This is a topic that I’ve covered a lot, because body image is something I’ve struggled with for many years. The first time I went on a diet I was in seventh grade (and nowhere near overweight), and I’ve fought a near constant battle over my self-image ever since, as I believe most people do nowadays.
But lately, I have to be honest, I’ve been checking myself out in the mirror everyday. Sometimes several times a day. Definitely when I’m changing so I can admire my new muscles; I’m pretty sure this adds at least a couple minutes to my getting ready time in the morning. And I’m not going to be ashamed of it.
I have always been modest in the way that I dress.
I traded shorts for mostly knee-length skirts when I was probably ten or eleven years old because I didn’t like the way my legs looked in shorts and wanted them to be covered. For most of middle and high school I opted primarily for skirts between my knees and my ankles or, most of the time, pants. I even wore pants throughout the summer, despite being hot. I also carefully selected higher neck lines in my shirts and dresses or wore layers to make sure there was little to no cleavage showing (which was not an easy feat because the amount of cleavage I had was substantial). And I never wore anything “slutty.”
There were times, of course, where I’d put on a slightly more revealing outfit at home and be pleased with what I saw in the mirror. But as soon as I walked outside to where people could actually see me, I’d immediately get overwhelmingly uncomfortable and start adjusting things to cover more or add layers or even just keep my hands in strategic locations until I got an opportunity to change my clothes. And when I say “more revealing” here, I mean something along the lines of a skirt just a few inches above my knees and a shirt that shows maybe half an inch of cleavage. So in other words, a totally normal outfit.
I knew my understanding of what was appropriate to wear was different from other girls’, but I never really thought much of it. I just said that I was “modest,” like that was a totally normal and healthy attitude. Now don’t get me wrong – modesty, when inspired by modesty, is certainly not a bad thing. But what I didn’t realize was that my modesty was not motivated by modesty; it was motivated by a very negative body image, and that is a problem.
I want to share this article about a man’s struggle with his body image throughout his life, both because I think it’s important that we acknowledge that negative body image is an everyone problem – not just a girl problem – and because I think it does a good job of getting to the true nature of image-related self-confidence; it’s about more than just how you look.
I recently talked about how my confidence has improved quite a bit as the number on my scale has dropped, but I know that there’s a lot more to it than that: looking good isn’t enough, you have to feel good too. And that’s something I am still continuously working on. I think this article is a great reminder, for everyone, to focus on both.