgetting that I’m not embracing the present version of myself. I think that one of the issues is that self-acceptance is considered to be a linear process. On the contrary, I think that it’s actually a path constellated by ups and downs and that it’s completely normal to love your appearance one day and feel less confident the next one.

不思議なことに、昔の写真を見るたびに、私はどうしてそんなにも自分に対して思い詰めていたのか聞きたくなります。結局のところ、当時の私の見た目はそんなに悪くありませんでした。ただ、自分にとても意地悪だったんじゃないかな、と思います。それでも、今でも私は鏡の前に立っている間、自分の身体を批判していることに気づくことがあります。でも私は自分の考えを簡単に変えることができます。目が覚めて気持ちのいい、自分に自信を感じられる朝もあれば、違う角度から自分の姿をみて、自分の見た目についてネガティブなことを言いたくなる日もあります。なぜ私は同時に自分のことを愛し憎むことができるのでしょうか? 私は自分に言い訳をするように「私の足がこういう足になれば、私の肌が綺麗になれば、私は気分がよくなるんだ」と考え、自分の「今」の姿を受け入れることを忘れてしまいます。問題の一つは、自己受容が一直線の道であると考えられているということです。それどころか、自己受容への旅は実際には浮き沈みが密集したものであり、ある日自分自身の見た目を愛したと思ったら、次の日にはその自信を失うのは、とても普通のことだと思います。

Self-acceptance, like self-hating, can be exhausting. After all, focusing so much on my appearance (whether I do it with a good or bad intention) requires a lot of physical and mental energy and I’d rather stop caring about the way I look, stop obsessing over my appearance, stop torturing myself with thoughts like I’ll feel happy once I’ll look a certain way and start having a healthy relationship with my body. I wish that I could wake up one day and be more compassionate towards myself. I wish I could just stop caring about other people’s opinions, but it won’t happen overnight because it’s a work in progress and every day I learn something new and forget something else. Now I know that as long as I’m not accepting myself no change in my appearance will make me feel better. Confidence has nothing to do with the way I look but with the way I feel, and only a good attitude will free me from negative thoughts and self-hate talks.


Maybe the secret of those confident girls I’ve always aspired to be, is simply not caring about other people’s opinions about them. Maybe their beauty cannot be contested because they don’t question it in the first place. Maybe they simply accept themselves for who they are or maybe they’re just better at hiding the inevitable insecurity that comes with being human. Maybe those girls simply don’t exist and are just a fragment of my imagination. I’m not sure but what I know is that I’ll keep aspiring to be the best version of myself, embracing my clumsiness and shyness.


Images by Elisa

Edited by Kiara, Eli and Hikari

Japanese Translated by Hikari

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