[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hanks to a plethora of factors including media and persistent societal values, we are preconditioned to have very specific standards on what an ideal body looks like. We vie for particular physical traits like a slim waist and a long neck, but at the same time detest other features such as a tummy or short limbs. Sometimes it’s just admittedly hard to accept, let alone like, the body you inhabit when what you see in the mirror doesn’t align with images you see in magazines or even girls you pass by in the street.
To reach a point where we can be at peace with how we look on the outside can be an arduous process. Reminders, as I’ve personally found, can work to make us see the bigger picture: there are some things about our body that we just can’t change, and that’s okay, because the way we look is just one small portion of who we are as a person. I’ve enlisted a few points below, related to some physical traits that are widely desired, and also those that are common sources of insecurity. I hope they can act as reminders for you to stop obsessing over features you have (or don’t) and embrace your body for the beauty that it already is.
- Whether or not you have a thigh gap is up to your genetics: Working out or losing weight won’t make you achieve a thigh gap. As a matter of fact, thigh gap is genetically determined by your bone structure and body shape, specifically the width of your hips and the angle of your pelvic bones; those who have wide pelvises have leg bones that are father apart, while those with narrow pelvises have leg bones that are set close. You can’t change these things, and you don’t need to. Women like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez have thighs that touch, and they’re absolutely gorgeous. You are too.
- Having body hair is perfectly fine: The vilifying of body hair in women is honestly so baffling. A Twitter user was once caught in backlash after sharing a photo of her hairy stomach, and even Kim Kardashian’s internet-breaking butt was criticized for not being hairless. A lot of people seem to believe that body hair is unnatural in girls, but the thing is: it literally is natural. Because of our genes and hormones, we get hair on our arms, legs and armpits. Some of us even have hair on our upper lip, knuckles and chest. It’s something that we can’t control. And it’s something we shouldn’t be ashamed about.
- Cellulite is common and normal: It’s difficult to accept cellulite when you see images of toned women on print, but the thing is, cellulite is something that affects 90% of women. Plus, it’s nothing more than normal fat underneath the skin; it just happens to look different because it pushes against connective tissue, making skin above it pucker.
- Stretch marks don’t go away and that’s okay: Just like cellulite, stretch marks are usual features, especially if you have a family history of stretch marks or you experience dramatic weight loss/gain. And despite what’s commonly believed, stretch marks don’t just happen to pregnant women; they occur in young girls too, because of growth and hormonal shifts. Marks fade overtime, but some do remain visible. There are some medications out there that work to decrease the appearance of stretch marks, but they don’t make marks disappear completely. It’s best to just embrace them and not view them in a negative light. Think of them as lightning strikes, or tiger stripes, or paint on the blank canvas that is your body. Pretty awesome, right?
A few others:
- You may hate seeing the little dots on your nose, perceiving them as blackheads and trying all you can to extract them with pore strips or extractions. They probably aren’t; you have sebaceous filaments, which are tiny hairline formations that produce oil from your pores to your skin as a way to moisturize it. Basically, you have your very own moisturizer, and you shouldn’t be trying to get rid of them.
- Completely flawless skin is close to, if not actually, impossible. A perfect complexion is unrealistic, and we shouldn’t obsess over it. It’s okay to have acne or oily skin.
- Don’t buy into common beauty desires too much. The media pushes for girls to glorify things like thigh gaps, protruding collarbones and bikini bridges, and these things may be pretty, but you do not have to have them, and you should never sacrifice your health (physical or mental) in order to achieve them.
Despite what so many people and things make you believe, remember this: there is no mandate on a beautiful body. You don’t need specific physical traits in order to consider yourself gorgeous. You have every right to embrace every inch of yourself. As Glenn Marla puts it, “There is no wrong way to have a body.”