Body Image – let’s talk. A few days ago, I watched a documentary about a mother and daughter’s shared passion for plastic surgery. Followed up by a documentary about a 16-year old girl who hates herself because she doesn’t look like the Instagram filters.
We all know the cure. We read the book. Listened to the podcast. “L0vE y0uRsELf” they all say. Yet we all still struggle with loving our bodies. Why? Because it’s just not that simple. Your body issues never started with you.
Girls don’t just wake up one day and decide to hate their body. They are taught to. Don’t tell us that looks don’t matter when society is saying the opposite. We are pedestaling and idolizing certain body types and certain looks everywhere we go.
So I’m not here to convince you – or myself – that it doesn’t matter to look good. Here’s why.
I’m a woman. I’m a dancer. I made a career out of visuals and aesthetics. I get booked – and not booked – based on skill, but definitely also on physical appearance.
It matters what I look like. And that’s why I’m not just gonna say: “Looks don’t matter, just love yourself”. Because it’s not that simple.
It matters to us to be and feel pretty. And that is okay.
But where we went wrong was the day we decided that there’s only one way to look pretty. Kylie Jenner set the tone years back. Big lips, a tiny waist, thigh gap, straight teeth, big butt, long lashes… we decided: That’s the definition of pretty.
Enter the beauty industry stage left, who are making serious $$ on women’s bad self-esteem. Including bloggers and influencers. You can be as pretty as this edited photo, you can become happier, more successful and admired if you just buy the fat loss tea, the anti-aging cream, the lip kit etc.
(Psst, learn how to stop pedestaling people in this post!)
You will never look like the girl in the magazine
People with botox are selling anti-aging cream. People with butt injections are selling booty workout plans. Women with extentions are selling vitamins for hair growth. Tell me how it makes sense. Explain to me how this is healthy. You will never look like the woman in the magazine. The woman in the magazine doesn’t even look like the woman in the magazine.
A magazine where 50 % of the content is “how to love yourself” and the other 50% is “how to look younger”, “how to get a thigh gap” and “how to lose weight”. So don’t tell me that outer beauty isn’t important, when society is showing me the opposite.
This is what I hear a lot: “It is self-love to lose weight because it makes me love myself more”. But only loving yourself as long as you look a certain way isn’t self-love, it’s self destruction.
(Read “Why social media is damaging to young artist” right here!)
Stop making beauty your 1st priority
It’s okay to care about what you look like. But what absolutely breaks my heart is when you let it matter the most to you.
When you don’t go to the beach with your friends because you are embarrassed of how you look in a bikini. When you don’t go to that family barbeque on a hot summer day because you don’t want to show your legs in a dress. When you don’t buy the dream dress because it comes with spaghetti straps and your arms are “too big”. When you hold yourself back from having amazing sex with someone you love. When you settle for mediocure and shrink yourself.
That breaks my heart. If you’re holding yourself back from making incredible memories because you’re terrified of the jiggling and wiggling.
It should not matter the most. It should not rob us from the most important in life.
The best memories are not based on how hot you were
You don’t hold a memory in your heart because:
“Prom was great since I lost 3 pounds before by doing a strict juice cleanse and starving myself. My arms really looked a little smaller.”
“Prom was incredible because I laughed and danced all night with my friends, and my crush told me he liked me”
I don’t recall one single memory that stands out in an amazing way because I was skinny or looked hot that day. Not one.
Because it doesn’t matter the most.
The tragedy of your thighs
Half the world is starving, the other half is trying to lose weight. That’s a tragedy. Poverty, racism, starvation, injustice, natural disasters – that’s all tragedies.
You know what’s not a tragedy? That your thighs are touching. It’s just not.
You don’t need to change your body, you need to change your perspective.
How ballet affected how I looked at myself
Do you remember when you first looked at yourself and thought something was wrong? How old were you?
To me that was when I was in ballet class at age 12. Mirrors everywhere, everyone wearing tight leotards and nude tights. My favorite movie was “Barbie and the Nutcracker”, of course. Skinny, pretty Barbie.
I wish dance teachers talked more about body image and body positivity. I wish someone addressed why some of the dancers in my class suddenly weren’t dancing but sitting in front of the mirror. I wish I knew that their doctors told them they couldn’t attend as long as they were suffering from anorexia.
And I felt gross at 12 years old because I didn’t look like them. One more time: I felt gross because I did not look like someone with anorexia.
I’m sharing this to emphasize that we are all in this together and I’m not here to teach you anything. I’m just here to share. At age 19 I couldn’t fit the costume on tour in China because it was made for Chinese dancers:
“Sorry we’re used to like.. skinny dancers” they said.
These experiences do a lot to girls and women growing up. We can’t protect ourselves from each other, but I believe mothers can do a lot.
Tell your daughters how much you love your body. Tell them and show them the importance of loving theirs.
Surrounding yourself with people who love you
I discussed this topic with this guy I’m talking to and how SoMe accounts can affect how I view myself:
“If I decide to work out after looking at a fitness account, I don’t think that I’m doing from a place of motivation. I think they trigger me to work out. I don’t get inspired me, I get insecure.”
The guy was so surprised:
“That’s so strange to me, because you are already so fit and beautiful”.
I glanced at myself in the corner of the FaceTime call: A big old hoodie, no make-up, red post-cry eyes and definitely paler than Casper the Ghost.
I re-realized (I believe that’s a thing, because you can realize the same things at different stages in your life, right?): the right people will always make you feel like you are enough.
The best Christmas present you can give to anyone this year is not bought on Amazon. It’s giving someone the permission to feel safe in their own skin.
Unfollow and mute
Check your surroundings, they affect your heart so much. Unfollow or mute accounts that makes you feel negative about yourself. Engage with content you like and makes you laugh. Your algorithm will pick up on that very fast. Turn off your social media notifications. I can’t stress it enough.
If you’ve been ciritizing yourself for years and it didn’t work, then try to see what happens if you approve yourself.
It’s okay that you care about feeling and looking pretty, but we have to stop letting it be our number one priority. Stop trying to fix your body. It was never broken in the first place.
And if no one told you today: You are beautiful.