“Look at yourself in the mirror.”
“That chubby face. Speaking of face, look at those pimples around your cheeks. That flabby belly. Those massive thighs.”
“No wonder no girls likes you. No wonder they go for other guys. Those guys are more masculine and handsome than you are.”
I stood in front of the mirror. Tears rolled down my cheeks. My body was trembling as I stared at it in disgust.
Displeasure and anger slowly gathered in strength in my heart. A powerful wave of negative energy tried to overwhelm me. My throat felt tight. I could not take in a deep breath; my mind was racing in desperation.
If only I could have the perfect set of physical characteristics. Tall, fit, muscular and fair. If only my body was free from imperfections.
She would not have dumped me. We would still be smiling at each other. The plans we have crafted for a future together intact and vibrant.
I fell to the ground, crying and shaking involuntarily. Blaming my imperfect appearance for all the agony, the intolerable suffering, my tattered life.
I had always been anxious about my body and how it presented itself to everyone, be it friends or strangers. Now, however, I denounced it for failing me, ruining my life. Judged all its blemishes and cursed its unattractive features that were not worthy of being loved.
I hated my body, and that is how it started.
The Miserable Consequence of Fighting My Own Body
In the weeks after my girlfriend abandoned me back in 2013, negativity consumed me.
I was furious at her for choosing another man over me, and I pummelled myself up for not noticing the affair earlier. Negative thoughts about my imperfect body and unattractive qualities circled in my mind with no end in sight.
I was obsessed with the improvement of my appearance. I cut my hair, exercised like an athlete preparing for a competition tomorrow, and changed my wardrobe. I considered changing my hairstyle, but I feared being judge by others. I even went as far as getting a laser mole removal treatment to get rid of the mole that was situated right below my right eye.
And I deprived myself of delicious food, forwent sleep to have more time to research how to build a perfect body obsessively every day. Hunger, discomfort and fatigue, I disregarded them all because I was fighting against time. I was keen on making my body better—slimmer, fitter, more muscular, more attractive. I would never allow it to let me down again.
And my body soon responded to the verbal and physical torment. Within a few weeks, I experienced bowel issues, frequent headaches and persistent abdominal pain. I was so obsessed with finding ways to improve my physical presentation that I drank little water. Consequently, dehydration has not only left me feeling lethargic, but it also has worsened the skin condition on my face, making the pimples and acne scars more profound.
My body and I were in a battle. I knew I could not carry on like this. I had to come to a peaceful consensus with the way I looked. I had to accept my body for what it was to reacquire a green bill of health, regain my emotional composure and preserve my sanity.
For months, I forced myself to look in the mirror and reconcile with every aspect of my body. I reasoned with myself that the unsuccessful relationship had reached its end, and my physical appearance did not influence the outcome. I shed tears as I tried to forgive myself for every flaw and imperfection I could think of.
Over time, I could observe myself and live with what I saw. Free from resentment, judgement or guilt. Free from self-objection, it became increasingly more effortless to look after my body, and my health improved together with my opinion of my appearance.
I thought I had learned to love my body, no matter what. However, I was far from right.
Accepting Your Body Is Not The Same As Loving Your Body
For many years now, my body and I lived on peaceful terms with each other. I could stroll past a mirror without scrutinising myself and observe myself without guilt, hate or anxiety. I had found a loving girlfriend who frequently told me how gifted I was. And I believed that she really meant it. For the significant part of it, I was confident with my looks.
However, things changed when I was exercising for months. I started to climb up the weighing scale, and the notorious body-shaming cycle returned.
Initially, I did not take much notice of it. I thought that I keep my girlfriend at a distance because I was too busy running errands. However, in actual fact, I felt too self-conscious and ashamed to allow her to witness my body that went out of shape. I deluded myself into thinking that my life was filled with too many obligations to meet up with friends. However, I just did not want them to think, “Goodness grief, he has put on some serious weight.”
I believed that I had consumed so much sweet stuff and fast food because I had no time to cook from scratch. In actuality, I was punishing my body for its imperfections. I had made great efforts to come to terms with my appearance. Now, however, my new, altered body had once again turned into a foe. I despised its ugliness for disappointing me again.
The reason being back in 2005, I actually did not accept my body for what it was, embracing all its shortcomings. Instead, I deemed my body as “just not good enough” and assured myself that, despite those shortcomings, I could live with the specific looks of the body I possessed back then.
Things changed, however, when I started to gain weight, and my body changed. The acceptance I once had with my body faded away because I never learned to love my body.
The Actual Reason You Should Love Your Body
As I scouted for ways to genuinely love and accept my body, I discovered what a miracle the human body is.
Countless cells work together in synergy to complete millions of tasks that ensure survival. Day after day, they inform each other via chemical, electrical and hormonal mechanisms to regulate, digest, filter, breathe, defend and regenerate.
The heart beats roughly 42 million times annually, pumping over 2.7 million litres of blood. Bones, ligaments, joints, muscles, tendons and cartilage perform as one, controlled by the nervous system, to allow us to stand, walk, sit and jump. It takes the coordinated effort of around 100 muscles to say “Hello!” alone.
Yet, we are mostly oblivious to our body’s daily achievements. It functions in the background—tireless, loyal and dependable, expecting no favours in return.
As a health enthusiast, I understood how bodily functions were carried out to maintain life. Theoretically, at least. However, I had never truly comprehended what my body did for me every passing second. My body offered me life and served me faithfully. It enabled me to experience the sunshine and all this world’s gifts and blessings. It allowed me to love, laugh, cry and contribute.
Despite that, instead of feeling blessed, I neglected it, deliberately compromised its efforts to maintain my health, and threw nothing but negative shades at it. Instead of enjoying the miracle that it was, I reduced it to its outer form and denounced its looks as unforgivable.
Despite recognising what an incredible marvel of creation my body was, I still could not look past my body’s exterior looks. Why did I believe my body was somehow flawed? Why was it so hard to love and embrace it?
Beauty Is Not The Eye Of The Beholder
As I delved into it more deeply, I began to comprehend that I had played the victim card. Throughout my life, I was inundated with established definitions of beauty. Every TV series, movie and beauty magazine pointed out the standards that need to be met to be good-looking.
Each commercial, billboard and fashion magazine suggested how I had to look to be acceptable. They came up with beauty, attractiveness, and physical perfection as criteria for lifelong joy, success and love.
Society appeared to prescribe certain measurements for every component of the human body. A certain height, hip-to-wait ratio and weight defined a well-made body. Symmetrical qualities, perfect skin and full lips form an eye-catching face. Every scar, lump, blemish or departure from the ideal body proportions shattered all prospects of ever being desirable.
I had unwillingly given my mind the consent to become conditioned and embraced society’s definition of beauty. I thought that being ugly for the rest of my life would be my fate because I did not fulfil the criteria. I hugged the fact that beauty will never be within my reach because my body shape did not make the cut. I felt like a failure for possessing so many physical shortcomings.
Currently, however, it came to my realisation that the society-imposed requirements were haphazard. The looks I longed for was a set of unconsciously selected dimensions, arbitrary proportions, and questionable features. Constantly evolving according to the trends and hypes sparked and controlled by the media as well as the large beauty and fashion players.
Nevertheless, I bowed to them. I remained obsessed with my appearance and compared myself to celebrities who photoshopped themselves to make them look better in images. I criticised myself for having excessively broad hips and a chubby face.
However, these qualities were beyond my jurisdiction, genetically decided by the miraculous fusion of my parents’ DNA. My body was so much more than its looks, and I was so much more than my physique.
Hence, why was it so vital for me to be as “Mr Perfect” as possible?
The Actual Reason We Seek Beauty And Perfection
After going back and forth between loving and hating my body, I came to a revelation: beauty was nothing but an artificial concept. A random illusion stamped in our mind by constant conditioning.
Yet, I sought to be attractive. I went over every single detail of my body’s appearance. I wanted the approval of others about my looks. The reason was low self-worth.
For most of my life, I felt inferior to others. I thought that I was born to be worthless. Nevertheless, I believed that to attain happiness and meaning in life, I had to be worthy of them. I had to have worth.
So I committed my life to accumulate as much worth as I can. Yet again, society had stringent requirements to fulfil to be worthy of what I wanted. Materialistic possessions, prestigious qualifications, an abundance of wealth and other people’s approval increased my worth and, indirectly, my beauty.
The more flawless and perfect a person is, the more worth they acquire from society’s perspective. That said, my unremarkable looks were not adequate enough, thus scarring me with a depressing worth deficit. Because not being good-looking made me worth less than others. Unworthy of a joy-filled life, unqualified of a loving relationship. There was nothing I could do to change that mentality.
Or so I thought.
The Irony Of Our Obsession With Beauty
I had been stuck in a saddening loop for what seems like ages. I wanted a life gifted with joy and love. To attain that life, I had to be worthy. However, I could not be worthy because of my physical shortcomings. Possessing those physical shortcomings meant I did not come close to even fulfilling one of the requirements.
That is why I could never cherish my body. Because it sentenced me to a miserable, worthless life full of sorrows, frustrations, and agony. However, all my self-loathing, self-sabotaging and the absence of the ability to love and accept myself were based on a mesh of false statements.
The truth is, beauty is nothing but a myth—a stochastic set of society-implemented criteria. And not belonging in the narrow range of qualifying measurements does not make us worthless.
Our worth does not rely on beauty, acceptability, reputation or other people’s endorsement. It is an integral part of who we are—an intrinsic, absolute feature of our being.
We are worth personified, every single one of us.
Each of us equally deserves to smile and be loved. Regardless of what we look like, where we stand on the height chart or what our weighing scales tell us.
Our physique will never alter anything about our worth. Our flaws and imperfections cannot sweep away our deservedness. Excess weight would not make us feel less confident of ourselves, nor would it make us feel more inferior than others.
Because we never were worthless. Nor will we ever be.
How To At Long Last Be In Love With Your Body
After these life-changing revelations, I went to work to improve my self-worth and recalibrate my perspectives about what it means to be desirable.
I must have repeated the affirmations “I am worth” and “I am in love with and approve of myself” numerous times. I overlooked my mind’s resistance to the new paradigm and forgave myself when I reverted into old self-loathing habits for a brief period. I endured.
I kept telling myself that our commonly adopted notion of beauty was society-implemented, arbitrary and baseless. My body was a miracle, regardless of whether its outer qualities achieve the criteria. Hence, beauty was not a prerequisite for loving it or for my worthiness as a human being.
As mind my slowly acclimatised to the new mentality, I started to cherish my body as a beautiful part of the infinitely worthy being I was. I unchained myself from the misdirected lies I used to bow to.
I am in a loving relationship with my body now. We work as one. I listen to its needs and allow it to care for me.
Every day, I thank it for being unique and keeping me alive. When my body is weak or in pain, I treat it with tender loving care instead of condemning it for being delicate or disappointing me.
I discontinued the habit of looking in the mirror and examining my imperfections. The only thing I see in the mirror is a miracle, life and worth.
Beauty is not confined to selected individuals who coincidentally fulfil society’s requirements to be physically outstanding. It is an illustration of the marvel of human existence. Beauty lies within all of us.
Your body is a miracle. You are worthy.