You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Not An Apology.
I was ten years old the first time I felt the need to apologize for my body. The first time I felt like I needed to change how I looked in order to please everyone else. At every family gathering, my twenty-five year old cousin would come up to me and say, “너무 말랐어. You’re too skinny. You need to eat! Look at you, you’re too skinny” while grabbing my wrists and waist as if that would get the point across more clearly. I responded every time with a nervous giggle, shaking my head, hoping that she would stop. I dreaded these family gatherings because I expected this every time. And every time I felt the need to apologize for my body. I am sorry.
Fast forward ten years later, I’m four inches taller, three pant sizes bigger than my cousin and she doesn’t say those things to me anymore. Instead, I hear my aunts and uncles tell me that I’ve gained weight since I left for college. I hear, “You look different. You look younger? Older? Is it because you gained weight? Your face looks bigger.” Even after ten years, I still respond the same way. I give a nervous laugh, I smile, I nod. I still feel the need to apologize for my body. I am sorry.
I wonder whether we’d have as many insecurities if others didn’t tell us what they thought about our bodies or whether it was good enough for them. Not that others are the ones to blame for our insecurities, but what others think about us has such an incredible impact on how we see ourselves. It would be a mistake not to acknowledge this. From my Korean cousin who projected her insecurities onto me when I was just ten to my soccer coach who would grab my shoulders and tell me that I was too thin, too weak to be a soccer player, these things made me feel insecure. From the thinspo and fitspo models on tumblr who I do not look like at all to the offhanded comment my ex boyfriend once made that I should lose the eight pounds I’d gained from college, these things made me feel insecure. It’s sad that when I desperately needed to hear, “You’re perfectly fine the way you are. You don’t have to change. You’re good enough. Your body is exactly as it should be at this very moment,” I was bombarded by messages that I needed to change, that I wasn’t good enough, that my body was too much of this or too little of that.
So I want to say this to you: People will always judge you. They will judge your appearance, your weight, your face, your clothing, your style, your arms, legs, butt, stomach, everything. They will judge you and criticize you and feel like they’re entitled to having an opinion about your body and what you should look like. And the sad cliche that is true and yet so hard to accept is that you can’t please them all. I tried since I was ten and as a result, I compromised my own happiness and peace of mind. I never felt good enough. It doesn’t have to be that way. Your body will continue to change. YOU will continue to change with every year and what matters more than anyone’s opinion of you is how you see yourself. If you see yourself with love, if you believe in yourself, if you see how beautiful you are, then you have something that no one can ever give you or take away from you with their words: Self acceptance.