Proud2Bme | The "Bikini Body" Lie: How I Found My Own Truth

The "Bikini Body" Lie: How I Found My Own Truth

By Annie Stewart--Throughout recovery, I have learned that every season has its joys and challenges. However, nothing conjures up body insecurities quite the like the spring and summer months.

I can’t even buy groceries at the supermarket without being reminded about the latest celebrity diet or fitness regime. How do I fight the pressure? How do I withstand the attacks of E.D during this season? By CHOOSING to practice self-acceptance, self-love and redefining my definition of truth. I used to believe that the “truth” was whatever the magazines told me. I used to believe that I had to eat (or not eat) what the magazines told me to eat or wear what the magazines told me to wear. Now I listen to my body, eating when I am hungry and choosing to eat the foods I enjoy. I wear clothing (and yes, even a bathing suit thank you very much!) with confidence; express my personal style through the clothes that I wear.

It has taken a lot of hard work and perseverance but I am finally at the point in my life (although of course everyone has good and bad days!) where I have accepted my body just the way it is—even in the summer months. I have learned that as I accept everything about myself—my history, my personality, my strengths and weaknesses—I also accept my body because my body is a part of who I am. It is not my sole identity, but it plays a part. The question is: what role does it play? To answer that question, I must go back to a summer day when I was thirteen years old. It was during that summer when it became apparent to others that I had lost a considerable amount of weight. I received compliments left and right, but I didn’t feel better. I felt worse because the compliments I received made me think that others’ approval of me was based on my appearance. I distinctly remember looking down at my stomach, and saying to myself, “It’s not enough…”

So what do I glean from this story? As I look back and remember that hot summer day many years ago, I am reminded of how empty the drive for perfection really is. Dieting and looking great in a bikini is not about how you look at all--not really. It is about a deep human need that no diet can fix. It is about what is behind the drive for thinness. I wanted to be thin because I believed thinner people were happier, more secure, more loved and accepted by others. THESE ARE LIES. Nothing could be further from the truth. I felt more depressed as I looked to food and exercise to numb my emotional pain. The more weight I lost, the emptier I felt inside. I was striving to fill my soul with something that would never satisfy.

What helped me begin my journey of self-love and acceptance was when I understood what is behind the messages we see and hear from the media. I now know that the road to attaining perfection is a dead-end. I know that striving to attain the perfect body only leads to feelings of depression and isolation. I used to think that once I was skinny, I would have it all. Yet as I look back on my relationship with ED, I see that I didn’t have anything at all. As I was losing weight, I was also losing myself—my joy, my happiness, my health and my relationships. I believed that once I attained the perfect body, every problem and struggle I once had would be fixed.

I was lied to. We have all been lied to. The media does not want us to love and accept our bodies. They aim to convince us there is something wrong with us so that we will buy the latest product they are selling. Yet, I refuse to give in. I refuse to buckle under the pressure.

I love my body for everything it does for me. I love my body because it has given me life and love and joy. I love my body because it has been to hell and back and yet somehow came out victorious. I love my muscular legs because they remind me of my sweat, of my hard work, of my arduous fights on the athletic fields. I love my hands because it is my hands that create beauty, goodness and light in a world full of suffering. I love my head because it is inside my head where dream are awakened, desires are put into prayers and visions are forged into plans.

I used to embrace whatever my magazines told me as "truth." Do you know what I embrace as truth now? Me. I take pride in every single part of whom I am. I nourish my body, mind and soul every day. I spend time with people who encourage me and make me a better, more fulfilled person. I engage in activities that express who I am as a person, such as going on a hike, reading a book in my favorite coffee shop, spending the morning at a local farmer’s market and walking in a garden and taking pictures of my favorite flowers. By engaging in activities I enjoy, I love myself and am expressing a part of myself to the world.

If there is anything I could say to my former self (and to everyone else struggling to break free of negative body image), I would say this: I’m sorry you have been lied to. The images you see literally aren’t real (as in every single image has been digitally enhanced, altered or manipulated). Do not believe the lies. Embrace your body, and everything you are. You are wonderful in this moment, and who you are in this moment is enough. What you see as your flaws and imperfections only make you more beautiful because they contribute to whom you are. Looking to your body for love and security won’t make you feel more secure. Focusing on yourself and what brings you joy and fulfillment will free you to be at peace with your body. Embrace everything that you are and you will in turn, love your body, as your body is a precious part of who you are.

Related:

Celebrating My Birthdays

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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