“I hate my body! My belly looks fat and my legs are huge. I really wish I could get plastic surgery”. This is what I overheard two girls rant on for more than an hour at the gym. We had all just finished our amazing indoor-cycling class and were waiting to shower in the bathroom.
They went on and on about how no one would ever like them like that, how they felt disgusting, how there wasn’t even one thing they loved about their bodies. And what’s even worse, every time one of them said something they hated about themselves, the other one agreed — It was like a very toxic support group. The whole thing finally ended when one of them saw the time and noticed she was late for work.
I love my indoor-cycling class. It’s 45 minutes where I can be myself, rock to the music, and give it my all. I feel sexy and strong, I feel like no challenge is big enough for me. Yes, my legs definitely hurt, I can barely breathe, and I’m fully covered in sweat, but I feel so alive and happy. It’s a time where I don’t have to worry about anything, and just focus on the moment.
So I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Two incredibly beautiful girls, who instead of focusing on what their bodies were capable of, of the great things they had allowed them to do, were focusing on the image they saw in the mirror. Instead of being grateful for being healthy and strong and having a beating heart and the choice of doing whatever they wanted, were worrying about “the extra pounds I’m carrying”.
I was outraged. Maybe I should have interfered and said something, but I didn’t want to become the “creepy, body positive girl” in the gym. And truth is, I’m exactly like them. As mad as I was, as I stepped into the shower, the first thoughts that went on my mind (and I have them almost every time), were about things I disliked in my body: about how my belly looks flat but a bit loose, how I wish my arms were stronger, how I’m naturally bigger than everyone and I hate it. How maybe I should stop eating X and Y, work out more hours a week (than the 8 hours I already do), how my body looked way better before I had shoulder surgery due to a sports injury.
I then understood that I was so mad because for once, hearing these girls complain, I was listening to myself. The reaction I had is probably the one my friends and mom do every time they hear me complain about my body, or they get my almost daily text message of “I look so ugly today”.
Truth is, my relationship with my body has always been awful. I grew up a very chubby child, then went on to become an overweight teenager, and at some point lost a lot of weight, being the type of skinny that people worry about. Afterwards, I decided to start doing weightlifting, and became bigger and stronger. But now, having just had surgery and very finding myself being very limited in what I can do, I am at a position where I’m not exactly aware of where my body’s at.
So some days I wake up and I love what I see in the mirror. These are the greatest days: when I walk on the street and feel like the fearless woman I am, I wear whatever I want, and I can’t stop smiling at everyone. But then the darkest times come and leaving the house seems like a nightmare. When you’re in a bad relationship with yourself, you can’t have healthy relationships with others, they say, and I can confirm that it’s completely true.
I’m grateful and happy for the things I have in my life: my family, my career, my friends, all the experiences I’ve been able to have in my 21 years in this planet. But just as these girls were forgetting about the amazing things their body allowed them to do in the class, I keep forgetting about all of these, to focus on some trivial aspect I don’t like.
So to the voice in my head yelling that I’m not as great as I should be, my body also isn’t, or whatever creative insult I’ve come up with for myself that day, I say: enough is enough. I am whatever I want to be. If I say I’m beautiful and strong, if I want to rock a fashionable crop top or dance to some sexy music or get the best grades of the whole class. I might have a billion insecurities, cry twice a week, and complain about the weather more than the average person — but that’s what makes me, me. And regardless of anything, I love myself.