A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Being Happy in Her Own Skin
This blog was written by Taylor, who believes that there's nothing the right song and a good cup of coffee won't cure. She believes that in this lifetime she is meant to help people; whether that is getting someone through an exam or another day on Earth. Being someone to reach out to and a shoulder to cry on is so rewarding for her. She has recently been accepted into Johnson and Wales dietary nutrition program and is so excited to learn and eventually teach other about a healthy lifestyle.
It took me twenty-one years to realize that I am beautiful inside and out. Every other woman on this Earth is, in our own different way, and that’s the most beautiful thing about it.
We come in all different shapes and sizes, because we are not meant to all look the same. Not all of us will bare that hourglass figure or those Kim Kardashian curves we so long for, but Bob Marley had it right when he said, “The best curve on a woman’s body is her smile.”
As women, we face so much ridicule over our bodies. A great portion of the commercials on television are targeted towards women who “need to lose 10 pounds fast” and the tabloids are splashed with exploitation of celebrities who apparently do not look so hot in their bikinis this season. The media has the vision of beauty distorted to an unfathomable level.
My outlook on life and body image did not come overnight. It took a lot of self-talk in front of the mirror, saying “You are beautiful, you look great, be proud of the skin you are in.” For as long as I can remember, my body has been subject to commentary from friends, family, girls, boys, fellow students, and even strangers alike. I know all too well how it feels to walk past a group of pretty, “skinny” girls, hear them laughing, and get that sinking feeling in your stomach because you're convinced they're laughing about you.
School years were definitely some of the hardest years of my life. I had to shop in the women’s department of stores because clothes for girls my age were too tight. I started developing stretch marks along my stomach in the 6th grade. Yet, I was still content allowing food to lessen the blow of the names people would call me when I passed by.
By the time middle school and high school came around, every girl I knew started to get super body conscious, including me. I was certain that if the girl who wore a smaller size thought she was fat, then she thought my larger size jeans made me enormous. I remember specifically going from eating everything in sight, and sneaking food, to rationing one food item for myself for the whole day. So I stopped eating at school and would only eat dinner at home, if I wasn’t feeling “fat” that day, of course.
Let me set this straight right now: this is terrible for your health. Your body goes into starvation mode, and every time you do decide to eat something, your body will in turn hold onto every calorie of that and store it as fat because it doesn’t know when it will eat again.
As senior year rolled around I should have been happier than ever. I’d finally be graduating high school and getting away from the cruel jokes that I’d become so accustomed to. Instead, I was dealing with emotional turmoil, depression that landed me in the hospital twice, anxiety, an abusive relationship and lastly, my biggest critic: myself.
This was the year I could have, and very nearly did end it all. I was miserable. I was never satisfied when I looked in the mirror and God forbid anyone tagged me in a full body photo on Facebook or any other social media network. I was mortified.
This was the year I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. I decided to work on accepting myself, for myself, by myself. It is very important to tackle one obstacle at the time so you do not get discouraged, and be sure to acknowledge your progress every step of the way.
First thing for me was getting out of the relationship that I was in. Despite all of the abuse I had endured for two years, one thing had really stuck out to me. If someone ever tells you “You’re not doing this because you’ll get confident and leave me” you do just that and get confident. No one has the right to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Any type of abuse from a significant other is unacceptable, for men and women alike. Leaving that person is a lot easier said than done, and some people have situations that will make it even harder for them to get out. Ending an abusive relationship is best for your overall mental and physical health. When you start to see any red flags from a significant other, this is the best time to address and act on them before it gets too late, and your well-being is in danger.
In the following months, it was all about my mental health. That meant, under my doctor's supervision, weaning myself off of the anti-depressants and anxiety pills that had been my go-to “fix it all” for as long as I could remember. I was ready to feel like myself and start living again. If you’re taking any medication like this and wish to wean yourself off of it, it’s best to minimize health risks and do so by doctor’s orders.
I slowly started to realize that I could not let my happiness depend on other people. It was time for me to start having my own back, time for me to find myself, find out what really puts a smile on my face. I started doing things out of my comfort zone, little by little. I am a firm believer that you are exactly what you think of yourself, acknowledging your own strengths will only help and motivate you to be the best you you can be at the end of the day.
Hesitantly hiding behind an oversized t-shirt, I took to the gym to start my journey. It doesn’t matter what size your yoga pants are as long as you’re in there working towards a healthier you. I hate the word “diet” because it’s so constricting, but I decided to make a “lifestyle change”, and made adjustments slowly with the help of my doctor. I still eat what I want, but in moderation. Everything in life is about balance; I should know- my astrological sign is Libra. Making the smallest change like drinking more water can make the biggest difference.
I didn’t change my life for an ego boost from bystanders. I did it to feel good in my own skin. I did it so the scars on my body would have a purpose rather than shame. I did it because I am stronger than mental illness, because I wanted to live, because I’m on this planet for a reason. We were all put here to become the best version of ourselves. Your body is your temple. It’s the only one you’ll ever have. Eat to live. You will only be free when you don’t need validation from anyone else, and you will be the most feared woman on the planet. Stop comparing yourself to other people and start comparing yourself to the person you were yesterday. You’re not alone. You’re beautiful.