It’s September, and for me that means it’s my birthday month. What this basically means
for me is that I spend every day leading up to my actual birthday dreading it. I’m not one to celebrate myself; I hate the spotlight, especially if it puts me squarely in view for everyone to talk to me for this one day of the year.
As an almost 23-year-old young adult, what I’ve slowly… and I mean very slowly, learned is how to love myself. I’ve grown up feeling self-conscious for being… too much. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. What I’ve inherited from both sides of my family is the typical, a big butt and boobs. People think that it’s amazing, but the truth of the matter is, it can be embarrassing. I’ve had to learn to be okay with the fact that I shop in the plus-size section. I’ve had to get used to the fact that not all bras will fit like a glove. I’ve had to learn that my curly hair is frustrating and guess what? It’s perfectly okay that I still don’t like it. Many people with straighter hair envy my curls, and while that’s okay, I’ve had to impress upon those people that, thank you for the compliment, but I, the owner of this hair, still don’t like it.
It’s been a learning curve, no pun intended. I started using DiaandCo, a subscription box much like Stitchfix to get my clothing. It’s been a lifesaver, I can tell you. I don’t feel self-conscious, I have discretion, and most importantly, I’m not left feeling embarrassed while passing clothes back and forth through dressing room doors.
It really and truthfully sucks to be curvy in a society that values models with all the right curves in all the right places. I, however, don’t envy them. I’ve accepted that my annoying curly hair, my body, and my preferences are okay just the way they are.
To impress this upon myself, I recently bought a treadmill, something I’ve been wanting for years. I’ve hated running ever since I continuously sprained my ankles in middle school, but walking has always been an enjoyment of mine. Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve not had much of an opportunity to do so independently, and that’s been its own personal hell. But if anything, these past few months have taught me that I’m attractive in the ways that count. I’m smart, I’m sassy, and the rest is just a plus. I may not be able to cook gourmet meals, but guess what? I’m not much of a food lover anyways, so my cooking prowess shouldn’t define who I am. I want a tattoo; I want to dye my hair. Not for appearance’s sake, but because I deserve to feel amazing in my own skin.
I’m turning twenty-three, and I’m barely beginning to understand what it means to accept me for who I am. I’ve accepted that I am anxious and depressed, I’ve accepted that I just happen to be blind as all hell, why can’t I accept my physical self also? Growing up in the era of filters and social media, we need to look a certain way. We must wear a size 0, and don’t you dare think you’re worth loving if your jeans are a size 14. And instead of stopping these negative trends, adults adapt to these same beliefs and start using filters on their photos, on Instagram photos of their kids, on the “amazingly complicated three course healthy, vegan, non-GMO gluten-free” meal they’ve prepared.
All this to say… I don’t love myself. But I’m learning. Ladies, learn to love yourselves. Don’t think that you’re not worth looking at if you don’t cake makeup onto your face before walking out the door. Don’t teach your teenagers that they’ll only go so far if they don’t wear sizes 6 and under. Their intelligence matters equally, if not more importantly, than the brands they wear. They’re worth loving even if their clothes come from Old Navy, Gap, or Target. J. Crew is cool, but what’s even more amazing is that job title, a degree, or simply loving yourself for who the actual hell you are.
I’m learning to love myself 22 years too late. Teach them earlier than me.