Story on Criticism

City: Salem

Industry: Student

How can one not adore their own home?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been criticized for how much I ate or didn't eat. My body, my face, how much makeup I do or don't wear, my acne. It came from my family and relatives in the form of jokes or remarks on my appearance. I'd always feel tense and uncomfortable.

At 16, I started learning about self-love. I saw people post things about body love and acceptance. It was new for me; I was still trying to diet and get skinnier, prettier, thinner... Seeing people on the Internet post pictures of their tummies and say they love themselves helped me do the same. Of course, at first it was so hard to see my "flaws" as beautiful but, with time, I started appreciating my body like I would an uneven landscape with hills and valleys. Each time I stood in front of the mirror after a shower I saw more and more beauty. I started seeing myself as a valid human being. With a valid body.

I learned that self-love means being gentle with your thoughts about yourself. It means accepting your cellulite, your wide hips, your flat body shape, your thin arms, wide shoulders, and fat rolls. It means looking at yourself as someone that is dear to you. It is where your spirit and soul live ­­– how can one not adore their own home?

On my 18th birthday, my uncle commented on how much muscle I'd put on my arms. "Be careful to not get too buff; it doesn't look good on a girl and guys don’t really like girls with muscle."

"I like being strong and I see nothing wrong with it. If some dude decides he doesn't like me because of how I'm built, I could care less," I stated. He blinked at me, everyone in the room was listening, but pretending to talk among themselves.

I was proud of myself. I'm proud of the self-acceptance I've developed. A year ago, I would nod, smile, and feel ashamed about my appearance. Now, I'm able to shut down judgmental comments about my body while keeping a smile on my face.