No matter your age, race, gender identity, or body type, there’s a good chance you’ve looked in the mirror and dealt with some degree of insecurity or poor body image. For me, it became an everyday occurrence: looking at myself was a chore, and my Google search history was plagued with links to obscure weight loss tricks and online calorie counters.
During the first few months of COVID-19 lockdowns, my perception of myself was at an all-time low. With the switch to a more sedentary lifestyle, my social media feeds were populated with at-home workouts and healthy recipes — every one a reminder that, despite there being a global pandemic, getting rid of my love handles was still the highest priority. Oftentimes, though, the things you need come when you least expect them. That was definitely the case when one day, while mindlessly scrolling through TikTok, I heard a voice say something like: “We only have one life in this body, on this earth, so why would you waste time hating yourself?”
Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t even begun to cope with there being a global f*cking pandemic, but this one line was exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been overweight pretty much my entire life, and everything I heard from those around me made me believe that, once I was “skinny,” everything would miraculously fall into place. Looking back on it, I realize that this is no way to live — and that the idea that being thin equates to being happy is a trap that I, like so many others, fell into.
Up until the moment I saw that TikTok, my daily thoughts on everything from picking an outfit to making breakfast were centered on what would make me look the most thin or help me lose the most weight. I realized then that this was a waste of time. Why, instead, wouldn’t I focus on picking the outfit that makes me feel best, and listen to what my body wants to eat? This shift was absolutely huge for me: life is incredibly short, and it was time to stop constantly engaging in negative self-talk and start living for myself and my goals.
Life is unpredictable, and we deserve to live every day feeling worthy and valuable in the bodies that we’re given.
Everywhere we look, thinness is worshipped, from clothing campaigns to TV show characters. And although there has been a significant push within the past few years to expand body representation in media, we aren’t done yet. The reality is that people of different body types, ages, ethnicities, races, and abilities are largely underrepresented in all forms of media, regardless of their gender identity. This harsh reality is one of many factors that contribute to low self-confidence. When you don’t see yourself represented, you feel like you need to conform to what society deems acceptable.
Until the world changes, whenever I’m struggling with self-esteem, I always come back to that insight from TikTok. Life is unpredictable, and we deserve to live every day feeling worthy and valuable in the bodies that we’re given.