I support self love wholeheartedly, though it was never something that came easy to me. I struggled for years with severe insecurities relating to my overall appearance. It all began with the incessant bullying by my peers, which eventually led to constant anxiety and self-hatred in regard to my looks. It constantly reminded me of the flaws I found in myself, and how I fell short of absurd beauty standards; not thin enough, not toned enough, not fit enough, and the list goes on. Looking in the mirror, these “flaws” were all I could see, and even on good days, I almost always failed to find any part of myself that I could learn to love. I never realized the weight or toxicity of these words that I played over and over in my mind each day, until they began to affect my actions. Suddenly, I wasn’t the little girl with pigtails and wide, curious eyes who spent her time playing dress up and took dance classes for seven years. Instead, I became the girl who starved herself (never to the point of anorexia), and even took diet pills from her friend’s fathers in a desperate attempt to alter the image she always dreaded seeing in the mirror.
Photo: Tyler Nix on Unsplash
So many people obsess over the need to criticize others, forgetting to look in the mirror and recognize the flaws they hold within themselves. It’s a constant question of why people feel so empowered to belittle others and to diminish the progress of those who have fought endlessly to begin to love pieces of themselves. At one point, I was at the brunt of this, and these questions would swim in my mind amidst the period of torment by my peers as they caused the irreversible damage that clings to the corners of my mind to this day, despite the headway I’ve made in learning to accept the body I was given.
Everyday, individuals with these types of insecurities are forced to see images of what is considered to be the “perfect” or “desirable” body through various media platforms. We live in a society that constantly tells you to love yourself, just to turn around and throw around advertisements meant to obliterate the confidence you’ve strived to gain, putting a name to each of your flaws, scoffing at those who accept their bodies even if they don’t fit the mold of your typical Victoria’s Secret model. Personally, this journey has been a series of halts and obstacles meant to set me back to the nightmarish place I started from, obstructing my view of my final goal of undeniable acceptance of every piece of myself, no matter what I see in the mirror.
Looking back, reaching this place of positivity was more of a shift rather than a constructed step-by-step process. Gradually, I decided that nobody else could decide how my body should look or what was “ideal.” After years of feeling like the girl that was never enough, I finally feel free from the torment that is my mind. I am no longer suffocated by the demonic voices in my head that were once an anchor to me for all those years. Through this process, I have become more empowered, and have learned to grasp the fact that the idea of perfection is nothing more than a false perception. And in the midst of it all, I found that there’s nothing more beautiful than the imperfect, as they are perfect in the most beautifully unimaginable way.
Michaela Kowalski is a seventeen-year-old photographer, writer, and college student. She has been living in New Hampshire all of her life and is currently majoring in Marketing with a minor in Public Relations. Michaela loves to inspire and give back. She also hopes to one day have a successful travel and food blog because of her love for food, travel, and photography.